February 10, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Luke 10)

Submitted by Jonathan W. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Luke 10:30-37

  • What reasons might the priest and the Levite have cited for their avoidance?

There are many possible reasons the priest and the Levite might have cited for their avoidance, all of which would have seemed sensible and justified to them. Being part of the religious establishment, they may thought they were doing the pious thing by not defiling themselves by touching or even going near something that could make them unclean. Perhaps they were running late to some engagement, or had to take care of some urgent or important business such that they didn’t feel they had the time to spare. They might have simply assumed he was already dead, or so close to it that any attempt at rescue would have been futile. They might have thought to themselves that they weren’t the right or best person to take care of this problem – after all, they’re clergy, not doctors – and so someone better qualified should help the man. Given that the highway was a dangerous place fraught with bandits, they may have wanted to avoid running into some kind of trap. It would be mistaken to pigeon-hole the priest and Levite and simply dismiss them as cruel and uncaring people – on the contrary, they would be people who genuinely wanted the best for others. Instead, this part of the parable shows how well-meaning and well-intentioned people can still allow reasonable-sounding excuses prevent them from actually doing the right thing.

  • According to this parable, what is Jesus’ answer to the question “Who is my neighbor”?

According to this parable, Jesus’ answer to the question “Who is my neighbor?” is anyone around me who is in need, to whom I can show mercy and compassion in some way. Clearly, it is not a matter of ethnic, cultural, or socioeconomic similarity, how much I have in common with the person, how much we get along, or how much that person can benefit me in return. Jesus turns the usual criteria which people use to determine friendship completely on its head – instead, if there is any way I can be a blessing to someone else, then he/she is my neighbor. This means that in essence, everyone is my neighbor, because there will always be a way I can show someone love – if I feel like I can’t, it most likely means I haven’t looked hard enough to find a need or way to show compassion. Practically speaking then, my neighbors include the co-worker who recently went through surgery, the student going through family problems at home, the couple down the block who just had their first child, and many others around me.

  • In what ways does sin rob, strip and beat people?

A well-known maxim states, sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay. Sin is the ultimate destroyer of people’s lives. It takes away our dignity, as we pursue lesser things of life based on our base desires rather than aligning with God’s plan for our lives. I think about the flirtatious young woman who believes that getting into a romantic relationship is her greatest need, the ambitious businessman who pursues significance in power and security in money at the expense of family and meaningful relationships, as well as the immature “kidult” who just wants to have fun, be comfortable, and avoid pain/struggle at any cost. Sin leaves us scarred, as the ways we are hurt by our own and others’ sins leave lasting negative memories and emotions. I think about the sharp, biting words I have used to lash out at other people, as well as being on the receiving end of hurtful words and actions. Finally, sin ruins our relationships with God and others, as our pride and greed keeps us from giving and receiving the unconditional love that every one of us desires.

  • In what ways was Jesus like this Good Samaritan for me?

Jesus has been like this Good Samaritan for me by having compassion when I was in the midst hitting rock-bottom. As I started facing the consequences of my sins, I easily saw that my sin had ravaged my life, as I was filled with hurt, guilt, and a desire for the earth to swallow me whole. Nothing else in the world could offer genuine healing – media, school, even well-meaning secular friends could only provide temporary distractions and escapism. I began to feel hopeless, that nothing could ever be done to undo the mess I had made of my life. Yet Jesus alone offered a solution: forgiveness and unconditional love. Like the Good Samaritan in the parable, He had pity on me rather than simply leaving me to my own devices. He tended to and bandaged the wounds I had accumulated, and brought me to the “inn,” a haven where I could recover. As I think about what Christ has done for me, I am filled with gratitude, that He would rescue someone so proud and rebellious into a transformed life filled with purpose and joy. The song by Hillsong United, “You Rescued Me” captures this well:

You rescued me and picked me up
A living hope of grace revealed
A life transformed in righteousness
O Lord You have rescued me
Forgiving me, You healed my heart
And set me free from sin and death
You brought me life You’ve made me whole
O Lord You have rescued me

  • In what ways is the “inn” a metaphor for the church?

The “inn” is an apt metaphor for the church, because the church is the place where sinful people can be taken to be healed and restored – i.e., a hospital for the sick. In the parable, the Good Samaritan leaves the injured man at the inn, telling the innkeeper to look after him until he returns. As alluded to above, this is exactly what I experienced during college. God placed people from the church in my life, who extended His love and care to me, becoming a community where I could be fully known, and both receive and give love. Through this community, I experienced how love can indeed cover over a multitude of sins as well as victory over my sinful struggles, all of which on my own would have been impossible. This highlights the importance of the church – God does not save us simply into a life that is independently lived out. Instead, once He saves us He brings us to His inn, the church, where we can live life together with other people who have similarly rescued. There is something about this kind of tight-knit life-on-life community that is an essential part of God’s salvation plan. And while I’ve been here at our church over 10 years now, I only appreciate more and more that I am not called to succeed in Christian life on my own, but that I have fellow brothers and sisters, also saved and forgiven, with whom I can run the race set before us together.

  • How have I responded to Jesus’ command: “Go and do likewise.”

I have responded to Jesus’ command “Go and do likewise” by committing myself to God’s ministry, a life of love and sacrifice. After college, I joined our church’s college ministry, as I wanted to live out what it means to be a fisher of men, to take part in God’s ministry of reconciliation. That said, while I strive to live a life of sacrificial love, I know that I fall so short, so much of the time. There are still so many ways I am just like the priest and Levite, finding any excuse to avoid having to do the hard work of love. Yet when I think back to my own testimony, of how Jesus saved me, as well as look at the many people at our church who are sacrificing so much, I find strength to keep at it despite failure, to never be satisfied that I’m doing enough. Looking back, I knew that if I held back from serving after graduating, rather than having more time for myself, my life would instead have just been filled by something lesser, most likely career and the pursuit of comfort/financial security. As I look around at people who are in my profession, they live rather sad lives, usually disgruntled with being overworked, having few deep friendships, lives that revolve only around the nuclear family, and living for the weekend/vacation. This gives me even greater assurance that obedience to God’s command “Be a neighbor” is indeed the most blessed life.

Submitted by Nelson W. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Luke 10:30-37

  • What reasons might the priest and the Levite have cited for their avoidance?

There are many reasons the priest and Levite could have given to explain why they avoided the man lying there on the road. He could be dead and for the priest, touching a dead man would make him unclean and that came with consequences. Helping the man would also make them vulnerable to falling prey to the many robbers on the road to Jericho. Or it could have been a trap set up by the robbers. There was definitely danger involved in helping the man and the priest and Levite were not willing to take such a risk. But even aside from the danger, getting involved would have been an inconvenience. The priest and Levite would probably say that they had enough to do on their hands, enough people to worry about and deal with, didn’t have the resources or money to help the man if he needed medical care, didn’t have time because they were in a hurry, etc. They could have come up with many excuses to justify their inaction but in the end, helping the man involved a personal cost for them that they were unwilling to pay.

  • According to this parable, what is Jesus’ answer to the question “Who is my neighbor”?

Here, Jesus redefines the definition of neighbor for the expert in the law. The twist to this parable is that the priest and Levite are the ones you would normally expect to help the traveler but they didn’t. Rather, it’s the person the Jews would normally have nothing to do with, the Samaritan, who had mercy on the man and was a neighbor to him. The expert in the law thought his neighbors were only those who were close or who share some kind of mutual bond. This included family, friends, relatives, and fellow Jews. But Jesus tells him that no one is disqualified from being our neighbor, even those he would not normally associate himself with. This is what I need to hear as well because, like the expert in the law, I am so accustomed to being a neighbor only to those who are close to me, who I find of interest, who I am obligated to and responsible for, and who can benefit me in some way. But Jesus’ heart reaches out to everyone and He wants me to share in His heart of compassion for all people.

  • In what ways does sin rob, strip and beat people?

“Sin will always cost you more than you intended to pay, it will take you further than you intended to go, and it will keep you longer than you intended to stay.” Sin is tempting and deceptive. It fools us into compromising, taking a step in the wrong direction. It convinces us that things will be ok, that it’s not that bad, that we deserve it, that it will only be this one time and one time won’t hurt that much. Before we know it, we see that the joy and fulfillment promised to us was only a twisted, short-lived version of the real thing. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy”. We were robbed of true joy because we traded it for something counterfeit that only leaves us emptier and hungrier. Sin strips us of our innocence, dignity, and sense of self-worth. We become physically, mentally, and emotionally scarred from the long-lasting damage of our own sins and the sins others have inflicted on us. Sin fills us with guilt, regret, resentment, and brokenness. It destroys parts of our humanity. It leaves us in a place far from what was promised and sadly, it’s often only after the fact that we realize and see what it has done to us.

  • In what ways was Jesus like this Good Samaritan for me?

I have experienced Jesus being the Good Samaritan for me because He found me when I was dead in my sin and rescued me. When I was in high school, there was no one to watch over me as I lived a reckless and destructive life, doing whatever I wanted without any regard for how it would damage my life and the lives of those who loved me. Sin had robbed me and left me empty and broken. But God somehow used this situation, reversed it, and transformed it into a blessing. Jesus had pity on me, picked me up, and carried me to this community of Christ-followers where He has loved and cared for me through the leaders and members of this church. Here, He has been gradually healing me from the damage of sin, bandaging up my wounds as He deals with my sins and shapes me. He has restored my humanity, filling what was empty with true meaning, blessing, and joy.

  • In what ways is the “inn” a metaphor for the church?

The church is the “inn” because Jesus rescues us and brings us to a body of believers who have been entrusted to look after and take care of us. It is with other believers that can experience life-giving community, healing, and restoration as we mend the broken relationships we have with ourselves, each other, and God. By living out my life out with leaders, fellow believers, and with sheep to minister to, I have experienced healing from my sins as God shapes me and restores my humanity.

  • How have I responded to Jesus’ command: “Go and do likewise.”

Even as I am still in the process of being healed, Jesus has called and allowed me to be the innkeeper, entrusting me to look after and take care of those He rescues and carries to the inn. I have responded to this command by being serving in ministry, currently with college students. But whom I consider a “neighbor” I need to take care of needs to include more than just the students placed under me or the people in my immediate vicinity. I also need to go and be a neighbor to anyone I encounter. Jesus calls me to reach out to them, bring them in, take care of them, and mold them into fellow innkeepers. Being allowed to serve and be a part of God’s work has expanded my heart and filled it with God’s love where there was none before. Obeying Jesus’ calling has been one of the greatest blessings of my life because I have experienced healing and restoration through being used by God to love and serve others.

PERSONAL PRAYER

Heavenly Father, I offer you praise for the love and mercy you have shown a foolish sinner like me. Thank you for how you have been the Good Samaritan in my life, rescuing me when sin had robbed me, beaten me, and left me for dead. Thank you for bringing me to this inn, this church, this community of Christ-followers where I have experienced healing and restoration. Please continue to shape me and fill me with your mercy, love, and compassion as I commit to obeying your command for me to love others the same way you loved me. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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