We preached Luke 10 and Jesus’ parable of The Good Samaritan this week. It’s a story that Jesus tells in response to a question posed by an expert in Jewish law. This lawyer approaches Jesus to test him. It becomes pretty obvious that this man is quite impressed with himself. In fact, the text tells us that he’s seeking to “justify himself” before Jesus. He recites the two most important commandments – to love God and love your neighbor – and is quite certain that he is satisfactorily keeping both. Instead of allowing the weight of God’s requirements to humble him and crush his self-righteousness, he’s getting ready to pat himself on the back for being such a good person. So Jesus tells a story. By the end of it, the man’s heart is exposed. Instead of loving his neighbor, Jesus reveals the hatred for neighbor that lies within the lawyer’s heart; and in ours as well.
What the parable does is show you your impoverished state in light of God’s law and God’s commands. Who of us loves God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength? And who of us loves our neighbor as ourselves? The kind of love that sees a man lying in a ditch on the side of a road, and takes enormous risks and bears tremendous costs to show mercy. So by the end of the parable, at least spiritually, you find that you’re the one who is poor and in need of mercy. You’re the one lying in a ditch, naked, and dead.
But here’s the gospel. He who should have been your enemy, like a Samaritan to a Jew, sees you lying there…and He has compassion on you. He binds your wounds. He clothes your nakedness. He brings you to life. He makes you whole. And He bears the cost for your salvation.
Only when you’ve experienced such incredible mercy will you become a person of mercy. Only then can you hear Jesus say, “Go and do likewise.”