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Will You Be My Neighbor?

Luke 10:25-37

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"And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, 'Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?' [26] And He said to him, 'What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?' [27] And he answered and said, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.' [28] And He said to him, 'You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.' [29] But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?' 

Jesus replied and said, 'A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho; and he fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went off leaving him half dead. [31] And by chance a certain priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. [32] And likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. [33] But a certain Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, [34] and came to him, and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. [35] And on the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return, I will repay you.' [36] Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers' hands?' [37] And he said, 'The one who showed mercy toward him.' And Jesus said to him, 'Go and do the same.'" 

Perhaps only John 3:16 or the 23rd Psalm is better known by the public at large than this parable. Familiar passages, like this one, offer unique challenges and opportunities when they become the focal point of a worship experience. The challenges are obvious-somehow we need to find a way to set aside our previous conclusions about this text, because if we don't, we will block any new insights that we can glean from a careful, prayerful study of it. This text in particular is challenging because the "Good Samaritan" has become a cultural icon. The term has come to mean any stranger that performs an act of kindness. The Oxford American dictionary defines a Good Samaritan as "someone who readily gives help to a person in distress who has no claim on him." (P. 538) News writers often use the term to denote someone who helps a stranger without regard to reward. In sum, Good Samaritans act without asking, "What's in it for me?" They do what is right, just because it is right.

At face value, that's a decent definition. Unfortunately, I don't believe it goes far enough. There is more to this parable than just that. And that's where our opportunity comes in today. As we open this text together today, we have the opportunity to allow Jesus to speak to us, just as he did the people who first heard his words. 

Let's begin by working on our definition. The problem with the working definition of a Good Samaritan as someone who performs an act of kindness, beyond the fact that the teaching here is greater than that, is that it can also be skewed to be something negative. I recently read an article entitled "E-posses patrol for auction fraud" on CNN.com. According to the article, people who've been duped using online auctions like "e-bay" or "Yahoo! Auction's Community" are patrolling these services to help protect others from the Thank you for reading the free preview of this sermon.  The full manuscript is available to Premium Members use these resources in their ministry.
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