Sermon for July 10th 2016 St Timothyâ€™s Church, Burnaby, BC
The Good Samaritan
Everyone of you has heard the Story of the Good Samaritan that was read as the Gospel just now. It is one of the most familiar stories in the Bible.
But nevertheless, lets check out some of the details.
Jesus told that story to the lawyer who asked, â€śJust who is my neighbour?
That was a question that was important to any Jew of the day. The answer a Rabbi would have given is that your neighbour is any Jew who is in trouble. Not a Gentile, Not a sinner, Not coloured or black, Not a Roman soldier, Not an escaped criminal, Definitely not a Samaritan --- only another Jew.
So Jesus answers the lawyer by telling the story ---- and the Hero of the story is not a Jew --- in fact the Hero is a person whom Jews hate and despise --- worse than any Gentile.
Why? Samaritans followed the Old Testament, and tried to keep the Law. They honoured the same Rules, the same Prophets, and had synagogues just like the Jews. Why the problem?
Because Samaritans had their own Temple in Samaria, and abstained from the Temple in Jerusalem. To explain it from the Jewish point of view --- Samaritans were Jewish Heretics --- the worst of the worst. To make a Samaritan the Hero of the Story is like making Donald Trump a Mexican Saint. It is not what one would expect.
Yet that is what Jesus said. He was very clear. The Hero of the Story is a person who cared for the person in need. In other words, a neighbour is anyone in need.
Let me share that point on 3 different levels.
1st Level: In the story, the man heading from Jerusalem to Jericho, was travelling a dangerous highway, all by himself. It was a stupid thing to do. Travelling alone on that highway was leaving himself open to robbery and worse, one could say that he brought his troubles on himself --- yet he needed help and the Samaritan helped him. Anyone in need of help, regardless of race, sex, age, or religion, even if it was their fault they were hurt, anyone in need of help is our neighbour.
Story of my neighbour : unhappy, complaining, quick to point out problems. Answer: forgive them ask them to our barbecue,
Syrian Refugees: we hear on the TV and radio everyday about refugees, struggling to flee from one country to find security and peace in another. Europe has been invaded by well over a million refugees. Here in Canada with have taken in over 25 thousand. They speak differently, have a different religion, a different culture, different ideas --- theyâ€™re not a people we might choose --- but they are people in need --- and thus they are our neighbours. We cannot turn our backs on them. We have to love and care for them, just as we would want others to love and care for us.
Of course, our help must be practical and available. Note that the Priest and the Levite looked at the injured man --- sure, they probably felt sorry for him, but they did nothing practical. Compassion and care, to be real, needs to issue in practical actions of help.
2nd Level: My neighbour is anyone I meet. That person is loved by Jesus, just as you and I are. My neighbour is absolutely anyone else, not just on my street, not just in my country, but anyone in the world. We all are neighbours, and Jesus calls us to love everyone of them --- including the unloveables, That means the killers in ISIS are my neighbours. That means the drug dealer down the street is my neighbour. That means the muslim who regards you with suspicion, the storekeeper who tries to rip you off financially, and the tax collector who demands your money. There are no exceptions. We donâ€™t have to like them, but we have to love
them. They are our neighbours.
Oh I wish there were exceptions. I can think of lots of people that I am not prepared to like --- Donald Trump for example; the ISIS killers; those who sell drugs to children; you can think of more. But Jesus calls us to Love them, meaning we need to care for them, and desire the best for them. We may not like them, but we have to love them. Now do you know how far each of us is from following the commandment of Christ. Love your neighbour, he tells us, no matter how difficult that is.
3rd Level: When I am annoyed with a person (and that does happen) I am reminded that Jesus loves Him. If Jesus loves him, and Jesus loves me, then I have to act as a brother to him or her. How can I despise or hate a person who is loved by Jesus.
You see, if that person is walking with Christ, knows Him as Saviour and Lord, it means I am going to have to spend ETERNITY with him. Better start loving him now. In fact, I had better change my life so that Love becomes the driving force every day.
For if God is Loving, everything that God does is done out of Love. And that should be true also of me.
For all of this, I have only one conclusion:
Where there is love, there is God.