Today, Pastor D (Grace Covenant Church, Dubai) opened our eyes to the fact that it deals with the very 'second commandment' of Jesus when he said, ' LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR AS YOURSELF'. What i write below are some of my reflections/notes from the sermon of today.
(For those of you who may want a ready reference to the story, i have 'copy-pasted' it at the end of the article).
So the teacher of the law ('lawyer') wanted to test Jesus regarding the approx. 615 laws that the Jews followed. When Jesus asks the lawyer his take on the law, the lawyer is quick to summarise the the two most important laws (which come right out of Moses 5 books or the Pentateuch). Jesus clearly wants to stop this discussion by telling him that it is enough to honour these two and be saved but the Lawyer does not give up on the discusion and asks 'WHO IS MY NEIGHBOUR'. It is at this juncture that Jesus narrates the story of the Good Samaritan.
The Priests and the Levites were the highest strata in Israel's Theocratic society. The priests were the only ones who could enter the sanctum sanctorum of the temple and offer sacrifices. The Levites were lay ministers who would assist the priests. Clearly, Jesus is pointing to a very important failing of priests and lay ministers, who have taken the authority to their heads and through their rituals and temple duties have failed to honour the second most important commandment of God!
The Samaritans of the time were a 'half breed' of Jews who, due to the repression by other paganistic rulers followed idol worship. They were the most hated community in Israel. A Jew would not only avoid going near a Samaritan but also spit in his direction as he passed on the other side of the road! When the Samaritan in the story tends to the needs of the 'half dead' Jew who, in his place would have surely left the Samaritan to die, Jesus is setting a new standard in following the law!
The Samaritan could very well be representing Jesus himself! Despised and hated to the point of his crucifixion and death Himself, Jesus is clearly saying to anyone who wants to follow Him that no matter who the person in need may be, he must respond to the 'fallen' persons' needs completely! (i.e. even to the point of forgetting one's own profit, time and expense!).
Ultimately, when Jesus asks the lawyer who in the story was the 'neighbour' to the 'fallen', he correctly answers, "He who showed MERCY on him"
The command to GO AND DO LIKEWISE is applicable to ALL of us. The neighbour clearly includes even our enemies ... YES EVEN ENEMIES!
The question is: CAN WE EVER DO THIS ON OUR OWN?
NEVER! We need the Holy Spirit inside us first. The quality of love required to honor such a commandment cannot manifest itself from a carnal mind. The AGAPE LOVE that Jesus is demanding from us is clearly reiterated in St. Paul's letter first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 13:
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?”
27 So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’[a] and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”[b]
28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”
29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed,[c] he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ 36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”
37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”