Sermon title:  JESUS TEACHES US TO LOVE GOD AND LOVE OUR NEIGHBOR

Luke 10:25-42                         Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, February 3, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

For over a year now, we’ve been going through the 4 Gospels,

in the order that events occurred,

so that we can look at everything our Lord Jesus said

and everything our Lord Jesus did

without skipping or missing anything.

 

It’s appropriate to do that,

because Deuteronomy 8:3 says,

“man does not live on bread alone

but on every word

that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”

 

And we don’t want to miss anything

of all the good words our Lord Jesus spoke.

 

So, this morning we come

to a very important passage

where Jesus tells us

about loving God and loving our neighbor.

 

Jesus talks about the same thing

in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark,

but here in Luke Chapter 10 he gives us

a parable to illustrate the point—

the parable of the Good Samaritan.

 

Now, the expression “Good Samaritan”

is a term that’s part of everyone’s vocabulary today.

 

We’ll hear a news report

about an automobile accident,

and there’s happy ending,

because a passing motorist pulled over to help

and saved someone’s life.

They call that helpful individual

“a Good Samaritan.”

 

But how many people realize

that the expression comes straight from the Bible?—

from this parable of Jesus?

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Sometimes Jesus got the attention

of his disciples and the crowds

and simply began teaching them.

 

But, on other occasions,

someone else raised a question

or threw out a challenge,

and Jesus spoke in response.

 

And that seems to be the case here in Luke Chapter 10.

 

In verse 25, it’s one of the scribes and Pharisees—

-- groups that opposed Jesus –

a man from among Jesus’ enemies who raised a question,

or a challenge to put Jesus to the test.

 

Luke 10:25 tells us,

 

25 On one occasion an expert in the law

stood up to test Jesus.

 

"Teacher," he asked,

"what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

 

Now, bear in mind,

that this conversation is taking place

before our Lord established the New Covenant—

before he shed his blood on the Cross.

So, Jesus doesn’t tell the man how to become a Christian.

 

Instead, he directed him

to the Old Testament Law Covenant

that was still in force for the Jewish people.

 

In Verse 26, Jesus answered,

 

26 "What is written in the Law?" he replied.

"How do you read it?"

 

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.' "

 

28 "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied.

"Do this and you will live."

 

If that man loved God and loved his neighbor,

he would end up keeping all of God’s law.

 

In fact, at Matthew 22:40, Jesus said

“The whole law and the prophets

depend on these two commandments."

 

But this man wasn’t satisfied with Jesus’ answer.

 

The scribes and Pharisees

were a very inward-centered group.

 

They considered themselves to be the only good and righteous people,

and they dismissed outsiders

as lost sinners

who weren’t worth the time of day.

 

So, Verse 29 says,

 

29 But he wanted to justify himself,

so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

 

Apparently, he was hoping

Jesus would let him off the hook,

and allow him to see only his friends—

his fellow scribes and Pharisees—

as his neighbor.

But, instead,

Jesus told him this parable, or illustration:

 

30 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.

 

31 A priest happened to be going down the same road,

and when he saw the man,

he passed by on the other side.

 

Now that wasn’t a Roman Catholic priest, of course.

 

There was no Catholic church at that time.

 

In the Old Testament, God arranged for Jewish priests

to work at the Temple in Jerusalem,

and they were assisted in that Temple work

by men who from the Israelite tribe of Levi,

who were called Levites.

 

32 So too, a Levite,

when he came to the place and saw him,

passed by on the other side.

 

The priest and the Levite

were both supposed to be holy men, godly men.

 

But they both turned away

from that poor victim of crime

who lay helpless and bleeding at the side of the road.

 

The priest and the Levite both

went over to the other side of the road

so they could pass by without even looking at

this poor man

who was suffering and in pain.

 

33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled,

came where the man was;

and when he saw him, he took pity on him.

 

34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds,

pouring on oil and wine.

 

The alcohol in wine would act as a disinfectant,

and the olive oil would help promote healing.

 

But, who was this man,

who helped the poor victim?

 

The Samaritans were the inhabitants of Samaria—

the territory that lay to the north of Judea,

between Judea and Galilee.

 

Samaria was originally part of the Northern kingdom of Israel.

 

But the Jews who lived there

were unfaithful to God--

living immorally and worshiping idols—

so God sent the Assyrian Empire

to conquer them

hundreds of years before Christ.

 

The Assyrians

deported the Jews out of Samaria.

 

And they replaced them

with people from other nations they had conquered.

 

So, the result was

that Samaria was populated by non-Jewish people.

 

So, you had Jewish Galilee in the north,

where Jesus did much of his preaching,

and where he recruited his Apostles

from among the fishermen at the Sea of Galilee.

 

And in the south

you had Jewish Jerusalem and Judea.

 

 

But, in between, you had Samaria,

populated by a mixed breed of people from various nations.

 

The Jews in Jerusalem looked down on these Samaritans,

and wouldn’t associate with them,

or even talk to them.

 

But, in this story Jesus was telling,--

to illustrate how to love your neighbor,

Jesus chose to make a Samaritan man

the hero of the story.

 

The priest and the Levite—

the so-called holy men of the Jews—

they passed by on the other side of the road,

to avoid helping or even looking at

the poor man who had been beaten and robbed.

 

But it was a Samaritan man who stopped

and went out of his way to help.

 

Not only did he clean and bandage the man’s wounds,

but,

 

Then he put the man on his own donkey,

took him to an inn and took care of him.

 

35 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.'

 

Wow! 

That is really going out of your way to help.

 

So, after telling this story,

Jesus turned to the man who had asked him,

"And who is my neighbor?"

and Jesus asked him,

 

36 "Which of these three do you think

was a neighbor

to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"

 

37 The expert in the law replied,

"The one who had mercy on him."

 

Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

 

What a powerful illustration!

 

We learn from it that loving our “neighbor”

doesn’t mean just people who are like us

fellow church members,

people of our own race, ethnicity or nationality.

 

It means loving our fellow human,

whoever he or she may be—

especially if he is in need, and we can help.

 

Jesus’ parable also teaches us

that loving our neighbor involves taking action.

 

It’s not just a matter of

having a warm and fuzzy feeling for our neighbor.

 

Jesus makes “love into an action verb.

 

We take loving action

when we help at soup kitchens,

or donate food to the Salvation Army,

as this church always does around the holidays,

and when we volunteer

to help people in other circumstances.

 

Now, here in America,

most people have their basic needs provided for.

 

It’s a wealthy country.

 

But there is a spiritual poverty—

a hopelessness experienced by people who don’t know Jesus.

 

There’s a spiritual crisis

that drives people to drink, drugs and suicide.

 

And we have something that can help them.

 

We have the only real answer for their spiritual need.

 

We have the Gospel of Christ,

and the hope that He alone provides.

 

So, we show love of neighbor,

when we reach out to share the Gospel.

 

Jesus binds up wounds

and heals broken hearts.

 

And we are “Good Samaritans”

when we reach out with the Gospel to our neighbors.

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Now, Jesus also says we should

 

'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 that, too, is an active kind of love.

 

What does God want us to do,

to show that we love him?

 

1st John 5:3 says,

 

In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,

 

The New Living Translation puts it this way:

Loving God means keeping his commandments,

and his commandments are not burdensome.

 

And the Good News Translation renders it,

our love for God means that we obey his commands.

And his commands are not too hard for us,

 

 

So, just as with loving our neighbor,

loving God is more than just a warm, fuzzy feeling.

 

It also involves action.

 

Our Lord makes that clear in the 14th Chapter

of the Gospel of John.

 

Jesus tells us there

that loving him involves obeying him.

 

It’s important to understand this,

because there’s a common misunderstanding

in many churches today

that’s used to excuse people

who keep on practicing sin.

 

I’ve heard Christians say,

“They’re living in sin, but they love the Lord.”

 

You’ve probably heard it too:

“They’re living in sin, but they love the Lord.”

 

But, notice what Jesus says at John Chapter 14, Verse 15:

 

"If you love me, you will obey what I command.”

Jesus says,

"If you love me, you will obey what I command.”

 

So, what about the person

who disobeys Jesus

by continuing to practice sin,

but who says, “I love the Lord”?

 

Do they really love the Lord?

 

In John Chapter 14, Jesus makes the same point,

over and over again:

"If you love me, you will obey what I command.”

 

Then in Verse 21, he puts it this way:

 

21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them,

he is the one who loves me.

 

And then again, in Verse 23,

 

23 Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me,

he will obey my teaching.

 

And then, in case we haven’t yet

drawn the obvious conclusion

about those who persist

in sinful disobedience,

in Verse 24, Jesus draws that conclusion for us:

 

24 He who does not love me

will not obey my teaching.

 

So, claiming to have a warm and fuzzy feeling

of love for God—

that doesn’t cut it,

if we’re living in sinful disobedience to Him.

 

Loving God is unbreakably tied in with obeying God.

 

Jesus says,

15 "If you love me,

you will obey what I command.

 

21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them,

he is the one who loves me.

 

23 "If anyone loves me,

he will obey my teaching.”

 

24 “He who does not love me

will not obey my teaching.”

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We can learn more about loving God

from what happened next,

in our Responsive Reading

after Jesus gave that parable of the Good Samaritan.

 

The Gospel of Luke goes on to tell us, at Luke 10:38,

about Jesus’ visit to Mary and Martha.

 

And we find a lesson there

about listening to Jesus’ teaching.

 

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way,

he came to a village

where a woman named Martha

opened her home to him.

 

39 She had a sister called Mary,

who sat at the Lord's feet

listening to what he said.

 

40 But Martha was distracted

by all the preparations that had to be made.

 

She came to him and asked,

"Lord, don't you care that my sister

has left me to do the work by myself?

Tell her to help me!"

 

41 "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered,

"you are worried and upset about many things,

42 but only one thing is needed.

Mary has chosen what is better,

and it will not be taken away from her."

 

Well, what does that have to do with loving God?

 

It shows that God wants us to love him

by spending time with him.

 

Mary chose to spend time with Jesus,

sitting at his feet

and listening to what he said.

 

Martha had already completed

whatever really needed to be done,

and now she was busy

with all sorts of extra things,

and complaining that Mary wasn’t helping her.

 

Once the basics were done,

Martha could have sat at Jesus feet, too,

but she chose to continue busying herself instead.

 

Jesus said Mary chose what is better.

 

And Jesus wants us, today, too,

to sit at his feet and listen to him.

 

We do that at our Wednesday evening Bible study

when we read and study

the written Word of God.

 

We sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to him

at our Sunday morning service

when we hear the Word of God read and preached.

 

We do that when we sit down in a quiet spot

with the Bible in our hands

and a prayer in our heart

for God to speak to us through his Word.

 

One way that we show we love another person

is to spend time with them.

 

And that is true of our love for God.

 

We show that we love God,

when we spend time with him

in prayer,

and in listening to his voice through the Bible.

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So, our Lord Jesus teaches us

how to love our neighbor

and how to love God.

 

And, when we do that,

we do all that the Old Testament law covenant

called people to do.

 

But the best news of all

is that our salvation doesn’t depend on our getting it right.

 

Our salvation doesn’t depend on our perfectly loving God.

 

Rather, we are saved because God first loved us

even when we weren’t doing

what we are supposed to do.

 

Romans 5:8 says,

“God demonstrates his own love for us in this:

While we were still sinners,

Christ died for us.”

 

He died for us

when we were not obeying his teaching,

and now he patiently teaches us

how to love God

and love our neighbor.