So I have a New Testament lecture class for 2 hours every week on Thursdays...which is probably the best class I have, and the first part of the lecture blew my mind yesterday. And I thought, who better to share this with than my dearest friends (the ones who read my blog!). So get ready to see the parable of the Good Samaritan like you never have before!
Luke 10:30-37 tells the story of an expert in the law/religious scholar asking Jesus how to inherit eternal life. But first, some background info that changed things for me.
First off, the lawyer is not asking Jesus because He is really interested in following Jesus...as a religious scholar and faithful Jew, the fact that Jesus was claiming to be the Son of God and the Messiah would have been considered blasphemy, and the man wouldn't have been interested in following the teachings of Jesus. It seems more like he was just curious as to what Jesus' answer would be, trying to see if he could catch him saying something that was contrary to the law... the man was most likely in a state of mind that he DID NOT NEED JESUS. So Jesus turns it around and asks him, "What is written in the law, How do you read it?"...I love Jesus, how clever is he? Also, the religious scholar would have hated the priests and the Levites because that group was not adhering to what was true Jewish law, they had in large part, pledged their loyalty to Rome at the time. Another thing, all Jews HATED Samaritans...they were considered foreigners in the land God had promised to Israel.
Back to the story...So Jesus turns the question around to the man, and the man answers essentially; Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus says he has answered correctly and then tells a story.
Most people read the story as a lesson in loving those in need. Because the first two people in the story are a priest and a Levite, we liken ourselves to them, thinking that they represent modern day Christians. When the third man who comes is a Samaritan, we are all told that they were not popular people and that the "Christians" in the story should have been the ones to help...not the "lost person" who is represented by the Samaritan. Our neighbor is the man on the road who needs help. Whell this very well could mean that...it is definitely valid and makes sense...but I think there is another way to see it.
Jesus was telling this story to a man who 1) thought He had it together, was a good person, knew the law, and probably lived by the law...doesn't need Jesus 2)hates priests because He thinks they are disloyal, but hates the Samaritans even more. So when he hears that a priest and a Levite passed by a man in need and did nothing...it comes as NO surprise to him. In his mind, of course they wouldn't help...they are awful people who don't love God anyway. Jesus has set him up to think that the third person will probably be someone like him...a law abiding/God-fearing Jew who loves his neighbor. But then, the hero of the story turns out to be a filthy Samaritan. Someone who he hates.
He realizes that the neighbor he should learn to love is not the man on the road...but the Samaritan. The one who, despite his mercy shown towards the man in need, is still considered an evil sinner who would never be able to inherit eternal life.
The lawyer had earlier told Jesus, "Love your neighbor as yourself" was criteria to get into heaven. He is in quite a situation now, because he has just realized he DOES NOT love his neighbor. The story has revealed that there is hatred in his heart by his reaction to the hero being a Samaritan.
I was skeptical at first too...and I'm not even doing the thought justice...but maybe this modern day version will help the idea.
Same storyline...man gets mugged on the side of the road, looks filthy, all his money is gone, he is waving for help on the side of the road. CEO of a large company drives by, doesn't help. Politician drives by, doesn't help. That doesn't surprise any of us because we don't expect those people to help anway right? A third man drives by, picks up the man who needs help. Drives him into town, finds and pays for a hotel room for him. Makes sure he is taken care of not only that night, but until he finds somewhere permanent. Finds him work maybe, a permanent place to live, and introduces him to his friends and so on...Sounds like something we would hope we would do right? A nice Texan, a little Southern hospitality, not too far of a stretch that we would help someone in need. See, when it's just a "third person" that helps, it can still be about loving your neighbor...we feel like we are the "third person".
BUT what if I told you that the hero of this story was a homosexual man, who runs an abortion clinic with his life partner...
Feels wierd right? We don't want to be the "third person" anymore, because they aren't a good person. But they did do the right thing...they helped, they loved, the reached out. And we see by our gut reaction to that punch line, that we would have a MUCH easier time loving the victim on the road than the gay man who makes abortion possible. We need Jesus...because without him we can't love our neighbor the right way, and without that we can't have eternal life.
This sotry was meant to show the lawyer that despite how much he thought he did the right thing and followed the law...he didn't love his neighbor.
Hope you found this interesting, I know I did. And I have really enjoyed thinking about it and reading more to see if I agree that this is how the story was meant to be read. More than ever before I am seeing how the Word is alive, and always fresh.
I pray you are all falling more in love with Jesus everyday. Can't wait to hear what God is doing there, because I know He is using you all in the places He has put you. He is worth whatever price you have to pay I promise! You are loved and missed.