Formations Lesson for July 18- Love Kindness
July 6 2010 by Don Gordon, senior pastor, Yates Baptist Church, Durham

Focal Passage: Luke 10:25-37  

This well-known story of the Good Samaritan begins with an expert in the Law asking Jesus a question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus responds with a question about the Scriptures: “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” The expert gives a good answer. He combines the Shema (Deut 6:5) and Lev. 19:17-18 as the means to eternal life. Eternal life is found in loving God with everything we’ve got and loving our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus commends the expert for his good answer and merely tells him to live according to this correct answer and he “will live,” which presumably means “live forever.” 

One gets the feeling that Jesus assumed the conversation was over. This was an easy question and the expert already knew the answer. Case closed. But the case wasn’t closed. The lawyer wanted to “justify himself” with a follow up question: “Who is my neighbor?” Implicit in the question is the assumption that there are those who are not my neighbors. 

Rather than giving the lawyer a legal definition of neighbor Jesus told him a story. “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho.” Jerusalem is 2,300 feet above sea level and Jericho is 1,300 feet below sea level (near the Dead Sea). The 17-mile trek was notoriously rocky, filled with places where robbers could easily hide. As late as the 19th century people still had to pay “safety money” to local sheiks to insure their safe passage.

The disciples were delighted to hear Jesus name religious leaders as those who failed to help the wounded traveler. However, they were probably stunned when a Samaritan was put in a positive light.

The Samaritans were a remnant of Israel’s northern tribes that remained in the land when most everyone was exiled to Assyria in 722 BC. Eventually they intermarried with the Assyrians causing them to be viewed by the Jews as impure. Hostility and violence climaxed in 109 BC when John Jyrcanus, then Judean king, destroyed the Samaritan temple.

Jesus’ story about the Good Samaritan taught that our neighbors go beyond family, race, and nationality. Loving our neighbor must be practical, it is manifest in acts of kindness. Notice the verbs used to describe what the Good Samaritan did: went, bound, pour, set, brought, took care, gave money. Loving our neighbor means being kind in practical ways to people we encounter who need our help. 

Perhaps our lesson could lead to a discussion on how to be kind to people in our neighborhoods.
7/6/2010 9:06:00 AM by Don Gordon, senior pastor, Yates Baptist Church, Durham | with 0 comments




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