Bible Studies for Life

with Steve Jordan

Sunday,  August 28

Love Gets Involved

Luke 10:25-37

An expert in the law asked Jesus the important question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Although Jesus quoted the same Scriptures (Lev. 19:18; Deut. 6:5) on other occasions and proclaimed them to be the greatest commandments (Matt. 22:35-40; Mark 12:28-31), the legal expert cites the Scriptures referring to love being essential for the child of God.  This conversation leads us to an important discovery: love for God includes a costly love for others.

Luke 10:25-28—We can’t love God without loving others. When Jesus tells the lawyer to obey the Scriptures (Lev. 19:18; Deut. 6:5), he asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”  He was not asking out of a deep sense of concern or compassion for neighbors, he was “trying to justify himself.”  He was trying to get Jesus to draw the line for the limit love had to go.  However Jesus defined “neighbor,” the lawyer would conclude that he was not obligated to love anyone not covered by that definition.  Where does our neighborhood end—at the end of our street, at the county line, at the national boundaries, at the railroad tracks?  Jesus spoke to the lawyer’s heart because, in the lawyer’s mind, there were no good Samaritans. 

Luke 10:29-32—We fail to love when we don’t take action.  The story is about a man who has been beaten, robbed, and left for dead—a man in pain.  The love Jesus expects of us is more than an academic exercise.  He never commanded us to discuss love, but He did command us to demonstrate love.  (I’m afraid we talk about it more than we demonstrate it.)  True compassion takes action.

To be compassionate often means to become vulnerable.  The priest and Levite probably had pangs of pity, but were afraid of becoming unclean if the man was dead or a target if the thieves were nearby.  Our words sometimes fail to become deeds because we are afraid to become vulnerable.  We are not always willing to pay the price to love others.

When you are in pain, the cure is all important.  To be compassionate often means recognition that the cause of pain in the world is not as relevant as the cure.  Sometimes our judgment of hurting people prevents us from demonstrating love and declaring hope to people in pain.  In Jesus’ story, the thieves (the cause) are soon forgotten.  All that mattered was the hope declared through a Samaritan’s love.

To be compassionate is to live with the conviction that to not care is far more costly.  The priest and Levite were in fact the man’s neighbors, while the Samaritan was an outsider, the stranger.  The priest and Levite lose credibility in this story.  Our communities are hurting: violence, terrorist threats, moral decay, political confusion, financial crisis, natural disaster, spiritual despair.  Churches are everywhere.  In the midst of the great need of our world many of our churches are declining.  Could it be that we are now paying the price for neglecting to demonstrate love and declare hope to our hurting neighbors?  Caring for others is costly.  It’s risky, too.  But it is far more costly not to care.  When we don’t take action, it is because we don’t love. 

It depends on your outlook.  To the thieves, the man was a victim to exploit.  To the priest and Levite, the man was nuisance to avoid.  To the Samaritan, however, the man was a neighbor to love and help.  Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”

Luke 10:33-37—We are commanded to love no matter what. Jesus never directly answered the lawyer’s question.  He changed the question from “Who is my neighbor?” to “What kind of neighbor am I?”  When Jesus asked the lawyer who in the story proved to be a neighbor to the hurting man, the expert could not bring himself to say the word “Samaritan,” so he said “the one who showed mercy.”

Our world is growing increasingly hostile to Christianity.  Sometimes it seems that our world considers Christians to be the “Samaritans” of the 21st century.  When we demonstrate the love of Jesus and declare His hope to this hurting world, the complexion changes.  Christians are welcomed at ground zero.  Remember “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1 John 4:10-11 KJV).  Love for God includes a costly love for others.

Jordan is Associational Missions Director, Attala Association.