Connected – Week 6 – Strangers Matter
25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
What is Jesus saying in this text? What point was Jesus trying to get across to this man?
Well, the man’s question was, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” This man new the Law, the Old Testament Scriptures, so Jesus answered his question with a question and asked, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” The lawyer, who knew the law well, of course answered correctly. He said what we’ve been studying these two whole months: Love God, love others. Love God with my everything and love my neighbor as myself. Jesus said, well, yeah…that’s right. Do this and you will live.
Before the guy asked Jesus the question, he already knew the answer. He nailed the answer, spot on. So, why did the man ask another question in order to justify himself? If he knew the law, knew how to inherit eternal life…why was there need to ask, in order to justify himself, well, who is my neighbor?
What we see in this, before we ever get to the story of the Good Samaritan, is the most important part of this passage. And, honestly, it is almost always overlooked when people read, study, or preach this passage.
The initial question was “How can I have eternal life?” And, Jesus answers. Follow the Law. But here’s the thing…We can’t perfectly obey the law. We don’t. Jesus sent the man back to the law, not because the law saves us but because the law shows us that we need to be saved.
Galatians 2:16 – yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
Galatians 2:21 – I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
Galatians 3:21 – Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.
There is no real conversion without conviction, and the law is what God uses to convict sinners.
Romans 3:20 – For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
That’s the whole reason this guy asked the next question about who my neighbor is…he wanted to justify himself. He wanted to be right, but he knew that he doesn’t love his neighbor as himself – he knew he doesn’t live up to the law. He may love God with his everything, but when it came to some people…he knew he didn’t have it.
So, if his eternal life hung in the balance, because he can’t love all people, he wanted to find a way around it…“Well, who’s my neighbor then?”
Here’s the main point of the text…before we ever get to the Good Samaritan: You cannot get to Heaven…You cannot get to Heaven on your own…Because you cannot fully obey all of the Law.
If you want to get to Heaven, it is only through the One person who fully obeyed the Law. He not only obeyed the Law, but He fulfilled its requirements. There is no forgiveness of sins without the shedding of blood – Hebrews 9:22. Jesus lived a perfect life and died a sacrificial death so that you can go to heaven if you put your trust in Him. That is the main point of this story. That is the main thing you must hear. Because no matter how well you love God or love your neighbor, you will fail, and you will not be good enough for Heaven, but Jesus is, and He took your punishment so that you can go to Heaven. So, that’s the first point Jesus is making. But, He answers the man’s second question too, by telling a story.
The point of this story is not who my neighbor is. The point is that I be a good neighbor.
Two men passed by – one a priest and one a Levite. These guys knew the law…they knew the Scriptures…they were holy men. Neither of them helped the man in need. The Samaritan, a despised enemy, didn’t just check on the man…he went out of his way to help.
What are some big rivalries sports wise? [Give a few examples that are happening right now]
A Samaritan was like the person on the other team that you have this sacred hatred for but really you’re no better than them and them than you.
We see two men of God pass up a God opportunity. When we see these two men in this story, I want us to see ourselves. People who go to church. People who try to live for God. People who read His Word. People who worship. These two people were given an awesome opportunity to show the love of God. You’re not only given an opportunity, you’re given a responsibility. If not you, who will reach them? Somebody? Maybe nobody? What if you were the one who was supposed to do it? Is their blood on your hands? The responsibility is yours. God’s glory is on the line and people’s souls are on the line
What is a stranger? Someone you don’t know.
There are no strangers to God.
God knows them, and God wants to save them. God wants them to have eternal life with Him. So, God sends you. God puts them in your path.
We’ve been looking this whole time at who is my neighbor and how I should act towards them. Really, it is fitting for us to end this series how Jesus ended this story.
It doesn’t matter who our neighbor is. What matters is that we are good neighbors.
The relationships you build in this place and in your classrooms matter for eternity. The question Jesus is answering with all of this is about eternal life. People’s souls are at stake through our relationships. God not only gives us opportunities, but He gives us a responsibility.
You’re no different than anyone else just because you go to a different school or grew up in a different family, kind of like the Samaritan. God knows them all and loves them all, and we are all the same under the blood of Jesus, and all of us need to be under the blood of Jesus.
What hurts me as a pastor is to see you here for fun, friends, and entertainment and forgetting the whole purpose of the fun, friends, and entertainment…it’s to bring strangers to feel welcomed. Then they come and you don’t acknowledge them. And if you acknowledge them, it’s a “hey, ok bye.”
I don’t see the Samaritan…the true neighbor in Jesus’ story doing this. I see him not only see if the guy is ok…I see him help heal the guy’s wound…I see him put the guy on his animal and walk him into town…I see him go out of this way to put him in a hotel to get better and stay the night with him…I see him give two days wages and offer even more if needed to provide for the guy…I don’t see a man who just said, “hey are you ok? bye.” I see a man go out of his way for an enemy…for a stranger. I see a guy who doesn’t see social class, or looks, or school, or age, or commonalities in sports or gaming or cheerleading or studies. I see a guy who sees a stranger as God sees them. Someone created in God’s image who needs a friend…who needs some help…who needs to be shown the compassion that God has for them. That is a neighbor. That is loving God and loving others.
Knowing this, in a crowd of this size, it should pain your heart that you don’t know someone’s name. That you haven’t gotten to know that person. That you haven’t invited that person to hang out with you outside of church. That you haven’t tried to make friends with that person because you go to a different school.
The guy asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor.” Jesus answered…it doesn’t matter. You go be a good neighbor. If you think about it, why shouldn’t we? When we were strangers of God…when we didn’t know God, God sought us out…He pursued us…He gave His life for us…He was patient when we didn’t believe…He knocked and knocked and knocked…until finally we opened the door.
Revelation 3:20 – Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
One line from the song “Come thou Fount” sums it up best: “Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God. He, to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood.”