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Wednesday—Make the World a Better Place: Love Others
Big Point: Answering the higher calling to make the world a better place requires us to love our neighbors as ourselves—including the least in society.
In the time of Jesus, the road from Jerusalem to Jericho was notorious for danger and difficulty, and was known as the “Way of Blood” because “of the blood which is often shed there by robbers.” Martin Luther King, Jr., in his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, on the day before his death, described the road as follows: “I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem. We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho. And as soon as we got on that road I said to my wife, “I can see why Jesus used this as the setting for his parable.” It’s a winding, meandering road. It’s really conducive for ambushing. You start out in Jerusalem, which is about 1,200ft above sea level [actually about 2,100ft]. And by the time you get down to Jericho 15-20 minutes later, you’re about 22ft below sea level [really 846ft]. That’s a dangerous road.
In the days of Jesus it came to be known as the “Bloody Pass.” And you know, it’s possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. Or it’s possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking, and he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the priest and the Levite probably asked was, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” However, King continues: But then the Good Samaritan came by, and he reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”
Defining “Neighbor” …“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.” …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.” (Luke 10:29-37, ESV)
READ…What does the Bible say?
Matthew 25:40 (New Living Translation)
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
THINK…Find the answers
The Good Samaritan extended humble compassion and generosity; while the “religious” folk were self-serving. How do you suppose the passers-by justified their behavior to themselves?
After reading Matthew 25:40, why do you think it’s the same as helping the King, when we help each other?
Looking back at your last answer, if you really believe that to be true, how is that “truth” evidenced in your own life? (Remember, we DO that which we truly believe, and the rest is just rhetoric.)
Jesus said, “…go and do the same.” What was he referring to, and what should that look like in our real, everyday, “not-quitting-my-full-time-job”, world?
LIVE…What will you do now?
Jesus made the point in his parable that the three men had come into contact with the victim while they were on their way to go do something else. None of them were traveling with the purpose of finding someone in need. Notice also that Jesus didn’t condemn the Good Samaritan for enlisting help when he needed it. Have you ever not reached out to someone in need because you were discouraged by either your ‘schedule’ or your ‘limited resources’ (personal and/or financial)?
How can, and should, faith and obedience play a role in our loving our neighbors and the least of these?
PRAY…God, What do You want me to know & do?
Like King David, ask God “to create in you a clean heart and to renew a right spirit within you.” As you notice the pain and suffering of others, ask Him to fill you too with humble compassion and generosity in order to serve those He has put in your path. Pray that faith will overcome any fears or doubts trying to stop you from “doing the good works prepared for you long ago.”
Daily Bible Reading Commentary: Leviticus 19-21
19:1-37 Practical applications of holy conduct in society.
19:1 This basic statement, which gives the reason for holy living among God’s people, is the central theme in Leviticus. Israel had been called to be a holy nation, and God’s perfect, holy character was to be the model for the Israelites to live by.
19:3 This amplifies the fifth commandment to honor one’s father and mother.
19:3,4 In addition to the fifth commandment, the fourth, the first and the second were commanded as holy behavior also.
19:18 FORGET ABOUT THE WRONG THINGS PEOPLE DO TO YOU, AND DO NOT TRY TO GET EVEN. LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOU LOVE YOURSELF. I AM THE LORD. (CEV) *How fitting for today’s study!
19:32 Showing respect for the older man acknowledged God’s blessing of long life and the wisdom that comes with it.
20:1-7 Discusses capital and other grave crimes. Many of the same issues from ch. 18 & 19 are elaborated, with emphasis on the penalty paid for the violation.
20:5,6 “Cut off…” This means to kill, or put to death.
20:10-21 Punishments for violating the prohibitions of sexual sins from ch. 18.
20:22 God repeatedly told Israel that remaining in the land required obedience to the Mosaic covenant. Failure to do so would mean their removal from the land.
21:1-24 Priests were called to a higher standard of holiness than everyone else.
21:7,8 The priest was allowed to marry, but only in the purest of circumstances. A holy marriage union pictured the holy union between God and His people.