Sermon: “The Good Neighbor”

Look below the video for my bible study notes and sermon outline.

Establish the text

Select the Pericope: Luke 10:25-37

Brainstorm: What questions/thoughts come to mind?

25 – – Micah 6:8 answers a similar question: What does the LORD require of you? This was a popular question to ask the religious leaders of the time. Rabbinical literature records similar questions to Jesus’ contemporaries.

27 – – Jesus’ answer is similarly paralleled in Rabbinical literature citing Deuteronomy 6:4-5: “Love the LORD your God. Everything else is commentary.” Since all of humanity are children of God, then to love God requires loving the children of God. Thus to love your neighbor as your self is commentary on the first, but as the parable points out, a commentary that is easily forgotten.

28 – – “Do this and you will live.” Looks like if-then soteriology. Of course as Paul points out in Galatians, none can be reckoned as righteous by good works.

29 – – Key word: justify. Can the lawyer’s question be rephrased: What is the minimum that I must do to live? REB focuses the need for justification on asking the question.

30 – – Jerusalem: alt. 740 m, Jerico: alt. 308 m. Still a steep and winding road with plenty of places for an ambush.

31 – – N.B. the priest was going DOWN the road, away from Jerusalem. I recall a commentary that attempted to *justify* the priest’s avoidance of the victim based on maintaining ritual purity. If a priest touched a dead person, he would be defiled and unable to participate in the Temple rituals, a once in a lifetime opportunity. But if the priest was going down the road, away from Jerusalem, what then would his excuse be?

33 – – Samaritans were a rival Yawistic cult living north of Jerusalem. J.L. Kelso (Zondervan Pictoral Encyclopedia of the Bible) notes: 1. the Samaritans were not officially excommunicated by the Jews until A.D. 300. 2. As late as 2 cent. A.D. Samaritans were compared favorably with the Saducees by rabbis. Don’t demonize the Samaritan.

34 – – The Samaritan goes to significant expense, but within his capabilities, for a stranger from whom he might not expect reimbursement. 2 denarii = 2 days wages.

37 – – What does it mean to show mercy today? Does contributing taxes for welfare and Medicare/Medicaid justify us before God?

E. Reconsider where the text begins and ends: What got chopped out?

The NRSV starts v. 25 “Just then a lawyer stood up …” Thus this is a continuation of the preceding scene. The preceding scene was the return of the 70 and their rejoicing at the submission of evil spirits to their ministry. Jesus counsels the disciples privately that many “desire to see what you see, but did not see it, and hear what you hear, but did not hear it.” Perhaps, the lawyer represents those who desire to see and to hear.

II. Literary Study.

A. What is the history of the text? Who wrote it? When? In what social context? What Historical/Religious/Sociological factors influenced its writing?

Written by ‘Luke’ to a Greek friend based on collections from various sources.
The passage is an illustration of a teaching.

B. What parallel passages exist? How do they differ? How does this author’s intent differ from other authors? Is the text used elsewhere?

Matthew 22:35-40 rephrases the lawyer’s question as which is the greatest commandment.

C. Review syntax/meanings of critical words, phrases, idioms

25 – – kai idou — Blass and Debrunner (#442(7))classify this as a Semanticism. The Hebrew “hineh” is used for expressions pointing to a particular person, e.g. Gen 18:9 “Behold your wife”, 1 Sam 3:4 “Here I am.”; to introduce predication. Thus I agree with the NRSV although other translations render this as “On one occasion …”

33 – – esplagcvisqh — Aorist Passive indicative to be filled with compassion/pity. Is this a Divine passive?

37 – – meta — the Samaritan provided mercy WITH the victim. Although ‘on’ is an alternate translation, ‘with’ emphasizes that mercy requires two participants. Many translations ignore this preposition or use ‘on’.

D. What is the literary style of the text? And how does it affect the reading? What does a poetic form do to the meaning? Lament/Praise/Petition? Any subtle variations in the repetitions? What is emphasized/minimized by the repetition?

Parables are noted for making every word count and condensing much theological discussion into as few words as possible with many potential lessons from one illustration: What does the Lord require?, piety versus compassion, who is my neighbor?

III. Question the text.

A. Observe the passage from the perspective of its characters.

Consider the excuses that the priest and the Levite may have made for not attending to the needs of the victim: “I don’t know what to do for him.” “He may be dead anyway. Why bother?” “Someone else will take care of him.” “I need to do X. So I can’t stop.” “The robbers might still be near.” “He may be pretending to be beaten so that his friends will attack me when I stop to help him.”

Consider the reasons for the Samaritan: “If I don’t help, who will?” “I would want some one to stop, if this were me, even if they could only hold my hand.” “This may be one of my clients.” “God is counting on me to do this.”

C. What is the center of gravity of the text? Where was the author heading? What question did the author intend to answer? What is the emotional center of the text? What music would it call for?

Center of Gravity: Who is my neighbor? What does the law mean by: “love your neighbor as yourself”? What do the disciples see and hear that others did not see nor hear?

D. Look for conflict: stated or implied.

Dogmatic piety (of priest and Levite) versus love of neighbor, or ritual purity versus practical theology. What am I capable of doing?

IV. What do the commentaries have to say about the text?

Fred B. Cradock (Interpretation: Luke) notes the relationship between 10:23-24 and vv. 25-37. He entitles the section covering this pericope and the next “Two stories about hearing and not hearing.” I might call this section more specifically about not seeing; as the priest and the Levite both do not see the victim as a potential opportunity to love God.

Perry H. Biddle, Jr. (Preaching the Lectionary) centers the story on the difference between: Who must I include/exclude as my neighbor? versus To whom am I a neighbor? The difference is between ceremony and the nature of compassionate living.

J.A. Findlay (Abingdon Bible Commentary) notes the artificiality of the Church Fathers’ allegorizing this pericope: Jesus is the Samaritan (c.f. John 8:48), the dangerous road is his journey to Jerusalem, the innkeeper is the Church, the two denarii are the two Sacraments, and the pledge to return to the inn an announcement of the Second Coming. Or is this perhaps a way of teaching ecclesiology?

V. With respect to the hearers (including the preacher), What does this text want to say and do?

A. What is the theological meaning of the verses?

We must be careful not to miss opportunities to minister, which is the focus of Christ’s disciples who already see and hear that they are saved, rather than worrying about what is necessary to be saved.

B. Focus Statement: Central, controlling, unifying theme.

We often choose not to see opportunities for ministry around us because of preconceived notions of what God expects us to do, but if we are instead open to God working in every event, and respond in thanks for having received God’s grace, we will see many opportunities to minister to God’s children and thereby express our love for what God has done for us. What is Jesus doing right here and right now? And How might I work with Jesus right here and right now?

C. Function Statement: What change in the hearer?

Encourage the hearers to be more aware of opportunities to minister in response to the grace already received from God.

VI. Sermon Outline

Bible

Exegesis

Illustration

Bullet

And then, an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. … “And who is my neighbor?”

Mark 12 – Teacher asks for greatest commandment then agrees
loving God & neighbor >> offerings

Jesus: “Not far from kingdom of heaven” ← about 3 – 6 feet!

Test, trick answer: None of the above

Trick question; Trick answer

31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

Dangers lurking in shadows?

Cultural prohibitions.

Busy “saving the world”

– Important committees meetings

– Family obligations

– Busy

Not about clergy or ritual

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he was filled with compassion. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own animal, took him to an inn and took care of him.

Heroes of medicine:

EMT – Spends ~ hour lifting victim from the road – vital signs, perhaps a name, NOT father of three sons …

Trauma team spends an hour or two: fractures to set,

Nurses pop in an out for a few hours: IV to change, more vital signs,

No time for listening to family stories

But are these neighbors?

35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying: ‘Look after him, and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

Healing takes time: changing bandages, clothing soiled after meals, diapers, befriending toxic people.

listening to stories.

Touch that is more than treatment.

Visiting MIL interrupted by “friend” who in five minutes had inflicted her multitude of woes on us. ← LPN came in, hugged this “friend” and told her how much she had been missed. Instantly change woes to a smile.

Attending to the person beyond task

Neighboring: persistent touch

“The one who had mercy with him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Listen to people’s stories

Safe guard their slivers of joy.

& you will find yourself within 3 – 6 feet of the kingdom of heaven.

Doing mercy takes time.

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