Questions to consider (these will not necesarily be addressed in the sermon): Who is testing whom in this passage? Does the expert in the law pass the test? Does Jesus? What is your understanding of why the questioner keeps going after Jesus says he has answered well in vs 28? Do you like that Jesus answers with a story or would you have preferred a more specific answer to the question “Who is my neighbour”? In Jesus’ time, if a story or parable was told, hearers would expect to find themselves represented in the parable. Which character are you in the parable Jesus tells? Which character is Jesus or God? Which is the expert in the law? Does he see himself in there at all? In the end, was the final question difficult to answer for the man? Think back to the probably many sermons you have heard on this parable. Think of how they may have motivated you to try to “do” what a “Good Samaritan” does in order to be a good follower of Christ. Now go back and read it all again, watching for emphasis on “doing” and on “being.” Who is focused on each of these in your view? What does that tell you about our approach to being followers of Jesus. Is it a doing or a being?
Summary: In this sermon I share some faith shaping discoveries that are in the text for me. This is one of my favourite teachings to share because it has had such an impact on my life and journey.
- The first is that whereas the religious legalist wants to focus on “Doing” and on categories and definitions he can dispute (so he has less obligation under the law and can then more easily ‘earn’ his inheritance in heaven – so he thinks), Jesus focuses on “Being” in his parable, without being specific about doing and categories. This is huge for me. He is showing that following God via Jesus is about a “Way of being” in the world, not a “Way of Doing.” When I get to my Kingdom of God sermons near the end of my time with CCC, I will have more to say from the Bible on this subject.
- The second major thing to recognize is related to knowing that people in the day expected to find themselves depicted in a parable told in response to a question. The asker does not see himself as half dead and helpless by the side of the road, he feels well and competent to figure out what God wants of him. Where he did expect ‘his’ character to show up is after the Levite. Instead, as the punchline of the parable, Jesus brings on a despised and religously confused Samaritan! And this spiritually inferior (in the legalists mind) Samaritan simply feels compassion/mercy and acts on it without hesitation, where the Priest and Levite were ‘justified’ in not acting accoding to the law. He does so at great self-risk and expense (which points to God and Jesus), and basically covers the beset and wounded person’s expeneses into eternity. In the end, even small children recognize who was being a neighbour in the story. So does the asker.
- A third major thing to note is that Jesus actually wants the man to see that he is the helpless one before the law he so loves. He is, brilliantly, trying to show him that the “Samaritian” standing in front of him is there to save him from his inability to keep the law and earn eternal relationship with God.