“GO AND DO LIKEWISE”
Luke 10:25-42, Key Verse: 10:37b
“Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.’”
In the previous passage, Jesus sent 72 disciples to every town and place where he was about to go and gave them a prayer topic, asking God to send harvest workers because the harvest was plentiful but workers are few. The longer I have lived and shared the gospel in America, the more I have realized that there are so many people who would grow to be a disciple of Jesus but there are few disciple makers. In that sense, I thank God for using our ministry to raise harvest workers one by one. May God use DuPage UBF to raise 1,200 harvest workers for this nation to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Amen!
Today’s passage in essence teaches us how to heal and shepherd wounded people whom God sends on our way. This is the way to inherit eternal life, bringing the kingdom of God on earth. May the word of Christ challenge us to know who our neighbor is and how we can be a good neighbor. Amen!
How to Inherit Eternal Life (25-37).
Look at verse 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?”
At the time of Jesus there were three kinds of religious leaders; Sadducees, teachers of the law and Pharisees. Here is an expert in the law, who was austere and dignified above teachers of the law like Nicodemus among Pharisees. In today’s world, he was like a full professor in the Harvard Law School, who educates famous attorneys and politicians. In his pride in his knowledge and position, he came to test Jesus with a very controversial and hard theological question on eternal salvation; what must I do to inherit eternal life? Was he really interested in inheriting eternal life? Maybe not. He had a wrong motivation. He came to test Jesus, putting him on the spot.
How did Jesus answer to him? Look at verse 26, “‘What is written in the Law?’ he replied. ‘How do you read it?’” Jesus did not rebuke him for testing him but took this as an opportunity to teach. Instead of answering his question, Jesus asked him a question, testing him back. Jesus wanted him to find the answer in the Law of Moses. When we think about Jesus’ question, we are surprised that the answer to eternal salvation is in the Law. Let’s remember that Jesus also taught based on the Old Testament. He also obeyed the laws, not just written ones but the spirit of the Law. Jesus came not to abolish the Law but uphold it. He came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. In fact, Jesus’ law is higher than the written laws, examining our hearts so we may repent and preventing us from committing sin against God and against others.
How did the expert answer his own question? Look at 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.’” He already knew the answer based on the Old Testament; Dt 6:5 and Lev 19:18. He truly was the expert in the law, knowing the main theme of the Law. Loving God and loving our neighbor was the essence of all the laws and commandments, as Jesus also taught. The foundation of the relationship between God and his people was love even in the Old Testament. For example, in Exodus, God showed how much he loved Israel through delivering them from the bondage of Egypt and bringing them to the Promised Land with his mighty hand. He had done so many miracles while leading the people in the desert, leading them with a pillar of cloud during daytime and with fire during night time, and providing them manna and quail for 40 years in the wilderness even though they complained to God and his servant Moses. Love should be the essence of the relationship among God’s people.
Look at verse 28, “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” Jesus affirmed that he answered right. But the problem was not knowing it but practicing it. If he does it, he will live, but if you don’t do it, you may die. It does not mean physical but spiritual life. If he does it, he will live eternal life, that is spiritual liveness and life that is full.
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” His question revealed his sinful nature. He wanted to limit his neighbors to as small a group as possible, with the maximum number of other well-to-do teachers of the law. In this way, he wanted to limit his responsibility, justifying that he was loving them by sharing his knowledge in the Law, which he had done in his lifetime.
Now Jesus is teaching who his neighbor is and how to love them. Look at verse 30. A man, who was probably an Israelite, was going from Jerusalem to Jericho. At that time, there were many robbers on the mountains between the cities where not many people were present. When the man met a robber, he tried to run away and tried to keep what he had, but the robber took everything and left him half dead. Here Jesus is defining who the expert in the law’s neighbor is. His neighbor is not teachers of the law but the man who was attacked by a robber. This means his neighbor is the helpless and needy people whom God sent on his way.
Let us also ask ourselves, “Who is my neighbor?” There are many robbers who attack people. Recently, two teenagers robbed the car of a Vietnam veteran. Some say that politicians are robbers without a gun in today’s society. There are also spiritual robbers who are the devils. They came to attack and destroy people, leaving them a half dead, alive but without true life in them. The devil attacked them saying that death is the end of everything, so do whatever you feel like doing, making them do illegal drugs or live according to sinful pleasures. Their comfort, pleasure and self-serving is the most important thing in the world. Self-gratification was the ultimate goal of their life, saying that everyone is living that way anyway. But the problem is that they are miserable, being a slave of sin and half dead.
These wounded people need a neighbor who will help with the love of God. Look at verses 31-35. In this parable, Jesus brought two religious men, a priest and a Levite. A priest is a descendant of Aaron, who is chosen to serve in the temple of God, conducting the ceremonies, praying for the people of Israel and reconciling them to God through the paschal lamb. Most Levites are also serving in the temple, helping the priest. Therefore, both of them are very religious people, knowing the laws and regulations. But when they saw the wounded Israelite on their way, they passed by on the other side. Presumably the priest made an excuse, saying, I have to perform the ceremony in the temple, so I cannot make myself unclean by touching the blood. The Levite also made another excuse that he was too busy to take care of the wounded man. They knew the law of God that they should love God and love your neighbor, but their title and knowledge went out the window in a real-life situation.
But when a Samaritan saw the wounded Israelite, he did not pass by on the other side, even though there was historical and racial barrier. It seems that he was busy for his business appointment, but he stopped and took care of him immediately, pouring on oil and wine and bandaging his wounds. Moreover, he made a long-term care plan until he was fully recovered, paying two denarii, two days’ wages, to an innkeeper to care for him and promising to pay future expenses because he had to leave for his business now. The Samaritan did not know the law of God as much as the priest and the Levite, but he had mercy on the wounded man and helped him to recover fully.
Jesus asked the expert in the law a final question. Look at verse 36. “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” Jesus’ parable was like a check mate, leaving him without any excuse. Amazingly he did not harden his heart. He did not go away sad, but answered with honesty. Look at verse 37, “The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.’” Though he did not want to even say “the Samaritan who had mercy on him,” he came to know who his neighbor is and how he should love them. He cannot be selective, but his neighbor is those wounded whom God sent on his way. Yet it is still easy to answer but hard to do. Jesus encouraged him to go and do like the good Samaritan man. It should convict the expert in the law and help him how to be a good neighbor. By practicing the mercy of God, the expert in the law can inherit eternal life, bringing the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.
Through this parable, we also learn who is our neighbor and how we should love them. My neighbor is those who wounded and left half-dead by the robbers. We may have a lot of reasons to pass by on the other side. We are born selfish and thus have limited mercy. We want to be nice to those who are nice. We want to be merciful on those who have shown mercy to us. We may be able to overcome our human limitations when we remember what Jesus has done for us—how he was merciful to us. We were half-dead because of our sins, but Jesus not only bandaged our wounds but also gave his whole life for us to be recovered and made our lives full of God’s love and the hope of eternal life. We cannot be selective. If God was selective, he would not choose Gideon, a horrible sinner, to be saved. It is God’s one-sided mercy that I am forgiven and can inherit eternal life. We love God because Christ loved us first. We care for others because Christ cared for us while we were sinners. Therefore, with the love and mercy of Christ, we may be able to take care of those wounded people whom God sends on our way. We should help them with a short-term and long-term plan until they are fully recovered and become a harvest worker. When we do so, we will experience eternal life, bringing the kingdom of God on earth, as Jesus told us to pray.
Which One is Better (38-42).
Look at verse 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.”
Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. He and his disciples went to Bethany, which is located about 10 miles away from Jerusalem and was where Martha’s home was. Martha opened her home to Jesus and his disciples, most likely more than 12 because Jesus sent 70 plus disciples who came back with a victorious report. Martha had one sister called Mary and one brother Lazarus. While Martha was preparing everything for the guests, Mary was sitting down at Jesus’ feet and listening to his words. Probably, there were other women who were helping Martha cooking and serving. But when Martha saw her sister Mary, she was mad at her who left her, just sitting down to listen to Jesus. She had an attitude toward Jesus and asked him to tell Mary to help her preparing a lot of things for the guests.
It seems her request is very reasonable, and Jesus should have told Mary as Martha said. But Jesus’ answer was different from us. Look at verse 41, “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Jesus did not say what Martha was doing was not important. But her problem was she was worrying about many things: how much food she had to make and how many things she wants to prepare. Then, she was upset that her sister was not helping her to fulfill all she wanted to do. But Jesus and his disciples did not mind eating just a few things. She did not need to make all kinds of food but just rice and kimchi will be sufficient or pizza only.
But Mary chose better, listening to the word of God more than working.
Martha could have served Jesus and his disciples with joy and strength from above. Then, she would have no problem at all, but in her busy body and mind, she lost the point of having Jesus. It is to listen to his teaching. Which one is more important between listening to the word of God and working for Christ? Which is more important between sacrifice or obedience? Yes, both of them are important, but there is a priority. It is listening to the word of Jesus and obeying the word of God. Of course, if we just listen and do not do anything, that is not good either and we become like the expert in the law. But without listening to the word of Jesus carefully, we may do wrong and serve with our own righteousness. May God help us to choose to listen to the word of God first and do what is right before God.
Through today’s passage, we learned who our neighbor is and how to love our neighbor practically. Our neighbor is the wounded people whom God sends on our way. As we remember how God has been merciful to us, we may be able to help them to be healed with a short and long-term plan. If you cannot, ask someone to help. Love God, then listen to him first and receive his mercy so that we have enough strength to care for those who are half dead. In that way, we will experience eternal life and bring kingdom of God on earth, as Jesus taught us to pray. Amen!