I went to church this morning with my family and heard a message I’d like to share with you.
You might have heard the parable Jesus told about the “Good Samaritan”. It is found in Luke 10:25-37 in the Bible.
Basically, an expert in religious law was trying to trap Jesus by asking him what he must do to inherit eternal life. He already knew the answer Jesus was after: “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 neighbour as yourself.” Luke 10:27
Christianity is different to other religions where following the law is the most important requirement. Christianity upholds love and forgiveness above rules and regulations.
Jesus moves the discussion with the “religious expert” away from law and tells a story to teach this man about love.
Jesus describes the journey of a man who was attacked by robbers and beaten, left by the road almost dead. Firstly a priest walked by and when he saw the man, he crossed the road and continued on his way. Next a Levite came along. Levites were religious priests, dedicated to the church. The Levite also crossed the road and walked past. Finally, a Samaritan came along. Samaritans were outcasts and rejected by the Jews, so this would have made an impact on the man Jesus was speaking with. The Samaritan took pity on the man. He bandaged his wounds, carried him on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day, the Samaritan paid the innkeeper to look after the man until he returns, when he would pay the innkeeper more if needed.
Jesus asked the man which person in the story was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?
“The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise”.
Now, I have heard this story at Sunday School and in Church all my life. Every time I hear this story, the main point is that we should do the right thing and love our neighbour just like the Samaritan loved the injured man. Today I heard something different. I know I won’t do Pastor Brett justice in my explanation, but I really want to share it with you anyway.
There is a word we need to learn. It’s a Greek word and sounds awesome:
splagchnizomai: to be moved in the inward parts, i.e. to feel compassion
This word, splagchnizomai, describes the Samaritan. He was moved within and felt compassion. He picked up the man, cared for him, and loved him with a love that can’t be generated by the law. This is Jesus. Jesus does this for us (we are the man who was attacked, left vulnerable and weak). Splagchnizomai is exactly what Jesus feels for us. He died for us because of the compassion he feels in the inward parts. Jesus is the only one who has this pure love, but he wants us to let him love us.
The story of the Good Samaritan is not a story about teaching us how to be “good”. This is a story about Jesus’ love for this man (the expert in the law) and for us. That man asked what we should do to inherit eternal life. When you inherit something, it’s given to you because of the family you were born into, because someone died so that you could receive it. Jesus died for us. We have already inherited eternal life, there is nothing we can do to earn this gift of grace.
Jesus picks us up in our baptism, he dusts us off and wants to look after us. This story is about what God does for us, not what we do for our neighbours. However, Jesus does tell us to “go and do likewise.”
There are things we can do for our neighbours. We can love them by praying for them and listening to them. Our neighbours are the people we see every day. The lady who serves us at the fruit shop, the family in the house next door, the garbage truck driver….
Let’s pray for these people and see what God does. Let’s listen to our neighbours and have conversations with them and be ready for God to show us opportunities to come to them in His name and in His place. Let’s love our neighbours as Jesus loves us.
Let’s show them splagchnizomai.