The man asked, “If I am to love my neighbor, who is my neighbor?” Jesus’ answer was not just for the one who asked; His answer is for each of us. As you listen to Julie Jenkins’ teaching on the Good Samaritan, will you take to heart God’s words of wisdom for you? (Luke 10:25-37)
Welcome to Walking in the Word, the biblical teaching arm of the Women World Leaders podcast. I’m your host, Julie Jenkins. If this is your first time listening, welcome! We have three different podcast offerings for you each week, so make sure you check out each one every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
You have happened on Walking in the Word, where we take a few minutes each Wednesday to open our Bibles together and study God’s Word. I grew up knowing Jesus, but for a long time I thought the Bible was meant for others. It was an honor in our church to stand up and read scripture, and my dad read to us from the Bible on special occasions, so I always assumed that you had to be credentialed to even open the sacred book.
I’m not sure when my attitude changed, but when I became an adult and was feeling far from God, a friend suggested I read the Bible. My response was, I don’t know how to read the Bible. In retrospect, that seems like a silly statement for someone who graduated from college with honors in the field of communications. I didn’t see the irony. But per my friend’s suggestion, I joined a Bible study, and I quickly questioned how I had ever gotten through life WITHOUT reading the Bible!
The Bible is our guide for life, and it is meant for everyone! No matter where you are on your walk with Jesus, I encourage you to simply open the Bible and read it! If you are new to reading and studying the Word, a great place to begin are the gospels, specifically the book of John, which was written to tell of who Jesus is – the foundation of our Christian faith.
On this study, we are currently walking through the gospels chronologically, combining the teachings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in order to get a more complete picture of Jesus’ life on earth. I’m glad you’ve joined us!
Before we begin, let’s pray.
Dear Most Holy God, We are intentionally taking time to pause our busy lives to spend time in your Word. Thank you for always being present and available. We confess that we do not recognize your presence nearly as much as we should, nor do we acknowledge what a miraculous gift you are to us. Please forgive us for our shortsightedness. Holy Spirit, we ask that you be with us as we read and study your Word today. Help us put everything else aside and cleanse our minds so we may focus solely on you. Allow our hearts to be opened so we may clearly hear your instruction and wisdom for each of us today. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
If you have your Bibles, open with me to Luke chapter 10. Our reading today is Luke 10:25-37. Allow me to begin reading from the New Living Translation…
25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”
27 The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”[a]
28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”
Over the course of our study, we have seen many come to Jesus seeking answers. We’ve also seen many come to Jesus seeking to trip him up. Whether this man had an open heart to learn is not ours to judge. The fact is that the man was an expert in religious law, and the question he asked COULD have been meant as a trap. Jesus had told his followers that He would lead them to eternal life, but the Scripture available at the time, remember, stated that perfectly adhering to the Old Testament law would lead to eternal life.
Instead of going on the defensive, Jesus met the man where he was by first asking what he knew.
Oh how I love Jesus! He will always meet us where we are – without judgment! Sometimes His questions to us are difficult, and often, they make us think. In fact, if you have a truly open conversation with God, I guarantee you will walk away thinking – and you may walk away with even more questions than answers. It is often in contemplating the answers and meanings in the presence of the Holy Spirit that God grows us into His image over time. Sometimes, our growth is an arduous process, but it is always worth it!
So the man asked… “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”
And Jesus responded…“What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”
The man responded with part of the Shema, from Deueteronomy 6:5 – which the Jews recited daily. He knew the words by heart. He was to love the Lord God with all his heart, soul, strength, and mind. And, ‘Love his neighbor as himself.’” Where many scholars believe the man was trying to trip up Jesus was that he was showcasing that the law said nothing about following Jesus leading to eternal life.
But, using scripture to interpret scripture, we understand that when you love God with your whole heart, soul, strength, and mind – the Holy Spirit will ensure that you will hear and have the opportunity to follow Jesus. So, as we’ve often seen, Jesus stepped over the intended stumbling stone with grace, agreeing with the man, saying …“Right!… Do this and you will live!”
But though the man knew and could recite the words by heart, he had not allowed the words to infiltrate his heart.
I wonder how many of us can relate? Actually, I don’t wonder at all – because if we are honest – there are times that we ALL can relate.
I myself have completed Bible studies just to complete them. Saying, “I made a commitment, and I’m going to push through.” I’m also ashamed to say that there are times when praying becomes an exercise for me rather than a true conversation with God. We must always fight against allowing a habit to become habitual and a commitment to God from becoming common. Stay true to your godly habits and commitments, but each day, ask God to open your heart and mind to what HE wants to tell you.
The man may have truly been seeking, but it seems more likely that he was trying to limit his own responsibility…verse 29
29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant[b] walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.
33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins,[c] telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’
You most likely have heard this story before. Most people have. We even have a “Good Samaritan Law” in many parts of the United States that legally protects those who administer emergency care in good faith. But let’s try to look at it with fresh eyes.
A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho – a seventeen-mile journey through dangerous country. The road was lined with caves where thieves would hide so they could jump upon unsuspecting victims at any time. Picture walking through a rough part of a big city late at night. You would be wise to keep your head down and walk quickly, not drawing any attention to yourself.
Perhaps that’s what the Jewish man was doing when he was jumped. He was mugged, beaten, and left for dead on the side of the road. And the thieves likely ran back to a cave to wait for another victim.
A priest was traveling the same path, head down, merely trying to get where he was going. He sees the Jewish man left for dead and keeps walking. We don’t know why. Perhaps he didn’t want to bring attention to himself, putting himself in danger. All we know is he kept walking.
And then a temple assistant came along. I wonder if he saw the priest ahead of him and followed his example of inaction.
When we neglect to serve as God calls us to, we can be assured of one thing: someone is always watching and using us as an example or justification for not following God. Think about that. Your actions have a ripple effect. It can be fun to think that the positive we are doing in the world will have effects that we cannot even imagine – I often hear it said, “You won’t know all the good you’ve done until you get to heaven.” That is so true – and positive reinforcement often inspires us to keep up the good fight. But the hard reality is that our negative actions, or lack of action, also gives OTHERS the justification to NOT ACT. Luke 12:48 tells us When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required. The priest was set apart as an example in the religious community, and what he did mattered. Others watched. He ignored the hurting man, giving others the justification to do the same.
Finally, a Samaritan came by. I imagine the crowd gasped…or maybe groaned when Jesus said this. Jews and Samaritans hated each other, surely HE wouldn’t help this man whom he had absolutely no loyalty towards. And yet, the listeners were surprised.
The Samaritan man felt compassion. He went to the victim, soothed his wounds, and took him to a place of safety, even paying for his care. This Samaritan man probably feared for his own safety as much as the others did, but he recognized and loved the hurt man as a fellow human.
This story just grips me. In this world of big government and judgment and claiming our own rights in society, how many times have I walked by a victim, not wanting to mess up my own day? How do I respond to the person from another country fleeing from a war-torn or gang-infested country? How do I treat the addict begging for money on the street? What compassion do I have for the child who lived a life of neglect and, now mentally unstable, lashes out in violent anger?
These are NOT easy questions, and there is no easy answer, but that doesn’t mean we should put our heads down and keep walking, ignoring the victims around us.
36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.
37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”
Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”
Go and do the same. Go and show mercy to the undeserving. Reach out to those who look like nothing can help. Cross the barrier of racism and hatred, offering compassion and care.
Go and do the same.
I don’t know what that means for you. If I’m being honest, I don’t know what it means for me. That is why we must search God’s heart. We must lean on the Holy Spirit’s wisdom. And when He calls us to a specific task, we must go obediently and immediately.
There are those who are Big Brothers and Big Sisters – they make a lasting difference in a single life. There are women who rock babies who have been born with an addiction. There are prison ministries that reach the lost for Jesus. There are doctors and nurses who have fought through a pandemic, caring for one patient at a time. There are preschool teachers and daycare workers who make it possible for other moms to go to work to provide for their families. There are military personel who fight for freedom and equality.
The list goes on and on. Not one of us can do it all, and we aren’t called to. But we are EACH called to something. We EACH are called to make a difference, to make an impact, and to set an example.
Make no mistake, God called you to this podcast for a reason. There is a hurting soul waiting on the side of the road for you. Don’t keep your head down. Don’t walk by. Don’t justify your inaction. Remember…
Go…and do the same.
Dear Most Holy God! Your words are good, and your words are sometimes difficult to hear. Father, I know that many are walking away from this teaching with more questions than answers. There is no doubt you are calling each of us to show compassion to others, compassion for our neighbors who may not even look like us. Will you show each of us our exact calling for today? Please make it so clear that we don’t even WANT to put our heads down and walk by. Give us eyes to see, hearts full of compassion, courage against fear, and excitement to follow your call in obedience. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.