Discipleship in Community

16 Oct 2017 In: Sermons

For the past two weeks we’ve been looking at our mission as followers of Jesus Christ to be and to make disciples. And I know this isn’t the first time most of us have looked at this issue of discipleship. I think most of us understand that one of our main goals as his followers, is to help people trust and follow Jesus. I mean, Jesus’ command to his original followers makes our objective pretty clear. Matthew 28:18 says…

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

So the objective is pretty clear, but what’s not as clear, is exactly how we are supposed to do that. The end goal is pretty obvious – the “how to get there” is not so specific.

And so to find the “how”, we’ve been looking at the Biblical patterns and the models for discipleship. How did Jesus do it? How did the early church do it? How did Paul & Timothy and all those guys do it? How did they do it back in the Old Testament? And how can we do it today?

How do we help people trust and follow Jesus?

Well, we’ve found that discipleship happens in five different contexts. There are five types of relationships that all contribute to the disciple-making process.

We’ve identified these contexts as the public context, the social context, the personal context, the transparent context, and the divine context. And of course, we’re not going to find a verse that lists these five contexts for making disciple – but throughout the Bible we can see that God uses these 5 different contexts to help people trust and follow Him.

And so our goal for these next few weeks is to understand how God works in these contexts so that we can maximize our efforts in our own discipleship and in the discipleship of others.

Last week we looked at the public context. And the public context is defined as 100s of people gathering together around a shared resource – this could be thousands of fans at football game or a hundred people on a flight to Edmonton, or a youtube video seen by millions or what the church is most commonly known for – a bunch of people gathering for the Sunday morning worship service.

And we discovered that the public context really isn’t well suited for building personal relationships, but it is well suited to conveying information and sharing stories with large groups of people. Jesus certainly made use of this context as he preached to the crowds and did miracles and told parables. That was all done in groups of 100s or 1000s and it was certainly significant in helping people trust and follow Jesus.

And so following that pattern, we determined that the Sunday morning service can be a place where people experience inspiration to keep serving Jesus – We are motivated, persuaded, encouraged, influenced, moved, stirred, spurred on, energized, and awakened. We also get a sense of movementum (That’s movement and momentum jammed together) as we see that God is at work all around us. And then, through preaching and teaching, we are reminded that everything revolves around God – this is ultimately His story and we get to be a part of it.

And so certainly the public context can be very significant in helping people trust and follow Jesus. But of course, that can’t be the only context. We would miss out on so much if that was the only place where we were discipled. And as we are going to discover today, we would have a really hard time making new disciples if that was the only context where we contributed to the discipleship of others.

And so on that note, today we are going to look at the social context. Read the rest of this entry »

Table of contents for Discipleship that Fits

  1. What is Discipleship?
  2. Discipleship in a Crowd
  3. Discipleship in Community

Discipleship in a Crowd

9 Oct 2017 In: Sermons

“Helping People Trust & Follow Jesus”

That was one of our main lessons from last week and it was based on the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:18-20.

18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

We summed up the main ideas in this passage and ended up with this easy-to-remember statement about what discipleship is all about: helping people trust and follow Jesus.

And we brought up this whole topic of discipleship, not because this is some crazy, new idea that we should make disciples. I think most of us are well aware that Jesus has commanded us to go and make disciples. That’s one of our main purposes in this life as Christians. To be a disciple of Jesus, and to make disciples of Jesus – or as we’ve defined discipleship here, to help people trust and follow Jesus.

And so we’re not bringing this up because we didn’t know that we’re supposed to make disciples. But rather, we’re bring this up because I think a lot of us don’t know how to make disciples. I think we want to make disciples – we want to help people trust and follow Jesus – but we’re just not sure how.

Obviously being a disciple of Jesus means doing what Jesus did – but we can’t replicate everything that Jesus did. We can’t walk on water, we can’t give sight to the blind or bring people back to life. And even if we leave out the miracles, I’m not sure we’re in a position where we can have 12 grown men following us around everywhere – living life with us. All that stuff seemed to work really well for Jesus as he made disciples, but I don’t think that’s what he expects of us today.

So somehow, we’ve got to learn the principles behind what Jesus did so that we can live out those principles in our current context. We’ve got to find a discipleship model that fits. Read the rest of this entry »

Table of contents for Discipleship that Fits

  1. What is Discipleship?
  2. Discipleship in a Crowd
  3. Discipleship in Community

What is Discipleship?

3 Oct 2017 In: Sermons

This video was certainly made to make a point – but I like it mostly because it asks a really good question. They frame it in different ways, but really, the bottom line of what they’re asking is “What does it look like to make disciples?”

Does it look like a big building and lots of programs? Does it look like a soup kitchen or a Bible study? Are disciples made in a Sunday morning service or over coffee at Tim Hortons?

And furthermore, how are you and I supposed to be involved in the whole process? What is our own discipleship look like? Is it faithfully attending church every Sunday? Is it signing up for a small group Bible study? Is it going for coffee with a mentor every second Wednesday?

What does it look like to be a disciple? And what does it look like to make disciples?

Because that really is the core of what Jesus has called us to do. I think that’s the main reason why we are still on this planet. We are called both to be disciples and to make disciples.

So exactly what does that look like?

Two Sundays ago, we baptized Allison and Lisa – and they declared in front of all of us by being baptized, that they desire to be a disciple of Jesus. And I know that many of you have made that same declaration – either through public baptism or through just your own personal resolution.

So what do we need to do? What do Lisa and Allison need to do now – to be disciples of Jesus Christ? How does that actually play out in their lives? How does that all play out in our lives?

Well, it’s those questions that are exactly I want to explore in the next few weeks as we look at “Discipleship that Fits”. 

I think most of us would agree that Jesus calls us to make disciples. I think we’ve heard that often enough. But I think we struggle with figuring out exactly how we do that. In fact, I’d argue that many of us struggle just to understand what it really means to be a disciple.

So to help us work through all this, here’s my plan for the next several weeks. First of all, I want to bring some clarity to what it means to be a disciple – that’ll be my main focus for this week. But then, in the weeks to follow, I want to look at some practical ways for us to be discipled and to make disciples within five different contexts of life.

And I’ll explain all that a little later – but my framework for these messages is coming from a book I read some time ago called ‘Discipleship that Fits’ and I’ll be borrowing quite a bit of my content from those pages. Don’t worry – the Bible is still very much the foundation for everything I’m going to say, but this book has just helped me organize my presentation of those Biblical truths. You’re welcome to read the book yourself – it’s a pretty easy read and of course, is very Biblically based.

So in order to clarify exactly, what is a disciple, I think perhaps the best place to start is with the great commission. This is the passage where Jesus’ original disciples are directly commanded to go and make disciples. It’s found in Matthew 28 – starting at verse 18. To give you the context of this passage, Jesus has just risen from the dead, he has appeared to his disciples, and he’s about to return to his Father in Heaven. And so Matthew is about to conclude his whole account of Jesus’ life on earth with these final sentences from Jesus. This is what it says: Read the rest of this entry »

Table of contents for Discipleship that Fits

  1. What is Discipleship?
  2. Discipleship in a Crowd
  3. Discipleship in Community

Well last night we were reminded from Isaiah of God’s infinite greatness. You can read the passage here: Isaiah 40:12-31.

We really can’t comprehend how powerful, and how wise, and how good our God really is.

And all too often we lose perspective when we are faced with the difficult issues of life. We get overwhelmed by things that seem impossible. We get stressed out when we don’t know how to resolve the situations we’re in.

And it’s like we’re looking at these pictures of everyday objects under a microscope. All we can see is what’s right in front of our face. But if we can take a moment to try to see things from God’s perspective, things might look very different. Our impossible situations might not seem quite so impossible.

If we can remember that our God is so big, so strong and so mighty (not to mention so good and so wise and so loving), then even the biggest issues that we face won’t seem to be so big after all.

And so this morning, I want to continue to help us zoom out a little bit. And to help us do that, I want us to look at the story of Joseph.

There were so many times in Joseph’s life where the situation seemed hopeless, resolution seemed impossible – but we have the advantage of seeing things from God’s perspective. The whole story and everything that God set in motion through this story is all recorded in the Bible, we can clearly see God’s hand smack dab in the middle of all of it. But Joseph didn’t have that luxury. He had to go through his situations just like we go through ours – with our face right up against the tree – unable to see the forest beyond…

So I want to do a fairly quick review of Joseph’s life. I’m not going to focus on the highlights, I’m actually going to focus on the low-lights. I want to look at all the hardest times in Joseph’s life – those times where all he could see was the impossible situation that He was in. Those times where he was completely overwhelmed. Where he was stressed to the max. Where he lost sleep because he didn’t see any way to change his situation.

And hopefully, as we look at his story, and as we see things from God’s perspective, it’ll encourage us in our situations as well. So let’s jump right into it.

2 This is the account of Jacob and his family. When Joseph was seventeen years old, he often tended his father’s flocks. He worked for his half brothers, the sons of his father’s wives Bilhah and Zilpah. But Joseph reported to his father some of the bad things his brothers were doing.

3 Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. So one day Jacob had a special gift made for Joseph—a beautiful robe. 4 But his brothers hated Joseph because their father loved him more than the rest of them. They couldn’t say a kind word to him.

Genesis 37:2-4

So let’s just pause here at this first low-light of Joseph’s life. Anyone with siblings knows that brothers or sisters don’t always get along. But this seems to be deeper than brotherly annoyance, or occasional fighting. Joseph’s brother’s hated him. They could not say a kind word to him. In fact, in just a bit we’ll see that they wished he was dead. Like literally. And they were even willing to take the steps necessary to make that happen.

And I am so thankful that I don’t know what that would be like. Not even remotely. But some of you do. Maybe not to this extreme… but then again, maybe so. Some of you know exactly what it’s like for someone to hate you – maybe a brother or sister, someone at school, or whoever else it might be…

And I can sure understand how that might feel like an impossible situation. When we’re dealing with broken relationships, I’m sure there are times when that can feel totally overwhelming and hopeless. It can feel like a stalemate – there’s just no possible resolution. It seems there’s nothing you can do about it.

I’m sure that’s how Joseph saw his relationship with his brothers. Its just the way it was. It wasn’t his fault that dad liked him best. (Although you do get the idea that Joseph didn’t always help the situation either.) But regardless, Joseph lived through the bulk of his teenage years being hated by his brothers.

You have to wonder how lonely he felt growing up? I mean, family was everything back then. You didn’t spend your time with your friends at the mall or even at school – everything was centred around your home and your family. So if your family hated you, you’re a pretty lonely guy. That’d be a pretty tough life.

The one bright spot in all this was his Father. Even when his brothers hated him, at least he knew his dad would always be there for him… Well, at least for a while. Thanks to his brothers, he was about to lose everything and everyone.

In the next few verses we read how Joseph’s brother plot to kill Joseph by throwing him into a cistern. They’re out far from home watching the sheep and Joseph goes out to see how they’re doing. Then it says in verse 23…

23 So when Joseph arrived, his brothers ripped off the beautiful robe he was wearing. 24 Then they grabbed him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it. 25 Then, just as they were sitting down to eat, they looked up and saw a caravan of camels in the distance coming toward them. It was a group of Ishmaelite traders taking a load of gum, balm, and aromatic resin from Gilead down to Egypt.

26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain by killing our brother? We’d have to cover up the crime. 27 Instead of hurting him, let’s sell him to those Ishmaelite traders. After all, he is our brother—our own flesh and blood!” And his brothers agreed. 28 So when the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver. And the traders took him to Egypt.

Genesis 27:23-28

Can you imagine? Being betrayed by your family. Having your own brothers planning out how to take your life. And then to have them sell you to some stranger. To lose all rights as human being. You’re now treated as property belonging to someone else. Shipped off to another country. Forced to work for someone that you don’t speak their language. No hope of ever going home. No hope of ever seeing your family again.

If anyone was in a hopeless situation – if anyone ever had the right to be totally overwhelmed by their circumstances – Joseph was the guy.

And believe it or not – its not over yet. There’s still more betrayal, more injustice, more loneliness and loss in store for Jospeh. But before we go any further, I want you to see something here. This is important. Look at Genesis 39 – verse 1 & 2.

When Joseph was taken to Egypt by the Ishmaelite traders, he was purchased by Potiphar, an Egyptian officer. Potiphar was captain of the guard for Pharaoh, the king of Egypt.

2 The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master.

Genesis 39:1-2

That is such an important verse. The Lord was with Joseph. God had not forgotten about him. God had not abandoned him. You can sure understand that Joseph might have felt that way – that God had forgotten him or abandoned him. Maybe you’ve felt the same way as you face your impossible situations.

Maybe you feel like God is a million miles away – that he doesn’t hear you – or that he does care. But that’s not the case. Even when we go through the lowest points in our life, God is still right there with us.

Psalm 23 reminds us:

“Even when I walk through the darkest valley,  (the Old KJV says “the valley of the shadow of death”)

I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Psalm 23:4

God is always right there with us – even in our most stressful, difficult situations – just like He was with Joseph. And most of you know the next part of the story – in Egypt, working for Potiphar, Joseph does very well and ends up in charge of the whole house. But Potiphar’s wife takes a liking to Joseph and tries to sleep with him. Joseph is a man of integrity and refuses her advances, which doesn’t make her very happy – and so she lies about Joseph to her husband and she accuses him of trying to sleep with her.

We read in Genesis 39:19-21

19 Potiphar was furious when he heard his wife’s story about how Joseph had treated her. 20 So he took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the king’s prisoners were held, and there he remained. Genesis 39:19-20

So now Joseph is not only a slave – but he’s a slave in prison. It’s just one thing after another with Joseph. But this is where I want us to start looking at the big picture.

We need to realize that God had not allowed any of this to happen without God’s permission. There was nothing that had happened to Joseph that God wasn’t going to use for his divine purpose and plan. That’s not to say that God caused it all to happen, but rather that God was going to take everything that did happen and use it for his good plan and purpose.

Now I am sure that when Jospeh was in chains, marching off to Egypt, knowing that he had been sold out by his brothers, knowing that he would probably never see his father again, knowing that he would likely be a slave from now until the day he died (which was probably not too far off)… As Joseph considered his situation, I guarantee you that he was not seeing God at work. As Joseph sat in that Egyptian prison, he did not see God’s wondrous plan for his life.

When we’re in those overwhelming situations, we probably can’t either. We can’t see the forest for the trees. All we see is that giant redwood tree right in front of us.

All we can do in those times is to trust that God has a better perspective than we do. All we can do is trust that God can see beyond this big ol’ redwood tree in front of us and that somehow, He will navigate us through and lead us exactly to where He wants us to be.

And that’s exactly what God was doing with Joseph. God was navigating him to be exactly where he wanted him to be. And God was using every situation in Joseph’s life to get him there. All the things that Satan intended for evil – God hijacked and used for good.

God used Joseph’s brother’s hate and betrayal to get him into Egypt – which as a slave, right now, doesn’t seem like a step forward, but it was an important leg in Joseph’s journey. Because it was from there that Joseph could get thrown in jail. (And perhaps that doesn’t seem like a step forward either, but hang on, we’re getting there…)

For the sake of time, let me summarize the next ten chapters…

While in jail, God enables Joseph to interpret a dream for one of the guys who worked for Pharaoh. This guy in turn, later on, tells Pharaoh about Joseph when Pharaoh has a dream that he doesn’t understand.

To make a long story short, Joseph explains Pharaoh’s dream to him – which is actually a message from God warning about a seven year famine that is about to come. Pharaoh is so impressed by Joseph that he puts him in charge of collecting all the food to prepare for the famine – in essence making Joseph the highest ranking official in Egypt next to Pharaoh himself.

In the end, Joseph’s brothers end up coming to Egypt for food, Joseph feeds them and saves them from starvation and invites his family to move to Egypt and live there.

It’s a crazy turn of events – but it’s what God had planned all along. God use all the stuff that happened to Joseph, and what was intended for evil, God redeemed and used for good.

And at the end of his life, Joseph even recognized that. In Genesis 50, verse 20, Joseph says to his brothers…

20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. Genesis 50:20

I’m sure he didn’t see that while he was going through all that hard stuff, but he could see it now. And in fact, that was the end of God’s plan either.

To zoom out even further, as you continue reading through the Bible, you see that Joseph’s family in Egypt grows to become the nation of Israel – God’s chosen people. Through this nation, God reveals his plan for salvation. Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is born as an Israelite. It’s this descendant of Joseph’s family who dies on a cross and rises again to save his people from their sins.

And then to zoom out even further, you and I have the opportunity to put our trust in Jesus and have eternal life… And that all stems from what God did in Joseph’s life.

Through everything that happened in Joseph’s life, God was in charge. God had a plan for Joseph, for Joseph’s family, for Joseph’s descendants, and everyone who would ever trust in Jesus.

Now could Joseph see all that? Of course not. But could God? Of course He could.

And so that’s really my encouragement to you today. As much as I would love to see the big picture of what God is doing in my life – especially when he allows hard stuff to happen – the fact is, I just can’t. We can’t see the future. We can’t see beyond the big ol’ tree that’s right in front of us.

However, God can. And knowing that God knows and that God is in charge, and that God has a good plan, allows me to trust Him. I don’t have to see the big picture. I just have to remember that God does.

The Rich Fool

11 Sep 2017 In: Sermons

I want to begin this morning with a question. And I don’t want you to raise your hand – I’m not going to make you discuss this in small groups or anything. But I just want you to think about it. Here’s the question:

Do you consider yourself to be a success? Are you living a successful life?

And that might be a difficult question to answer depending on how you define “success”.

The dictionary defines success as the accomplishment of an aim or a purpose, so when I ask you “Are you living a successful life?”, I imagine you have some sort of check list in your head that you run through.

Have I done this? Have I accomplished that? And you go through to see if you have accomplished your aims and your purposes.

But I guess before we can answer if we are living a successful life, perhaps the real question is, by which aims or purposes do you measure your success? What sort of things need to be on that checklist?

Because by most North American or western standards – success is measured by how much stuff we have and how nice that stuff is.

We look at the house we live in – the salary we make – the car we drive – the vacations we take – and if we’re about at the same level as our neighbours – (maybe a little above) then we’re a success. Right? Isn’t that how it works?

We might not say that out loud – but isn’t that underlying value system that we live by?

In fact, that’s been the underlying value system of mankind pretty much since the beginning of time. We’ve bought into this idea that gathering nice stuff makes us successful.

But this morning, as we continue to look at the parables of Jesus Christ we’re going to see how Jesus completely turns that value system on its head.

The parable that we are going to look at this morning is found in Luke chapter 12 – and we’re going to start at verse 13. On this particular day, Jesus is teaching a massive crowd – verse 1 tells us that there were thousands of people there – so many that they were stepping on each other. I don’t know how Jesus ever taught out in the public spaces like that with 1000s of people milling about – I have a hard enough time focusing simply being outside with 50 of you. I can’t imagine the distractions that would come with 1000s of people. And actually, this whole parable begins with one of those distractions. Jesus has just been talking about the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, and how we show fear God not man – and how much God values us and how He will take care of us, when we read in verse 13….

13 Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.” Luke 12:13

Now this really seems like an out of the blue comment – it doesn’t really seem to fit with what Jesus has been talking about at all.  But this guy just shouts out this request to Jesus. And the Bible doesn’t give us any details on his situation – whether there was some unfair dealings going on – whether the brother was in the right or in the wrong. And I guess it doesn’t really matter.

But Jesus recognized that the motive behind his request was based on that value system that we’ve being talking about – where success is measured by our stuff. And so Jesus replies to the man in verse 14. Read the rest of this entry »

Table of contents for Parables of Jesus Christ

  1. The Story of the Seeds
  2. Profitable
  3. Why I Can’t Be a Good Samaritan
  4. The Rich Fool

Why I Can’t Be a Good Samaritan

4 Sep 2017 In: Sermons

Well, believe it or not, the story we just watched comes right out of the Bible – although this video gives it a more modern and slightly more humorous twist. But the general idea is the same. As you might have guessed, this story is a parable.

Now it’s important that we start at the beginning. The video we watched told us the parable, but didn’t really give us all the background as to why Jesus was telling it. So let’s just back it up a little bit to see what’s going on here.

One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”

Luke 10:25

Now let’s stop here for a minute. This is the kick off to this whole story. This all begins when this expert in religious law decides to test Jesus. By this time in His ministry, Jesus had built up quite a following. Just in the chapter before this, we can read the story of how Jesus fed the crowd of 5,000 men with the two fish and five loaves. Jesus’ fame is starting to spread and Jesus is getting to be pretty well known. So this expert in religious law comes to test Jesus. We don’t know what his motives are – whether he wants to prove Jesus is a fraud or whether he really is just curious to know who this Jesus is.

But He asks Him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” And again, we’re not sure if he’s really looking for an answer to the question – or if He just wants to know how Jesus will answer the question. But here’s what Jesus says in verse 26…

26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”

And right off the bat, Jesus turns the tables – now its the expert that must give an answer to his own question. Which he does…

27 The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Luke 10:26-27

Now this is actually a really good answer. It’s two direct quotes from the Old Testament. One is in Deuteronomy 6 and the other is in Leviticus 19. Let me just read those for you:

4 “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. 5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:4-5

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:18

So taking those two verses and kinda mashing them together, the expert of religious law says to Jesus “When you boil it all down, the law of Moses says we inherit eternal life by doing these two things: Loving God and loving your neighbor.”

And believe it or not – Jesus affirms his answer.

28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”

Luke 10:28

And this is where I wish we could watch the Bible on tv instead of just reading it, because I almost suspect that when Jesus said that, He said it a little tongue in cheek. Maybe there was just a hint of a smile on his face when he said that. Because think about it: In order to love God with all of your heart, and all of your soul, all of your strength, and all of your mind – basically to love God with everything you are – AND to love your neighbor just as much as yourself, you’d pretty much have to be perfect, right? No sinful human being can perfectly love God or his neighbor.  And just loving God with 99% of your heart, soul, mind, and strength doesn’t cut it. It’s got to be all of nothing. You’d have to love God and your neighbour perfectly.

So when Jesus says “Right. Do this and you will live”, its kinda like when you’re son tells you that he’s going to build a spaceship out of lego and fly to the moon and you say “Sure, son. Go right ahead. Just don’t be late for supper.”

We know his lego spaceship is not going to take him to the moon – just the same as Jesus knew that no one could do this and live.

Because certainly, if we could love God with 100% of who we are – if we could obey Him 100% of the time, if we could love our neighbors without a single thought of serving ourselves every moment of every day of our lives – then yes, we could earn eternal life. But that’s just the point. We can’t. None of us can. All of us are sinners from birth.

This is exactly what we talked about last week. No matter how good or how bad we look on the outside, inside, everyone of us is a rebellious sinner in need of God’s grace.

“The Lord looks down from heaven on the entire human race; he looks to see if anyone is truly wise, if anyone seeks God. 3 But no, all have turned away; all have become corrupt. No one does good, not a single one!” Psalm 14:2-3

The truth is, we simply cannot “Do this and live.” It’s beyond us. Our sinful nature makes us incapable of this kind of love. And I don’t think this expert in religious law caught that, because instead of admitting his own guilt and admitting that his own sin was keeping him from eternal life, he goes on to try to justify himself. The next verse says…

29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Luke 10:29

It sounds like this guy was pretty sure that he had loved God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength – he just wasn’t sure that he had loved his neighbor like himself. It kinda depended on who exactly his neighbor was. So he asked for some clarification – “And who is my neighbor?” And this is where Jesus tells him the parable of the good Samaritan – that is, the original version of what we just watched in the video. Let me read that original version for you now – verse 30.

30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.

31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.

33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’

36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.

37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”

Luke 10:30-37

Now this isn’t just a story about doing nice things to the people around you. Our culture has kinda caught on to this term “Good Samaritan” and we use it to describe anyone who is being helpful. In fact, the dictionary defines a ‘good samaritan’ as “a charitable or helpful person”.

But this story isn’t just about someone being helpful. Look at the three characters that Jesus uses in his story.

The first person to come across this beat up guy is a priest. Now the priest was supposed to be the most ‘God-like’ person on the planet. He was kinda like God’s representative. In that time, if people wanted to come to God, they had to go through the priest first. So surely, being a representative of God, the priest would be the first guy to help. But He didn’t. In fact, he crossed over to the other side of the road to avoid the man.

Then along came a Levite (or a temple assistant). This guy wasn’t a priest, but he worked at the temple. To put him in today’s context, he might be the sound technician or the music leader or the janitor or the youth pastor. But he would do some job at the temple. So again, surely a fine upstanding guy like this would help his fellow man. But he didn’t either. He walked right on by.

Then finally, along came this Samaritan. This guy was definitely not a priest. He did not work at the temple. He wasn’t even welcome at the temple.

The Samaritans were considered by the Jews to be the most socially unacceptable people in that culture. To help you see why that was, let me give you a quick history review.

You remember how the 12 tribes of Israel split into two nations – the 10 northern tribes kept the name Israel, and the two southern tribes took the name Judah. Well, the 10 northern tribes were conquered by Assyria and part of the Assyrians strategy for dealing with conquered nations was to scatter the people so they couldn’t unite and revolt. So they took most of the surviving Israelites and shipped them off to different parts of the world. They also brought in people from other conquered nations and settled them in the land of the Israelites.

So when these foreigners were brought in, they intermarried with the few remaining Israelites, and the resulting offspring was a half-breed known as the Samaritans – because they lived in and around the city of Samaria. (And I should mention that God had specifically told the Israelites never to intermarry with foreigners.) So now we have a people, disobedient to God, that were half Jewish – half gentiles. In addition, when these foreigners settled in the land of the Israelites and intermarried with them, they also brought with them their own religions and worshipped their own gods. So now, not only did the Samaritans worship God, they also worshipped a host of other gods as well – going totally against God’s command to worship only Him.

That’s why to the Jews, the Samaritans were a contaminated race. They had contaminated their blood-lines. They had contaminated their faith. As a result, the Jews wanted nothing to do with the Samaritans. They hated them. They called them ‘Samaritan dogs’. The would go out of their way to avoid even going through their cities – and if they had to go through a Samaritan city, they would shake the dust off their feet as they were leaving.

And yet, Jesus choose this Samaritan man to be the hero of the story. He was the one who had compassion. He was the one who went out of his way to help the wounded man.

So what’s Jesus trying to say? What’s the point He’s trying to make? What lesson is Jesus teaching this expert in religious law?

Well, take a look at how this Samaritan cared for the wounded man. And as we read these verses, remember – these two guys were enemies. Imagine a little kid – having been continually antagonized by the school bully day after day, and then one day seeing that school bully beat up on the side of the road. That’s kinda the same dynamic here. And if we were that little kid, our first gut reaction might be “Yeah, serves you right!” But not for this Samaritan. verse 33.

“Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him.” Luke 10:33

Did you get that? He felt compassion. Not a sense of justice. Not a sense of glee. But of compassion.

34 “Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them.” Luke 10:34a

He didn’t just feel compassion – he actually acted on his compassion. And he didn’t just tell someone else about it so they could help him – he took it on himself to help. He went over to him, He soothed the man’s wounds and he bandaged them. 34b

“Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him.” Luke 10:34b

Not only did he sooth the man’s wounds and get him all bandaged up – but now this Samaritan interrupts whatever plans he had for the day, puts the man on this donkey, takes him to an inn, and takes care of him. This Samaritan is crazy generous. He put his whole day on hold to take care of this complete stranger – this enemy! He acted like there was nothing more important than showing compassion to this man – who, had he not been beat up on the side of the road, probably wouldn’t have even given that Samaritan the time of day. And that’s not all. He stayed with the man all night. Look at verse 35.

35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’ Luke 10:33-35

The generosity continuous. Some commentators figure that those two silver coins would be enough to care for the man for about a month or more. And not only that, the Samaritan agreed to pay the innkeeper any additional amount that was required. It was like he just handed him his credit card and said – just keep putting this guy’s bill on my card. I’ll pay it all. Who does that sort of stuff? What kind of compassion moves a guy to give that much to a complete stranger?

You know, we give a box of corn flakes to the food bank and think we’ve done well. We give 20 bucks to a family in need and feel we deserve a little pat on the back.

Yet, when was the last time you saw a stranger in need, somebody you didn’t know, better yet somebody who you didn’t even like… and you went over, took care of everything they needed, provided a place for them to stay, and even stayed with them to make sure they were alright, then paid for their care for the next month and said if it’s more than this, I’ll pay for the rest when I come back?  Have you ever done that for anybody? 

Probably not. I mean, you might do that for one of your best buddies, but that’s beyond generous for a stranger – way beyond generous for an enemy.

The only person we do that for on a regular basis – is ourselves. We’ll go that far to take care of our own needs, won’t we. We don’t spare any expense for us. We do everything we can – we take the time, we make the effort – we dedicate all of our resources to making sure that I am well taken care of. We make sure we have a nice house to live in – a nice vehicle to drive – lots of food to eat – a big tv. We take ourselves on vacation. We make sure we have every comfort we need. That’s how we love us, isn’t it?… But how do we love our neighbors? Do we love our neighbors like we love ourselves?

And I don’t just mean once in a while.. I mean all the time. We might show that kind of generosity on occasion, but do we love our neighbor like ourselves every time? Because according the Scriptures, that’s what it takes to earn eternal life.

At the end of the parable Jesus asks the expert in religious law… verse 36.

“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.

37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.” Luke 10:36-37

And I think that last statement – “Go and do the same” falls under the same category as Jesus’ earlier statement “Do this and you will live.”

As sinful human beings, we just can’t do it. We can’t love like that. This limitless, lavish love that Jesus is talking about is beyond our capabilities. Its a love that only God has.

The Bible doesn’t record how the expert in religious law reacts to all this. But if he was honest, I think he would have said something like this.

He would have said, “Jesus, I can’t love like that. I can’t love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. And I certainly can’t love my neighbor the same as I love myself. If that’s what it takes to earn eternal life, then it’s hopeless. I’ll never make it. I just can’t do it.”

And those should be our exact words too. If this is the kind of love that is required of us in order to get into heaven – then none of us would make it. We simply don’t have that kind of love.

Thankfully, God does. It was his limitless, lavish love that allowed His Son Jesus to die on the cross in our place.

Colossians 1:21 says…

“You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions.” Colossians 1:21

And yet, Roman 5:8 says…

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 NIV

We had done nothing to deserve compassion. We had done nothing to deserve mercy. The only thing we deserved was eternal separation from God. Yet out of his limitless, lavish love, God offers us forgiveness, mercy, compassion, and eternal life.

You see, we don’t have to earn eternal life – God offers it to us freely. We need only to repent of our sin – to repent of our lack of love towards God and our lack of love towards others, and to cry out to God for forgiveness and mercy and compassion.

And the good news is, that when we do that, not only does God forgive us, but God also lovingly sends the Holy Spirit to come and dwell within us and his love begins to flow through us. Galatians 5:22 tells us

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23a

God gives us what we can’t produce on our own. He gives us exactly what we need to learn to love God with everything we’ve got and to love our neighbours as ourselves. We don’t naturally have that within us – but empowered by the Holy Spirit – filled with His love – we can actually begin to love our neighbours as much as we love ourselves. We can begin to love God with all of our heart – all of our soul, all of our strength, and all of our mind.

When we put our trust in Jesus, Christ comes and lives his perfect life through us.

“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Galatians 2:20

Where we were disobedient – Jesus obeyed his father perfectly.

Where we were incapable of loving God or others – Jesus loves us perfectly.

When we have entered into that relationship with Christ, we actually can “do this and live.” We can “go and do likewise.” But only, of course, through the power of Christ living in you.

So this morning my goal is not to convince you to go out and love your neighbor more. That’ll actually happen automatically as Christ’s love flows through you. My challenge for you is to simply consider the state of your own relationship with God – because everything stems from that.

So first of all, have you ever entered into that relationship with Christ? Have you acknowledged your own need for salvation? Have you accepted his gift of forgiveness and the abundant life that comes with it? If not, that’s step #1. And I would encourage you to do that, even today.

And secondly, if you have done that – my question for you is: Are you abiding in Him – like a branch connected to the vine – so that the Holy Spirit can produce that fruit in your life? Are you allowing Christ to live in you? Are you choosing to live in obedience to God and what’s He’s said in his Word? Are you daily choosing to follow Him? Because if we refuse to submit to his leading, there will be no fruit in our lives.

We will not be able to love our neighbours as ourselves – we will not be able to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We can only do that as live in a right relationship with Jesus Christ and allow his love to flow through us.

So are you abiding in Him – allowing his love to flow through you?

If you’re not sure – you can test it by looking at how much you love your neighbour. If you love the people around you as much as the Samaritan man loved his neighbour – if you feel compassion and then act on that compassion for people that don’t even like you – that’s a pretty good sign that God’s love is flowing through you – because that’s just how he loves us. And if you don’t have that kind of love, perhaps you still don’t fully understand how much God loves you.

Table of contents for Parables of Jesus Christ

  1. The Story of the Seeds
  2. Profitable
  3. Why I Can’t Be a Good Samaritan
  4. The Rich Fool