Loving Our Neighbor - Luke 10:25-37 (Sermon)

 



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INTRO

Hi, I am pastor Rob. It is a privilege to worship with you this morning. Thank you, worship team.  

MAXIMILLIAN KOLBE

Eighty years ago, this month, a priest met an army sergeant Franciszek in a Nazi death camp called Auschwitz. Not long after that, they met again. Several prisoners had escaped, and the guards wanted retribution. The deputy commander Karl Fritzsch ordered ten people to starve to death. They chose the Polish sergeant. He cried out for mercy. He had a wife and two children, “Don’t let me die.” The priest, Maximilian Kolbe (Kolbee), stepped forward and offered his life for the sergeant’s life. The Commander accepted this substitution and sent the priest to die. Father Kolbe led his fellow prisoners in prayer, singing hymns and Psalms as they starved. After two weeks without any food, Father Kolbe and a couple of others were still alive. The guards decided to finish him off by injecting him with poison. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” John 15:13. 

REFLECTION 

Would you do that? Would you give up your life for a stranger? Fortunately, I don’t think many of us, if any of us, will ever have to, but we will have opportunities to love other people in inconvenient, costly, and risky ways this week. God wants us to love our neighbor as ourselves. What does that mean? This morning, we will examine these questions and more through the lens of Luke, chapter 10, verses 25 through 37. 

Text

I have asked J. R. to read for us. Would you please stand with me in honor of God’s Word, if you are able? 

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

Prayer 

Thank you. Let’s pray, God, help us. Help me. We need you to teach us to love. Teach me to love. Help us to love you with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Help us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Help us to love our families, co-workers, classmates, strangers, and even enemies for your glory. May the world know we are Christians by our love. May love be our marquee. I confess, loving is not always easy. Loving myself is, but you and others too often get my leftovers. Motivate my friends and me here by showing us your love for us in the Scriptures and filling us with your Spirit. AMEN. You may be seated. 

Context  - BOOK LVL

As we begin, let’s remember Luke’s point. I want you to see it for yourself. If you have your Bibles, turn to chapter one verse one of Luke. That is Luke chapter one, verse one. Luke wrote, 

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. (Luke 1:1–4)

In these verses, we hear whom Luke writes: Theophilus. Why did he write to him? He wrote that Theophilus would “have certainty concerning the things” he had been taught. That raises the question, “What had Theophilus been taught?” In this short book, we will read that Jesus was the Savior of the lost, the prophesied Messiah, bringing spiritual salvation, eternal life to the nations. That is what Theophilus was taught.

STRUCTURE OF BOOK 

Contextually, chapters 9 through 19 describe Jesus’s journey from the region of Galilee in the north to the city of Jerusalem in Israel (Source, ESV Study Bible Introduction). Jesus was on a mission. 

ANTAGONIST

Jesus’s mission was not simple. He had opposition. In the passage, we read a lawyer was seeking to test him. Not like a teacher, but like a prosecutor. From other source documents, we know this lawyer was related to the Jewish leadership and was religious. In general, that class wanted Jesus dead, not his message. 

OVERVIEW 

In verse 25, the hot-shot lawyer asked Jesus a seemingly innocuous question. How might I have eternal life, and Jesus saw through the veneer of this loaded weapon. He knew what was going on. In reply, he turned the tables and the lawyer, and we heard a call to love our neighbor in a way from an unlikely fellow. If you are taking notes this morning, I have four points. 

Point 1 - The Trap (vs. 25–28)

Point 2 - The Escape (vs. 29)

Point 3 - The Answer (vs. 30–37)

Point 4 - Our Response  

Let me say that again. 

Point 1 - The Trap (vs. 25–28)

Point 2 - The Escape (vs. 29)

Point 3 - The Answer (vs. 30–37)

Point 4 - Our Response  

Point 1 - Point 1 - The Trap

Point 1 - The Trap. Turn from chapter one in Luke back to chapter 10. Look at verse 25. Notice the lawyer’s trap, “How do I inherit eternal life?” Wouldn’t you love for someone to ask you that question? I would. Yet, as I said and we saw, the lawyer was trying to trick Jesus. He wanted him to look bad or speak against the law in some way.  

JESUS’S RESPONSE

Jesus shocked him. He responded with his question, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” Who knows the law better than a lawyer? This lawyer certainly would have an answer and an opinion. Wouldn’t he? He does.

TWO GREAT COMMANDMENTS

He sums up the law with what the Jews call the Shema and the golden rule. Look at verse 27. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself. If you want eternal life, the lawyer was saying, “Love God and love people.” Obey the law. Obedience leads us to eternal life. 

KEEP READING 

What did Jesus say to that? Look at verse 28. He said, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” Isn’t that interesting what he said? So, does obedience get us into heaven? I don’t think that is what Jesus was saying. Let me tell you why. Look at the lawyer’s response. The lawyer doesn’t smile and pats himself on the back. He responds by justifying himself. His life was now on trial, and it didn't look good for him. Why do I say that? 

2nd POINT 

This brings me to my second point. 

Point 2 - The Escape.

We have seen the trap. Now let’s see The Escape. Look at verse 29. Luke tells us that he wanted to justify himself. The attorney was seeking a way out of Jesus’s call. I think he felt the dissonance between what he said was the way to eternal life and his moral track record. Deep down, he must have seen that he didn’t love his neighbor as himself. I doubt he loved God with everything in him. Who could? It seems he didn’t have peace of mind or assurance of eternal life after Jesus’s question. Thus, he did what most would do; he sought an escape. How did he do that? He asked Jesus, 

“Who is my neighbor?” 

What do you think he was trying to do with that question? Why did he ask that? I think, if he could narrow the scope of whom Jesus wanted him to love, he would have a chance at passing the legal definition of loving one’s neighbor. He tried to move the goalposts. That is why he asked this question in verse 29, Who is my neighbor? Is the neighbor the ones who literally lives next door? Is that what Leviticus 19 verse 8 means or what Jesus intended? Or are the neighbors the ones who look like him, talk like him, and think like him? Are neighbors those who we like us and we like back? I envision the lawyer had some neighbors he wanted to exclude from this call to love; hence he asked the question, Who is my neighbor? Possibly, we would as well. Neighbors are not always easy to love. Perhaps his difficult neighbor was a co-worker, classmate, family member, or literally the person next door. We don’t know. 

JESUS’S RESPONSE 

How did Jesus treat this dodge? This brings us to my third point, The Answer. We have seen the trap, the escape, now let’s look at Jesus’s answer. In verse 30, he responded ingeniously: with a story. We all love stories. On top of that, he never answers the lawyer’s question. He answered a different one. He illustrated what a neighbor does, not who a neighbor is. What does it mean to be neighborly and love one’s neighbor? 

REHASH THE STORY

His story began with a traveler going from Jerusalem to Jericho. It is a steep descent of about 3000 feet with sharp turns: ideal for criminal activity. This traveler is mugged and left for dead. Three guys, one at a time, walk past, a Priest, a Levite, and a Samaritan. The first two were like the lawyer. They were part of the unique religious class with pedigree, privilege, and power. They were the good ole boys, the heroes, and community leaders. However, in this story and in the time of Jesus, they are not the example of loving the neighbor. 

SAMARITAN

Surprisingly, the hero was the Samaritan. The Samaritan gave his time, money, and energy to take care of a stranger. Why was that shocking? Samaritans were the exact opposite of the religiously Jewish people. They were a people who broke off from the nation and faith, living geographically sandwiched between Jerusalem and Galilee. They were apostate, unorthodox, and compromising. Consequently, people like the lawyer would have nothing to do with them. They would not eat with them or interact with them. Jesus used this great contrast to get at the heart. In verse 36, he finished the story and asked, “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” The lawyer answered, “The one who showed him mercy.” The lawyer was correct. The Samaritan loved his neighbor as himself. 

DO LIKEWISE

This brings me to my last point, Our Response. Jesus ends by saying in verse 37, “You go, and do likewise.”Do likewise. We have talked about the trap, the escape, the answer, now let’s talk about our response to Jesus. How did the lawyer respond to Jesus? We don’t know. I think that is on purpose. Luke wants us to think of ourselves in the same terms. How do we love our neighbor? How do we love God? How do we get eternal life? How do we respond? What does this all mean? Was Jesus concluding that this man needed to stop on the road for all who needed help? Does God want us to always pull over on 94 every time we see a car on the side of the road? Is that what Jesus meant? God might call us to do just that from time to time; yet, Jesus asks more than a simple task to check off our list in the call to love. Loving our means we go, and do likewise. Likewise.

WHAT IS LOVE

Maybe, like the lawyer, part of us wants a way out too. So we might ask, not Who is my neighbor, but what is love? You are in luck. God defines it. He says,  

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) 

That being the case, do we love our neighbor? Are we patient, or are we rude? This has been a particular challenge for me this week as I work. Am I patient? Am I rude? Am I loving? Are we selfless, or are we insistent? Do we love at work, in our neighborhood, school, or home? Jesus doesn’t put parameters on who or where or when we love. The call for us is to love our neighbor, period. It can be inconvenient, costly, and risky like it was for the Samaritan. This Samaritan didn’t know if the person lying on the road was indeed in trouble. He could have been faking it and bait for violence and theft. The Samaritan had to change his plans, invest time, energy, and money to help this stranger. What does loving our neighbor look like? How do we love our neighbor? How do we love our neighbor when we don’t want to? How do we motivate ourselves to love?   

HOW DO WE LOVE WHEN WE WOULD RATHER JUSTIFY OURSELVES

How do we love our neighbor? Here are three things to help us respond to this invitation, 

  1. Seek a better understanding of God’s love for you

  2. Seek a better understanding of God’s holiness

  3. Seek more of the Holy Spirit. 

Let me say that again. 

  1. Seek a better understanding of God’s love for you

  2. Seek a better understanding of God’s holiness

  3. Seek more of the Holy Spirit. 

The apostle Paul said it this way, “For the love of Christ controls us” (2 Corinthians 5:14). Some other versions say the love of Christ compels us. Elsewhere in the Bible, we read, 

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:9–11)

So, we love because the Father first loved us. We love them because he sent his only Son, Jesus, for us. We love because Jesus took our place of punishment for us. God’s love is the engine that drives us to action. Jesus was the good Samaritan, and we the dead man on the side of the road. Jesus was like Father Kolbe and us, the army sergeant sentenced to death pleading for mercy. The Bible says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). How do you inherit eternal life? Believe. Someone obeyed perfectly to gain eternal life, and it wasn’t you or me, but Jesus. His obedience led to his death, and it bought us our life: eternal life. 

DON’T REALIZE IT

I don’t think we fully comprehend God’s love. I don’t. Friends: Jesus left heaven. Heaven. Perfect, exhilarating, exquisite, and unbelievable paradise. He left heaven for this, a life with no electricity, running water, heating, air conditioning, refrigeration, social security, or modern first-world conveniences. He endured growing up to be a no-name carpenter in a no-name town. At thirty, he finally began his ministry. In his rise to prominence, leadership mocked him and eventually arrested him under false accusations. In custody, temple guards spat on him, beat him, and finally had him crucified. All that time, the Father could have rescued the Son. All that time, the Son, who stopped a storm with a word, could have paused time and easily escaped like in the movies. Why did Jesus subject himself to this atrocity? Because he loved you. He was seeking to save the lost. We all were lost. He took our place. He gave his life to give us eternal life. It is incredible. Do you know God’s love? 

LEGALISM

It is hard to feel God’s love from time to time because we have not followed God’s law perfectly. We have not obeyed Jesus or the Bible. Our conscience is pricked, guilty, and ashamed. This can make it hard to feel God’s love. Why? Why is it hard to accept Jesus’s free gift of life when thinking of sin? For some of us, a part of us still believes God loves us when we are good and doesn’t love us when we are bad. That is not how God’s love works. He loved us, knowing we would and will disobey in this life. Jesus didn’t come to Earth to die for those who were perfect, but those who were lost, going their own way and needing God’s mercy and grace to pull them out of the pit of trouble and despair. The Bible says that if we confess our sins, he forgives us and purifies us from all unrighteousness, no matter what sin we committed. He loves those of us who trust in him with an undying, never-ending, unstoppable love. How do we respond to such great love? We love him and others back in gratitude. 

THE SERGEANT 

How do you think that sergeant from Poland eighty years ago responded to the priestly sacrifice? What happened? He survived. He lived some fifty years beyond that. How do you think he felt each morning his heart kept beating, or he sat down for coffee and toast, or he felt a pang of hunger before lunch? How do you think he felt when he stared into his wife’s eyes or hugged his children before they went off to school or watched his grandkid kick a ball? Do you think he was grateful when he looked in the mirror? You bet he was. Friends, we are that sergeant who had a sentence to die. Jesus saved us by taking our place on the cross two thousand years ago. That is the gospel or good news. We were dead men and women made alive. He took the Father’s wrath for our sin and loved us and made us part of his family, not because of anything we have done. That is mercy and grace. If you want to love your neighbor, grow in your understanding of God’s love for you. 

TOO GOOD

Now, maybe loving your neighbor is hard for other reasons. We can first, 

  1. Seek a better understanding of God’s love for you

Secondly, we can 

  1. Seek a better understanding of God’s holiness

I think understanding God’s holiness can help us. Holy is another word for being set apart, other, and perfect. J.C. Ryle has a great book on holiness that has cut my heart to the quick. The holiness of God can help us appreciate and understand ourselves and God’s love better. We will see Jesus’s sacrifice as more valuable. Another way to grow in understanding God’s holiness is understanding our sinfulness. We can pray with King David Psalm 139, 

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!

    Try me and know my thoughts!

24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,

    and lead me in the way everlasting!

Join King David, asking God to show you your sin. God tends to answer that kind of prayer. Sin is in all of us. Often we just don’t see it. We all have sinned we need to turn from. We are not perfect yet. We were so bad Jesus had to die. But God loves us so much; he chose death and would do it again because he loves you. Our holy God loves us. He loves you.  

HOLY SPIRIT

So, if you can’t love, seek to better understand God’s love. If you can’t love, seek to better understand his holiness. And finally, if you can’t love, Seek more of the Holy Spirit. “What does his Spirit have to do with love?” Everything. The Bible says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love” (Galatians 5:22). Elsewhere it says, “God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). If you want to love your neighbor, ask for more of the Spirit. 

NOT SAVED 

Perhaps, you have never known God’s love, holiness, or Spirit. Friend, know and believe, and receive his love and presence today. What a perfect day to believe and receive God’s love and presence. Admit you are lost and be found now. He died that we might live eternally forever in Heaven with him. He gave his life for our life. He took our place. Do you believe it? Do you want eternal life? Do you want to love your neighbor? Then know and receive our holy God’s love today and be filled with his Spirit.  

PRAY

Let’s pray. 


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