Friday, 5 February, 2021
Title: Go, Do Likewise
by: Ps Cheng Cheung
Luke 10: 33 “But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.”
We are all familiar with the parable of The Good Samaritan but many are unaware of the context. Two key verses are verses 25 and 29.
25 ” And behold, a certain legal expert stood up to test him, saying, “Teacher, what must I do so that I will inherit eternal life?”
29 ” But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?”
This person is “an expert in the law”, that is, Jewish religious law. He was a theologian, and represents the religious establishment. Was this the question of a sincere seeker? His intention is doubtful, but the question is crucial. ”Teacher, what must I do so that I will inherit eternal life?”
This man believes eternal life is obtained by doing a number of good deeds and compliance with the law. Salvation comes by human works. When the Lord turns the man’s question back to him, he answers by quoting from the Old Testament.
Deuteronomy 6: 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
Leviticus 19: 18 ..you shall love your neighbour as yourself..
Although Jesus commends his answer, he is not satisfied. Wanting to justify himself, or possibly, to see if Jesus would give him a list of rules or Do’s and Don’ts which he could measure himself against, he probes further “And who is my neighbour?”
Undoubtedly he felt the weight of the commands Love God, love your neighbour as yourself ; these were foreign to his nature as an expert in the law. Written codes and a simple set of rules like “Do not steal, do not covet, honour the Sabbath” were easier to navigate than loving one’s neighbour. If he had been honest and humble, he would have said ”I have a problem. I don’t know how to love God. Or love my neighbour as myself. I tried, but I failed. Help me”
Instead, he again asks defensively, ”(So) who is my neighbour, (who)??” at which point the Lord tells the parable of the good Samaritan.
We know the story well. Two men, a priest and then a Levite, saw the unfortunate victim (most certainly a Jew) of a mugging, and passed by on the other side. Why didn’t they do anything, in spite of the fact both could surmise he was near death?
For the priest, contamination would have been a hassle if the man died. The cleansing ritual would be costly and time consuming. Involvement would require a return to Jerusalem from whence he had come and the interruption of his plans. Inconvenience. Unforeseen complications. Besides, he’s a priest, not a paramedic.
For the Levite, a religious figure, his response is similar. Perhaps he feared for his own safety, that it was actually a trap or he foresaw entanglement.
Do not think these are “bad men”. They were ordinary men, like you and I. Like them, we all have our responsibilities, our duties and such situations intrude on our privacy, right? We all have our agenda pretty well mapped out day-in, day-out. We cannot afford interruptions. I͟t͟’s͟ s͟o͟ e͟a͟s͟y͟ t͟o͟ r͟a͟t͟i͟o͟n͟a͟l͟i͟z͟e͟ a͟w͟a͟y͟ e͟v͟e͟r͟y͟t͟h͟i͟n͟g͟.
We do not need to study the rest of the parable. The thing which set the Samaritan apart from the priest and Levite was his compassion. He saw the same thing the other two saw. But he felt compassion and pity for the man which the other two did not. Lack of compassion is a symptom of a deeper lack. Our (un)willingness to become involved in the needs of others is evidence of the reality of the love (or lack of love) of God in our lives. This was the wall the expert in the law could not bring himself to scale and climb over. He was stuck as long as he would not admit he needed help. H͟o͟w͟ a͟b͟o͟u͟t͟ y͟o͟u͟?
Remember the PBC sermon on social action we heard on 31 January? The main thing which struck me then was the call to o͟p͟e͟n͟ o͟u͟r͟ e͟y͟e͟s͟ to see what’s around us which we can help fix. We need to ask God to move us and convict us of the area where we naturally have a leaning towards, either corporately or individually. This is important, because in a world where compassion fatigue has reached epidemic proportions, we must recognise, in the interest of long-term sustainability, we cannot be everything to everyone or every cause. We can, though, be something to some one or some cause. So, we may then be the neighbour to the one who is beset by misfortune.
Gracious God, fill me with God’s love again. Help me turn from my selfish ways. I have become comfortable in my routine and I justify staying in that routine with flimsy reasons.
Show me who is my neighbour in dire need at this time, that I might be a genuine friend to him. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
相反，他再次以防御的口吻问： “（那么）谁是我的邻舍？（是谁）？？” 这时，主耶稣正好在讲好撒马利亚人的比喻。