WHATEVER YOU DO, WHETHER IN WORD OR DEED, DO IT ALL IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS, GIVING THANKS TO GOD THE FATHER THROUGH HIM. (Colossians 3: 17)
Welcome to our web-worship!
I GAVE THEM MY DECREES (says the Lord) AND MADE KNOWN TO THEM MY LAWS, FOR THE MAN WHO OBEYS THEM WILL LIVE BY THEM. (Ezekiel 20: 11)
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?” …”AND WHO IS MY NEIGHBOUR?” … “WHICH OF THESE THREE DO YOU THINK WAS THE NEIGHBOUR TO THE MAN WHO FELL INTO THE HANDS OF ROBBERS?” THE EXPERT IN THE LAW REPLIED, “THE ONE WHO HAD MERCY ON HIM”. JESUS TOLD HIM, “GO AND DO LIKEWISE.” (Luke 10: 25 – 31)
In response to a lawyer’s question, Jesus told a parable about a man who travelled from Jerusalem down the Jericho Road and was attacked by robbers and left bleeding and dying. Along the road came a priest and a Levite. They passed on the other side. The Good SAMARITAN, came along and gave the man assistance. This story describes at least three attitudes toward life and God’s Law.
- – “I’ll take from others.” This is the attitude of the robber. The road from Jerusalem to Jericho descends thirty-five hundred feet in its twenty-two miles through rough terrain, locally called “The Valley of the Shadow of Death” (see: Psalm 23: 4.). Robbers would often hide behind rocks and in gorges along the way and attacked travellers. We all know the robbers of life. They declare in veiled ways, “I will take whatever I want from you. It doesn’t matter to me how it affects you or how it hurts you.” You are simply a means to an end for them. They manipulate, abuse, and use people; cheat, steal, lie or kill. This is a philosophy we see so often in life and in the news. In the parable, the robbers beat the man and left him to die. Many of those who inflict pain are unconcerned about the outcome of their actions.
- – “I will ignore others.” This is seen in the response of the priest and the Levite. The priest worked at his official priestly duties in the Temple at Jerusalem (records show that the requirement was only two weeks a year). He represents the noble citizens, the good folk in society, churchgoing people and the preachers. He probably told the man who was lying wounded, how sorry he was that this happened to him. He had noble feeling and good thoughts toward this man but was too busy with his own needs, his safety, his family. He was concerned, but he didn’t do anything. He simply ignored him. The Levite was a holy person by heredity. He thought that religion is all about pious worship and sacrifices, and Levites had so much to do at the Temple, that self- importance stop him from helping. The easiest solution to avoid any unwanted involvement was to turn his head away and pass by on the other side. Accidental ignorance.
- – “I’ll help others.” Jesus set a very unlikely hero before his listeners. A Samaritan! This was a despised person to the Jewish mind. The attitude of hatred towards Samaritans had existed for more than 450 years. They were considered half-breeds, a defiled people. Seeing a man in need, the Samaritan took pity on him. He didn’t know if the man was really hurt or if he had some kind of disease that he might catch (Covid-19, for instance !?). Simply he went to him and bandaged his wounds… put the man on his donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The Samaritan also made personal sacrifices to assist the wounded man. He sacrificed his time, spent some money on him, changed his schedule, and took the risk of being misunderstood by his Jewish neighbours.
Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? – Jesus asked the expert in the law and… implicitly me and… even you. The one who had mercy on him, – comes the obvious answer. GO AND DO LIKEWISE, – said Jesus.
To ask the question, – “Who is my neighbour?” is the wrong question. It attempts to set limits. We are not to restrict who our neighbour is. To know our neighbour is not a concern for an area but with a spirit. We are neighbours to persons of all races, creeds, skin colours, ranks, geographical areas, or educational levels. God expects us to reach out to all human beings with love, help, kindness and compassion. The GOOD SAMARITAN is symbolic of Jesus Christ and His ministry. Jesus spent His ministry reaching out to people in need – to the blind, the deaf, the crippled, the lepers, the outcast, and to the lost. He reached out with compassion to all people in their time of need.
The Jericho Road passes our doors every day, even more so as we move “from brightest days to darkest times,- the way how somebody recently characterized this Coronavirus Age, we are facing. We encounter the hurting, the lonely, the grieving, the needy of every kind that walk by every day. They reach out to us for help. Do we see them? Do we hear them? –Who is my neighbour? That is not the right question. The right question is: – To whom am I neighbour?
Anyone, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins. (The Epistle of James 4: 17)
LET US PRAY:
Living and loving God, reach out to all for whom the future seems uncertain or unwelcome, and bring the assurance that even in the darkest moments, the most worrying of times, You are there working out Your purpose; able to bring light out of darkness, hope out of despair, joy out of sorrow, and good out of evil. You came to our world through Christ to help, to heal, and to save. We pray for the sick and suffering, the poor and hungry, the oppressed and exploited, the lonely and unloved, the aged and infirm, the frightened and anxious, the sorrowful and the bereaved, the helpless and the hopeless. Reach out to them in Your love. Living and loving God, as we turn from brightest days to darkest times because of this Pandemic, there is so much need around us, in our neighbourhood, our town, our country, our world – so many people crying out for help. Show us where and how we can respond. Give us the means, the will, the commitment and the love to reach out where we can, how we can and when we can; offering in the name of Christ something of ourselves to others, even as He offered His all for us. Reach out to us all in Your love, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
THE LORD’S PRAYER: – Our Father, who art in heaven…
TO THE ONLY GOD OUR SAVIOUR BE GLORY, MAJESTY, POWER AND AUTHORITY, THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD, BEFORE ALL AGES, NOW AND FOREVERMORE! AMEN.
(Jude, verse 25.)