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Who is my Neighbor
05/11/2008
Scripture: Luke 10:1-37; Matthew 16:24; Numbers 19:...
Running time: 1 hour, 04 minutes, 42 seconds.


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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

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I want to open this morning by having someone read Luke 10:1-16

You can imagine the excitement or anxiousness the 72 had when they listened to Jesus and prepared for their trip. They were going to be healing the sick and casting out demons. Can you imagine what would happen to Quincy if we went out doing the same thing? It would be neat to have Chuck get up some Sunday morning and say, when you go out, cast out a few demons on the way and if there is someone sick that you meet, go ahead and heal them while you are there.

How many times when you meet people who are having so much bad happening in their lives you wish you could just perform a miracle and fix the problem through the power of Jesus name?

How do you feel about the harvest here in Quincy? Are people ripe for the harvest? What will it take for you to be more involved in the harvest business?

I think verse 23 sums up a lot of what the Gospels are all about. I love teaching the Old Testament especially when things in the old are pointing to the things in the new. As we studied Elijah, I tried to point out many of the similarities between Elijah and Jesus. A lot of what the Jews saw in Jesus, they read about first in the life of Elijah. John the Baptist and Jesus were both recognized as possibly being Elijah because of how similar they were with the life of Elijah.

Luke 10:23 Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. 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.”

Can you imagine being the disciples at that moment and hearing those words? What a moving feeling it had to be realizing that all that the OT pointed to, pointed in their direction. That everything they studied and worshiped in the synagogue was about the Messiah they were now traveling with.

Do you think they even realized the extent of what Jesus told them?

All of this leads us into what we are going to study today. Personally, I think it strikes at the very heart of what it is to be a Christian. The story of the Good Samaritan is the practical application of what it is to be a follower of Jesus. In order to witness in the way Jesus wants us to, the attitude of the Good Samaritan is essential. We have to have it.

Do you remember what it takes to be a follower of Jesus?

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

In order to be the neighbor Jesus wants us to be, it will be impossible to do it without the attitude of the Samaritan. I personally don’t think it can be done without first following Jesus. I am not talking about certain people being able to do this; I am talking about the whole church having this attitude.

What part of Quincy is considered unsafe to walk alone at night or early morning? Why is it unsafe?

If you were to come upon a person, at night, which had been hurt and lying in the street, would you most likely:

• Rush to the person and try to give help?
• Rush home, call the police, and report the situation? Let the police handle the problem?
• Rush home, lock the door behind you, and feel sorry for the person?
• Thank God that that person wasn’t you?

Before we start, it is real important to understand the setting of this illustration. The road from Jericho to Jerusalem was a very dangerous road. Everyone knew this. It was very unwise to travel this road alone and especially at night. It was a road infested with thieves and robbers.

It was the main road for those to travel who came from Galilee to Jerusalem. It was the longer route but they traveled it because they didn’t want to travel through Samaria because the Jews hated the Samaritans. It is ironic that Jesus uses a Samaritan as the good guy on this road.

Jericho is about 15 miles to the northeast from Jerusalem. Jerusalem sits at about 2500 feet above sea level. Jericho sits at about 1300 feet below sea level. There is a 3800-foot difference in elevation within those 15 miles. To travel from Jerusalem was much easier than to travel to Jerusalem. The terrain is very rugged and the road is twisted and winding. It was very dangerous to travel it without the robbers hiding there. Some of us from this church traveled that road by bus. It was quite the experience.

In the 5th century, Jerome nicknamed it the “Bloody Way”. In the 19th century, it was still necessary to pay safety money to the Sheiks before you could travel on it. As late as the 1930’s there were bandits that would rob cars and busses and then run and hide up into the hills. When Jesus tells this story, he was telling about the kind of thing that happened there all the time.

At this time in Jesus ministry, He was encountering the teachers of the law, the Pharisees and the Jewish authorities. Jesus was very popular and they were working hard to discredit Jesus as much as possible. Jesus was teaching about the Kingdom of God that was coming. His concept about eternal life was much different than the Jew’s concept. We see this in the following passage.

Luke 10:25-29 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 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.” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

What was the difference between how this teacher of the law viewed eternal life and how Jesus viewed it? Who is testing whom in this encounter? Does the lawyer think he passed the test in verse 28? How so? Why does he need to justify himself?

Luke 10: 30-35 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins£ and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

Why do you think Jesus answers with a story and not a straight answer?

Let’s look at the characters in this story:

The traveler:

What an idiot. It is obvious that he was a reckless character. No one traveled the Jericho road alone. If you had to travel it, you always traveled in numbers, in convoys or caravans. This man had no one to blame but himself for his problem. Jesus knew this. Look at Luke 2:41-44. When Jesus was a boy, he learned you didn’t travel alone. When Jesus traveled to Jerusalem, he always traveled with his 12 disciples.

How sympathetic are you with people who get themselves in bad situations? Are you more likely to feel compelled to help a person who fell into trouble due to circumstances out of their control, or with the person who causes their own trouble?

The Priest:

The priest has a problem.

Numbers 19:11-13 “Whoever touches the dead body of anyone will be unclean for seven days. He must purify himself with the water on the third day and on the seventh day; then he will be clean. But if he does not purify himself on the third and seventh days, he will not be clean. Whoever touches the dead body of anyone and fails to purify himself defiles the LORD’S tabernacle. That person must be cut off from Israel. Because the water of cleansing has not been sprinkled on him, he is unclean; his uncleanness remains on him.

So what is his problem and what decision does he have to make whether to help this man or not? He could not be sure if the man along side the road was dead or not. If he helped the man and the man was dead, he would not be able to work at his job for 7 days. He decided to set the claims of ceremony above those of charity. The temple meant more to him than the pain of man.

Does the church do this today?

The Levite:

His problem would have been similar to the priests but a little different. His job would not have been in jeopardy like the priests but he had other considerations to think about. One of the tricks used by the bandits was to act like a person in distress and when someone would approach to help, his friends would attack from anther direction. He probably was aware of this tactic.

How many times do we not help others in need out of fear or worry that we might be in danger or that the person in distress is out to trick us? Is this justification not to help?

The Samaritan:

The listeners to Jesus would expect the villain to be the Samaritan. They were dogs and could not be trusted according to the Jews. It is obvious that this man traveled this road often and probably stayed at the inn on a regular basis. Samaritans were viewed as heretics and a breaker of ceremonial law. Jesus himself was called a Samaritan.

John 8:48 The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?”

There are two interesting things to note about this man that makes it easy to help others in times of stress.

1) His credit was good. The innkeeper trusted him. The man might have been doctrinally unsound, but he was honest.

2) He alone was prepared to help. He might have been a heretic, but he had the love of God in his heart.

The Teaching In This Parable:

It is interesting how Jesus puts the question to the teacher of the law. The lawyer asks Jesus the question on how to inherit eternal life and Jesus asks:

Luke 10:26 What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

Strict orthodox Jews wore on their heads or around their wrists little leather boxes called phylacteries. These contained certain passages of scriptures. One of them reads, “You will love the Lord your God” and another scripture that bids a man to love his neighbor. Jesus essentially is saying here, look at what is written on your phylactery. What does it say?

But the Jews had a very narrow definition of who their neighbor was. To the Jew, his neighbor was another fellow Jew.

Jesus answer involves three things:

1) We must help man even when he has brought his trouble on himself.
2) Any man of any nation who is in need is our neighbor.
3) The help must be practical. It must involve compassion-do something about the problem.

Do you know the difference between your friend and your neighbor? You chose your friends. God gives you your neighbor.

Our friends are the people whom we choose; usually friends are the same sort of people as ourselves. My neighbor is the man whom I do not choose; he is the man whom God gives to me. He is the man who happens to live in the house next to mine; he is the man who happens to sit opposite to me in the train; he is the clerk who works at the desk next to mine. I have no right to say that he is no concern of mine, because, if I am a Christian, I know that he is the man whom God has given to me.