The Parable about Love - Riverside Indonesian Fellowship

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Bible Study 2021
The Parable about Love
Open your bible to Luke 10:30-37 and the familiar parable of the Good Samaritan. A lot of Christians and non-Christians know something about this. We all know what it means when you call someone a Good Samaritan. That is a compliment for someone who shows compassion, mercy and help to a person in need. God is honored by that. But the parable of the Good Samaritan is often misunderstood.

People are familiar with the story but not with the purpose of the story. And we can expect that because the truth of our Lord’s parable teaching is hidden. In Luke 10:21 Jesus says to his followers, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.”

And in verse 23 turning to His disciples He said, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.” And then Jesus begins with this parable. Parables are our direct connection where our Lord reveals truth to His disciples and hiding it from his rejecters.

This parable therefore will be misunderstood by non-believers. It becomes to them a simple story about showing kindness. For believers it would be different because we have eyes to see and ears to hear, but we need some help. For example going back in church history you get some strange interpretations and even now you get some wrong interpretations. Today it is used to defend social justice and socialism.

So “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 Levite 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, telling him,

‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’ 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.” Easy to understand right? But this is not an allegory.

There is no secret hidden meaning that must be mystically discerned. Modern interpreters also have missed the point. Anytime you are talking about poverty and the reallocation of wealth and taxing the wealthy to provide for the poor, social justice and all forms of socialism, you will find somewhere the story of the Good Samaritan. Somebody cared for the poor and is sacrificing his wealth for the sake of someone else.

Jim Wallace says the story of the Good Samaritan is a problem, it seems to promote short term aid without addressing long term justice. We need to dig up the root causes of injustice that made the bandit attack others. The Good Samaritan story is open ended, leaving us questions to the preservation of social justice. Listen, believing in helping people is good, but this has nothing to do with this story.

But I am not surprised that this is misunderstood, because Jesus said that these things are only understood by people who have eyes to see. Liberation theology says this is about the all-inclusive need for solidarity. Most of us would not get caught up in these forms of social justice, they would just say it’s about helping people who are suffering. And certainly God requires us to be kind and loving.

But we need to know that all parables are salvation stories. In fact this is Jesus doing personal evangelism on a particular man standing in front of Him. All 40 parables are about salvation in one form or another. They are profound and they are theological and they are doctrinal and they are presentations of truths that is hidden from them who have no ears to hear nor eyes to see.

But revealed to those who are believers. They are riddles if not explained. Jesus in the New Testament explains many of them and for those that are not explained specifically, when you begin to hear the explanations of some of them, you have enough information for those He does not specifically explains. And by the time you get the whole of Scripture, we know enough about salvation to interpret them.

This is a scene of personal evangelism. It is like Jesus and Nicodemus in John 3, it is parallel to Jesus and the young ruler in Matthew 19. So let us set the scene in verse 25 which establishes the intent of the parable, “On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” This tells us that his motive was just to trap Jesus so they could condemn Him and kill Him.

He was not seeking the truth. He was part of the religious establishment and he was an expert in the Old Testament Law. So here he is testing Jesus hoping He would fail. And he asked Him the same question the rich young ruler asked Him, and he asked the same question that Nicodemus had in his heart. “Teacher what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” What is the path to heaven?

That is the right question asked to exactly the right person. Jesus is Himself eternal Life and the life giver. But this guy did not ask it to find out but he asked it to trap Jesus to embarrass Him and to find Him guilty of a crime. Notice what Jesus says in verse 26, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” Let’s go back to the Old Testament, what does it say?

This is a smart scholar of Old Testament Scripture, and he gives exactly the right answer. Verse 27, “He answered, “‘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, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” These are two scriptures that sum up the entire Law of God. Jesus says that is the fulfillment of all the Laws and the Prophets.

The first half of the Ten Commandments deal with loving God and the second half deals with loving others. This is a summation of that. All the rest of the Law has to do with either your relationship with God or your relationship with other people. And what does the Old Testament require? Perfect love to God and perfect love to men. You are to love your neighbor the same way you love yourself.

Verse 28, “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” Why is Jesus telling him that? Because there is another issue here, how does this man view himself? There is no good news unless the man accepts the bad news. Well this man has no interest in a true evaluation of his condition. This is clear in verse 29, “But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

He is so self-righteous, so self-justifying that he doesn’t think about how he loves God or how he loves men, all he thinks about is maybe you have a different definition of neighbor. He is oblivious to his true condition. He is hostile to the notion that he is not righteous, that he is not justified, that he does not already have eternal life. He thinks he loves God and he loves his neighbor.

In Matthew 5:43 Jesus says. “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies!” So enemies were not included as neighbors by the rabbis. The Old Testament actually says, “love your stranger in your midst.” But the Jews did not love their enemies, they did not love their strangers, furthermore they did not love all Jews, only the people in their elite group.

They justified that in Psalm 139:21-22, “O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you? Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you? 22 Yes, I hate them with total hatred, for your enemies are my enemies.” So they turned hatred for the enemies of God into a virtue in which they justified themselves hating people in their own society. In Exodus 23 it required compassion on an ox if it fell into a ditch.

But they treated people worse than that. They were not considered neighbors. So that is why the lawyer said mockingly, ‘Who is my neighbor?’ He said to Jesus give me a definition of neighbor. That means that in his own mind he had passed the requirement of loving God perfectly and loving his neighbor. This is a man who will not come to a real understanding of his condition.

He thinks he loves God perfectly the way God requires of him and that he loves the people he is supposed to love, I’m ok with God and I’m ok with people, I’m fine justifying himself. This is a lost man. This is one of the many religious people that Jesus encounters in His life who think they can earn eternal life by their virtue, by their morality, by their religion, by their emotional connections to God.

But Jesus acts in an evangelistic compassion with this man and He gives to this man one more powerful insight. The purpose of this story is to crush this guy’s self-righteousness. It is really a wake-up call to show him that he is doomed. The story is there to shatter his pride, to shatter his false spirituality. By the way you might feel self-righteous when you hear about the Priest and the Levite on the other side of the road.

But in condemning them you condemn yourself. And I condemn myself. Because that is how we behave most of the time. On the surface it seems like a simple story about kindness, but it is anything but a simple story. So let us look at it, Jesus is replying to a man that is justifying himself. Now what are you going to do if you want to evangelize him, and you‘re going to give him a gospel message.

They are self-righteous because they are religious, they go to church, they were baptized, they love God, and they know about Jesus, they do religious works, etc. How are going to approach them? How do you break through? The popular thing today is to mention the Ten Commandments and say do you violate this commandment and violate this and violate that. Jesus does not do that.

He has a far more devastating approach than just isolating commandments. How am I get this guy to realize that he is lost? That is the point. How can I make him realize that he is lost before I get him saved? Verse 30, “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.”

Jesus made up a simple story. Jerusalem is about 3000’ above sea level and Jericho is a 1000’ below sea level. And for 17 miles there is a very winding scary road between them, filled with rocks and it is an ideal hide-out for robbers. It is a place with much violence and bloodshed. Just out of nowhere they attacked and beat him and took everything that he had including his outer clothes.

Verse 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.” At first the lawyer heard a priest came by, which sounded good. That gave the listeners a little hope, after all a priest was somebody who knew the Old Testament, knew you were to show kindness, knew you were to minister to strangers.

Leviticus 19:34 says, “Treat foreigners like native-born Israelites, and love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners living in the land of Egypt.” Psalm 37:21 says, “The wicked borrow and never repay, but the godly are generous givers.” And Micah 6:6, 8 says, “What can we bring to the Lord? 8 do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

A priest would know that. But the priest passes by on the other side completely ignoring this fallen man. He shuns him. So the priest has zero love for the man. And zero love for God, because if he loved God he would obey what God wants by loving the stranger and loving his neighbor. This priest is a typical priest in the Jewish system who is self-justified and looks righteous from the outside.

Some commentators say, he didn’t cross the road because he didn’t want to touch a corpse and become unclean. Some say he didn’t want to cross because he would become defiled and he had to come back to the temple later. Some say, he didn’t want to come too close because some robbers might still be lurking around. Some say he didn’t go over there because the man was beaten because that was a judgment from God.

Guess what, that man had no thoughts like that because he did not exist. This is a parable, a story. The point is simple, you would expect a priest who represents God and also represents the people to God to love God enough to do what God said. He did not love God and he did not love others. He is a representations of that Jewish self-righteous believe system. This a generic attitude of hate towards others.

Verse 32, “A Levite walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.” From the tribe of Levi, son of Jacob, but not the family of Aaron, so not the priesthood family, but still they assisted in the temple. They worked on the liturgy, policed the temple and they took care of the needs in the temple. This is a religious man connected to the priesthood.

We would expect him to love God and love his fellow man but he doesn’t either. If he loved God he would do what God loved, and that would be to love your neighbor as yourself and he would care for this wounded man. So he does not love God or his neighbor. So we see a couple of people who have no eternal life. Will anyone do what is right? Will anyone show love?

Verse 33, “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him.” This is a shock, Jesus just indicted the Jewish establishment in this story. And now He introduces a hated person, a Samaritan who is on a journey and came upon him. The very existence of a Samaritan is seen as evil because they intermarried with Gentiles when the northern kingdom was occupied.

They were evil because they tried to disrupt the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple when they came back from captivity. They were so evil that the Jews in 128 BC attacked and destroyed their temple. If you want to call someone a bad name you called him a Samaritan. John 8:48 says, “The Jews said to Jesus, “You Samaritan devil! Didn’t we say all along that you were possessed by a demon?”

Samaritans had no access to the temple, no access to worship, no access to sacrifice, no access to God. And here in this story he does the right thing. What is the point? Two men representing the Jewish establishment who thought they love God and love others as themselves, had absolutely no love. This religious system is bankrupt and the people who are justifying themselves are lying and lost.

Verse 34-35, “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 denarii coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’

But this one man who is an outcast, demonstrates the quality of loving your neighbor as yourself. He takes center stage in this story and this is shocking to the listeners. Because what this Samaritan does is so extensive. This is an amazing care for someone he does not know. He goes beyond just helping. Stays with him the whole night and then gives the innkeeper the next day 2 denarii.

Not too long after this there was a sign board found from an inn in that same area, and it cost 1/32 of a denarius to stay one night. So for 2 denarii this wounded man could stay for 2 months. The point is that this is lavish love. This is the ultimate attention that could possibly be given. And if that is not enough he says to the innkeeper, take care of him and whatever more you spend when I return I will repay you.

Now there is a formula for extortion. What happens when you tell an innkeeper to spend whatever you want to spend and when I come back I will repay you for whatever you spend? This is lavish love. And that is the whole point of the story. This is amazing generosity for a complete stranger, to one who is his enemy, who hates him. Jesus is saying this is what loving your neighbor as yourself means.

Have you ever done that for anybody else? Do you do that for everybody else in that condition? People who think that giving money to poor people is that they have done social justice and fulfilled the principle in this story should really look at this story again, because they would be condemned by it. If you think that sending money somewhere is what this story says, you missed the point.

Who does this? Somebody did this once. Well that is not good enough. Ten times is not good enough. If you want eternal life, you need to love your God with all your soul, mind and strength all the time and love your neighbor as yourself all the time. Who does that? Nobody! Not you, not me. Telling the innkeeper to do what is takes is love without limits, love without boundaries. That is the whole point.

This is the love that the Samaritan would do for himself. So the Good Samaritan loves the man as he loves himself. Can we do that all the time? Is this your constant life pattern? The people that do social justice work and think that they are fulfilling this, need to look at this again. Because if you don’t love God perfectly and love men perfectly all the time, you will not enter heaven, if you come by way of the Law.

So Jesus asked in verse 36, “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Now the Lord just changed the question. Verse 29 asked, who is my neighbor? This is not about who your neighbor is, this is about, are you a neighbor? It is not about who qualifies as my neighbor? This is about whether you are a neighbor who loves unconditionally.

Demonstrate a love that knows no qualification. Do it to everyone in your path, all the time where there is a need. Love lavishly, love sacrificially, love generously, love tenderly, love limitless, love kindly, love as long as the need exists, to every person, all the time, even if that person is your enemy. Who loves like that? The lawyer answered, the man who showed mercy to him.

And then Jesus says to him do the same. You go love like that and you will have eternal life. What should have been his response? He should have said, I have never loved anybody like that. I have never loved the other Pharisees like that. I only love me like that. The conviction is laid upon that man and then there is nothing. You know there is nothing you can do if they do not accept the bad news about their condition.

We all have to admit that we cannot love like that. We need mercy and forgiveness, we need grace, and that is why it says in Romans 3 that no man is justified by the Law. We are only justified by faith in Jesus Christ, who is the propitiation for our sins, and through His sacrifice has paid in full our debt to God. So that He can be just and declare us righteous. This is about salvation of a person!

© 2017 Ferdy Gunawan

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