We are going to be focusing on two aspects of Luke 10. The first is the parable of the good Samaritan. I hope people realize as they read the parable that Samaritans and Jews had nothing in common, and in fact they despised each other. So when a story is told of a man walking along a path who is beaten and robbed and left for dead people would hear it and know how realistic of a scenario it really was. The road from Nazareth to Jerusalem crossed through the territory of Samaria. As a result people sometimes took the more circuitous and yet safer route that went West. Jesus’ story has a Jewish man who was probably in a hurry who took the shorter route, but the more dangerous one. As he was walking alone he was mugged. The aftermath of the attack leaves him on the road left for dead. We then see a priest taking that same road as well as a Levite, who was also in the priestly class. They walked right by him and paid no attention to him. They were busy, they had a lot to do, and maybe they thought it was an ambush.
I will never forget driving with my dad and two of my brothers from Atlantic City, New Jersey all the way to Tegucigalpa, Honduras. This trip took us through Mexico. Many of the roads seemed like they were out in the middle of nowhere, and could have been very dangerous. There was one long road with desert on either side where a car was on fire and a person was lying on the shoulder of the road. My dad said, “Hang on boys”, and we sped right past the fire and the person on the side of the road without stopping. As we passed we saw a group of 5 or 6 men waiting to see if we would stop and then they would ambush us. It was an incredibly vivid lesson for me. There were probably very good reasons for why the priest and the Levite didn’t stop. But the point is that the Samaritan, the hated one, the one who had nothing to do with Jews, did stop.
Not only did he stop but he took the hurt man to a hospital and paid the ER bill and told the doctors that if he needed a special dinner or anything at all that they should send the bill to him. This is an incredibly powerful story. The question Jesus is answering is: Who is my neighbor? It has nothing to do with geography. It has nothing to do with any alliances. It only has to do with action. Whoever does the will of the father is the neighbor. Whoever loves God and loves the person who is in their midst, that is the neighbor. What a great lesson for all of us.
The second story is not a parable but a life of event where the sisters Mary and Martha, who happen to be the sisters of Lazarus, you know, the one that Jesus raises from the dead, are having a bit of a squabble. Mary is just sitting at Jesus’ feet while there is work to be done. Martha, who I’m guessing is the oldest one, was arranging everything and making sure that everything is in place. Jesus’ point is not that you should be slothful, but rather that you should have your priorities right. It is important to be industrious and to have the best work ethic out of anyone around you. But you cannot miss the presence of God in your life for the sake of propriety or for the sake of working to the degree where you are trying to show how hard of a worker you are. Some great lessons for all of us. Who is my neighbor? Anyone who is need, and not anyone who is allied with us just for the sake of the fact that we are similar or have some things in common. What are my priorities? To love God in the here and now.