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May 13, 2017, 8:57 AM

THE GOOD SAMARITAN


THE GOOD SAMARITAN

 

 

 

It's interesting how the Lord leads us when we pray and ask Him for certain things. One of the things I've learned over the many years (after all, poster advertisements for our meetings at an African church in the Dallas area years ago said that I "was one of the oldest living apostles") is that the Lord will always answer you if you "Pray Like You Mean It." And that's the title of a new book Evie and I have been working on for a few months.

But if you’ve been in ministry very long—and all Christians are in ministry—you will learn that most Christians want to pray one short, sweet prayer and then leave it with Jesus. We tend to be lazy when it comes to prayer even when it’s important. A contact on our emails from Nigeria this morning is a good example of a request we get daily—somebody writing and saying, “I need to meet with Rev. Timmons.” Well, who says that you do? And who says that it’s all about YOU? Now don’t get mad at me but, excuse me, I believe it’s all about Jesus and His needs. And if you don’t believe that—if you believe it’s all about you then perhaps you have not really made Jesus the Lord of your life.

It’s an unfortunate thing that so many pastors and ministers have given their congregations the idea that Jesus is in Heaven dressed in the uniform of a glorified bellhop from a luxury 5 star hotel who is only there to meet their every need. I still have a picture in my office at home that I put in the ministry office when the Lord first moved us to Montana. It’s the picture of a bald eagle flying low over the waters of a wide river in the mountains much like we see every single day in Montana. I put a caption under the picture that reads: “Must Jesus Fish Alone?”

If He’s the Lord of your life then He won’t be fishing alone but if He’s only your Savior and not your Lord then you probably don’t think too much about what His needs and wants are and how you can help Him. Now I’m not saying you won’t go to Heaven when you die, you will if Jesus is genuinely your savior but that doesn’t mean He’s your Lord or that His priorities are yours.

But today might be a good day for you to change that and reorder your priorities. For many months now I’ve been asking the Lord to teach me about His mercy. And I’m not going to go into a deep discussion of what mercy is because like many words in the KJV of the Bible its meaning has changed. But both the Greek and Hebrew  words translated mercy are covenant terms. I wrote about it in a chapter in The High Calling of God. Most Christians have never studied covenant just like they’ve never studied Church history so their education is incomplete where the Scriptures are concerned.

In 1980 the Lord began to teach me about His love and how we need that in the Church today. We use the word Christian a lot and I use it as well but the word only appears 3 times in the New Testament whereas the word disciple appears many times and we see that Jesus Himself teaches us the meaning of the word disciple. And if we are a true disciple, not only will we spend much time reading the Word but we will obey the commandment of the Lord given in John to “love one another as I have loved you.” Frankly, there’s not much love in most churches today. People have compartmentalized their lives and their “religious” component that they enter on Sundays and maybe Wednesday night causes most churches to not be much different than the world in the area of love because we see that even in church most if not all of our relationships are superficial. We don’t love each other like we should, wouldn’t you agree? And we certainly do not love one another like Jesus “loved us.”

Another key study that I’ve been involved in for decades in addition to agape is grace. Like the love of Jesus and the Father, their grace is another concept that is just too deep for us to understand yet we must try because we are being conformed into the image of the Lord Jesus by the Holy Spirit if we will allow Him to do so.

But I don’t feel led to discuss grace today but rather what I’ve been really focusing and praying about for a couple of months now—the mercy of the Lord Jesus. That brings us to today’s lesson that the Lord led me to at 4:30 this morning when I was awake praying. There is only one recording in the gospels of a parable all Christians know and most of the world knows as well—at least they know the title but, of course, they cannot know the truth it teaches without the Spirit which they cannot have without being born again.

Now the setting for this parable is interesting because it’s one of those situations where a person familiar with the Scriptures rises up while Jesus is teaching and the Word records his purpose—to tempt Jesus. This is a familiar theme throughout the gospels from the religious leaders—sometimes referred to as “the Jews” who were made up of two sects—the Pharisees and Sadducees—along with lawyers. The man here in Luke 10, our setting for the parable of the Good Samaritan, is identified as a “lawyer.” Now scribes such as Ezra were responsible for writing the Scriptures but lawyers were responsible for studying, interpreting and understanding the Scriptures—they weren’t like lawyers today who deal with civil law but the term “law” refers to the Torah.

But now don’t forget this part because it’s one of the great things about the Bible—and one of the proofs that it is inspired  because the Word—“is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). And that’s a fact we see throughout the Scriptures that is never mentioned by pundits who believe the Bible is no different than the Quran. Only in the Bible do we find people’s names given hundreds of years before they were born and also recording what people were thinking as well as their motives like we see with this lawyer who is testing Jesus here in Luke 10.

Now he stands up to tempt or test Jesus by asking a question—“Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus obviously knows this man is a lawyer so He throws it back to him by responding—because if the man’s a lawyer he should know the answer—“What is written in the law? How readest thou?”

The lawyer responds, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” (10:27)

Notice that Jesus then says to him: “Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.” So this lawyer got it right, didn’t he? End of story—this is how a person receives eternal life. Not quite. The lawyer wasn’t finished so neither was Jesus because He’s not just the Word of Life but also a Rabbi (teacher) so if you want to be taught and have an open heart he will teach you. Now this is the main Five-fold anointing on my life so I know something about it but I’ve observed the same thing Jesus did in the gospels—most people, not all but most, don’t want to be taught. Often they have a religious spirit and are unteachable. So the lawyer the Word says, wanted “to justify himself” before Jesus so he asks one more question—“And who is my neighbor?”

Now to me this implies, although Jesus didn’t quiz him on it, that this lawyer was indicating that he was obeying the first part of this “love” commandment. At least in his own eyes he was loving the Lord God with all his being as the Law prescribed but he was having a problem with who his neighbor was.

This question of course leads to Jesus’ parable that has a teaching point to it and in this case it explains the answer to this lawyer’s question of who his (or ours as well) neighbor was. After all if the Scriptures command us to “love our neigbour as ourselves” then we need to know what the Lord means by the word, neighbor. Now we are taught and all bibles will say, “The Parable of the Good Samaritan” but I’m not sure it was a parable; in fact I’m pretty sure it wasn’t! It was a real incident that Jesus had knowledge of but if it weren’t real Jesus would not have used the words, “A certain man went down from Jerusalem …” (italics added for emphasis).

And Jesus uses 4 men in the teaching—the man who was beaten and left for dead, a priest, a Levite and a Samaritan. Basically, in today’s Christian vernacular, we might liken the priest and Levite to a pastor and elder—both reacted in the same way to the beaten man lying naked on the road—they “passed by on the other side.” In other words, they didn’t want to get involved—they were probably like the Blues Brothers—“on a mission from God.”

Now you can’t read the New Testament and not learn that the Samaritans were hated by the Jews but you might not be familiar with why this was so. Samaritans were basically half breeds who had intermarried among the Jews over the decades since they were settled in the area by the nations that conquered Israel. It is a tactic to pollute a culture and eventually destroy it—a tactic to assimilate the local population by the conquering nation. So they were hated. A good example of this today that comes to my mind is in the Republic of South Africa that Pastor Andrew just returned from and where Ev and I have preached.

In South Africa they have a group of people referred to as “colored.” In South Africa you have the largest concentration of Indian people outside the nation of India settled mostly along the coast close to Durban. Colored people here refer to those who are black and Indian who intermarry. And there is much genuine hatred of them—Ev and I observed it on several occasions in the city stores. This is the closest thing today I can think of that would describe the word “Samaritan” for a Jewish person of Jesus’ day.

So Jesus indicates that this Samaritan who was probably not even in covenant with God was the only one of the three who didn’t just leave the man there but actually had compassion on him and mercy, even spending his own money to take care of him. Then Jesus asks His own question:

“Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among thieves?” (10:36)

And they saw the difference immediately, didn’t they, because the Lawyer responds, “He that showed mercy on him.”

But Jesus didn’t leave it there, did He? He did not respond the same way He did initially with, “Thou hast answered right.” No, Jesus says, “Go, and do thou likewise.” That means we, too, are supposed to demonstrate we love our “neighbor” by showing mercy and compassion on those the Lord places in our path each day to be our neighbor. And when He does then we have to “do” something about it.

My prayer today is that you will catch a glimpse of the Lord’s mercy from this teaching and “go and do likewise.”

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