Luke Series- Session 14- Rules, Neighbors, and Salvation?!

Session 14- Rules, Neighbors and Salvation?!

Luke 10:25-37

Session Resources:

Luke Series- Session 14- Luke 10 25-37

Subject: Salvation

Central Theme: Rules and Salvation

Objective Statement:  We can see that we cannot be saved by keeping rules when we understand the three questions asked surrounding the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Keyword: Questions

Question 1- What shall I do to inherit eternal life?

Question 2- Who is my neighbor?

Question 3- Which one was the neighbor?

Introduction:

Connection:

  • Have you ever known anyone that really likes rules?
  • The oldest kid in the family, I have noticed, likes to be the enforcer of rules.
  • In our family we have 2 older daughters and our poor son has to deal with having what amounts to three moms at home always trying to tell him what to do.
  • When I was in college I took a course in the book of Proverbs. In the class there were two class clown type guys.  There was also a older student who was both an RA (resident assistant in charge of a floor of guys in the dorms) and a security guard.  Needless to say the guy like rules and the class clowns did not, nor did the two get along.  At our college at the time we were supposed to wear ties to class, and the RA Security guard would wear his security outfit and just add the tie- something that made the class clowns laugh at him all the more.  One day in class the professor asked us to choose a word to use from Proverbs about someone else in the class. Some of the girls chose words like “grace” or “love” or “kind” and picked other girls in the class.  When it got to one of the class clowns, he said (Names have been changed to protect the guilty). “I pick Sam, and the word I choose is JUSTICE.  When I see Sam I think JUSTICE.”

Tension:

  • We all know those people who are really into rules. Maybe some of you are like that.
  • Yet others are more free spirited, always looking to get away with stuff.
  • Rules are necessary. Without rules there would be chaos.
  • And yet rules cannot do everything.
  • When it comes to world religions there are really two kinds of religions.
  • Most religions in the world teach that the way to be right with God, or with the gods, or just to be ok when you die, or to have a nice life, is just to keep a certain set of rules. If you do the right things more than you do the wrong things then you’ll be good.  “Good people” do good things and will be ok when they die.
  • Christianity teaches something drastically different. It teaches that no one is really good.
  • It teaches that we can not be saved by keeping the rules.
  • In today’s text we find ourselves learning about a conversation that Jesus had with a guy who really liked rules.
  • Jesus engages this guy in a conversation that includes three difference questions.
  • And by understanding the ramifications of what these questions mean, we can see that rules can not save us.
  • Now this is a really important conversation, because people are literally going to spend eternity in heaven or hell based on their understanding of how salvation works. You should listen because even if you understand this concept, there are those around you who don’t, and they need to know this truth.

We can see that we cannot be saved by keeping rules when we understand the three questions asked surrounding the parable of the Good Samaritan.

 

Question 1- What shall I do to inherit eternal life?

 

Explanation:

(25)  And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

  • First, let us look at who is speaking here. There is “a certain lawyer”. This would have been a person who spent his life studying the law.  Some have said it is a kind of scribe who is a supposed expert in the law.
  • Next, notice that He is talking to Jesus, and inherent in the statement is a motivation. The scripture says that he “tempted him”. The motivation of the lawyer was not noble.  He was not seeking answers sincerely.  He was trying to “get something over” on Jesus.  When people try to manipulate Jesus it never goes well in terms of accomplishing what they desire.
  • Now with the motivation of the lawyer fully understood, let’s look at the question:  “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”. This is a question that Jesus is asked on other occasions.  Is there something that can “be done” to “inherit” or merit eternal life?  We know now that there is nothing we can do to inherit eternal life.  Jesus responds with a question.

(26)  He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?

  • Jesus answers.  “You read the scripture.  What does it say?”. This is an often used response of Jesus.  He often asked questions of questioners.  He does it here yet again.
  • His question here is also a good pattern for us. When we have a question, or are asked  question, the driving force behind getting an answer should be “what does the Bible say?”

(27)  And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

  • This lawyer did “know” the scripture well. He gave a good answer that sums up the law and the prophets.  Love God, and love people.  Love God first, and put people at the same level of care and concern that you give to yourself.  Love God with everything you possess- heart, soul, mind and strength, and make the concerns of others your chief concern.
  • Isn’t this a good way to summarize the 10 commandments.  The first 4 commandments deal with God, the last 6 with others.  Loving God looks like at least keeping the first 4, and loving my neighbor means at least keeping the last 6.

(28)  And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

  • Jesus gives a right answer to the lawyer.  If this man were to perfectly keep these two commands, He would inherit eternal life.
  • What is the problem with this prescription?
  • There is no way we can do this perfectly. This lawyer had already put himself ahead of God and others.  He had already violated the law, and therefore could not inherit eternal life.  He had already done it in this circumstance because the whole line of questioning here is to “tempt Jesus”.  He does not have a care and concern for Jesus.  He wants to fight him.  He is violating the law at this very moment.

Application:

God’s will and desire for our lives is to put Him first with our entire being, and to put the concerns of others ahead of our own.  The only way we can do that consistently is for God to come and live in us and work through us.  On our own we cannot do this.  It takes a move of the Spirit of God in us.

  • This means there really is nothing we can do to “inherit eternal life” because each of us are sinners in nature and in practice. We have violated this law the moment we sin in thought or deed from an early age.  We need God’s mercy and grace to forgive us, and we need God’s Spirit to empower us to do His will.

We can see that we cannot be saved by keeping rules when we understand the three questions asked surrounding the parable of the Good Samaritan.

 

Question 1- What shall I do to inherit eternal life?

Question 2- Who is my neighbor?

 

(29)  But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

Explanation:

  • After Jesus had allowed the man to answer His own question and affirmed the correctness of His answer, the man asks another question.  Now remember, the answer to the question “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” was “to love God with everything I am and put  my neighbors needs ahead of my own”.  The answer might well be given as “to be perfect in your relationship to God and others consistently in every circumstance”.
  • What should be the response to that kind of an answer? “I can’t. I haven’t.  What now?  Please, help?!”
  • Certainly, there must be an admission of the fact that we have violated God’s law.  The natural next question should be, “If I have broken that, how do I receive eternal life?  There is no way I can earn it if those are God’s expectations.”
  • Certainly, the lawyer was in a good circumstance, seeing that He was standing in front of God in the flesh. Yet we already know He was at odds with the One who could help him.  He was asking these lines of questions to “tempt” Jesus, the very one that could forgive Him.
  • But instead of crying out for mercy after admitting He could not keep this law, the man did what so many do when faced with their own guilt.  He tried to justify himself. Notice the scripture says here, “But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”.
  • It is almost as if he is asking for a loophole.  Certainly in the man’s thinking there were certain kinds of people for which he didn’t have to “love as he loved himself.”  In his own mind there are people like gentiles, Samaritans,  and sinners that He didn’t have to love like He loved Himself.

Application:

  • In the face of our own sin, we have a choice.  We can admit our guilt, confess it to God and others, and receive their forgiveness, or we can  seek to justify our actions and try to convince ourselves and others why our sin isn’t really that sinful.
  • One of these strategies ends in our forgiveness.  The other does not. The Bible is very clear.

(9)  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

Explanation:

  • Jesus continues this exchange answering the man’s question, “And who is my neighbor?”.
  • The point of the exchange for Jesus though is made clear by what we just understood to be the context and the nature of the story. Jesus is trying to say something about the law, and trying to help the man understand the utter sinfulness that keeps him from God.
  • Look at Jesus’ answer.

(30)  And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

  • The story is about “a certain man”.  Jesus does not say what nationality this man is.  Jesus seems to keep him anonymous on purpose.  He is just a human being. This “certain man” was a human being of unknown origin, social status, and religious status.  He is just a human being in need.
  • Traveling in that day, especially alone, could be quite dangerous.  Going from Jerusalem would mean you are going down in elevation.  The terrain was rough and it was known for having thieves.

 

  • These theives had come upon him.  You can imagine they took anything of value.  We know they took his clothes.
  • Notice this man’s condition.  He is naked, wounded, and dying.  In this state there would have been an urgency needed to help his condition.
  • We are then introduced to some who come that can respond.

(31)  And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

  • This man is on the side of the road left for dead. The priest comes.  A priest was one who was supposed to mediate on behalf of the people to God.  He was someone who knows the scripture.  To put this in the context of the question being asked, the priest knows the biblical prescription to “love your neighbor as yourself.”  He sees the man.  To see the man in this state at all is to see his need.
  • So, what is his response?  He passes by the man. He does nothing.
  • What would be the reasons why the priest would not do anything?  Would they be ceremonial because he perceives the man as unclean?  Would his reasons be a matter of his own priorities?  Does he think his business is more important than the business of helping this man? Any such motivation is trivial because this is a conjectured story.  It is a parable. The point is that the priest who would know that he should do something, or who has conjectured that he doesn’t have to do anything, doesn’t do anything.
  • We see a second person come by with the opportunity to respond.

(32)  And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.

  • The next person to come by is someone who also helped in the temple.  The Levites were helpers in the temple.
  • He at least pauses long enough to look but makes the same decision as the priest. He ends up leaving and doing nothing for the man.
  • Both of these men were dedicated to their system of religion.  Both of these men would have been seen as closer to God than others.  Both of them saw the need.  Yet both of them did nothing about it.  It may have been that their own self-importance regarding that system caused them to feel as though they were better than the man and would be interfering in God’s judgement of him.  Maybe they felt as though their time was more valuable in pursuit of their religious roles than what they could do for this person causing them to choose the ceremonial over the person.
  • Their reasoning doesn’t really matter to the man. He just knows no love from them.

 

Application:

  • Before we get too high and mighty ourselves, we must make sure we identify where we have acted like these religious people.  James 4:17 tells us an important truth:

(17)  Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

James 4:17

  • Has there ever been a time where we have had the opportunity to do good and we do not take it.  Have we ever made the mistake of neglecting witness for Christ because we thought our agenda, schedule, priorities and time were more important?
  • I know I have done this.
  • We must ask God to give us eyes to see, and hearts for people.  May our own agenda be God’s agenda for us, putting the needs of others ahead of our own.
  • The greatest need someone has is their spiritual need, and yet a physical need may be an open door to us helping them both physically and spiritually.

Response:

  • To see a need that you can do something about is to have a responsibility at some level.  What needs are being placed in front of you today?

Explanation:

(33)  But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,

  • Samaritans were seen as half-breeds. They were part Jewish and part gentile.  They were hated by the Jews.  In the context of this story, they would have not been “neighbors” according to the Jewish definition.
  • There were 2 simliarites, and 1 difference in the behavior of the Priest, the Levite, and the Samaritan. All three men passed the man in need.  All three men saw the need.  Only one did anything about it.  When the priest and Levite saw the man, they moved on.  When the Samaritan saw the man “he had compassion on him”.

(34)  And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

  • He went to him.  The Priest and the Levite avoided him. The Samaritan went to him.
  • Look at the work compassion compelled. See the verbs, the actions, the man took. What did love look like?
    • “went”
    • “bound up”
    • “pouring”
    • “Set”
    • “brought”
    • “took care”
  • The man took the time to help the man’s physical body.  The compassion that he had for the man he did not know cost him energy. It cost him time.
  • It also cost him financially.

(35)  And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

  • I read that archeologist had found a sign from an inn in the same period that mentioned 1/32 of a denarion, the word translated “pence” here.  Some have then estimated that this was about two months of rent.
  • The Samaritan was also somewhat setting himself up for a further cost. He was open to being taken advantage of by the inn keeper. “Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more…I will repay.”
  • Remember the context of the story.  There were two questions asked of Jesus by the lawyer.
  • Question #1- What must I do to inherit eternal life? Answer: Perfectly love God and your neighbor.
    • The response to that should have been, “I haven’t done that, so I can’t. How to I receive eternal life? How can I be forgiven?  This is not the response.  The response is a second question given with the intention of justifying the lawyer.
  • Question #2- Who is my neighbor? Answer: Literally anyone you have access to in your life.
    • God’s expectation is that you love everyone like this man loved the Samaritan.  This story is intended as devastating news to shatter this man’s self-righteousness.  The Priest and the Levite are so self-deceived that they have rationalized not loving their neighbor, even though they know what the scripture requires.
  • The scripture already taught them to prioritize love of people over the ceremonial.

 

(6)  Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?  (7)  Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? (8)  He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Micah 6:6-8

  • The lawyer thought that His love for God was adequate.  The lawyer thought that He was not required to love those who he deemed as unworthy of his love.  The lawyer thought that He did not need forgiveness.  The lawyer certainly did not see Jesus as the person to whom He should go for forgiveness.  Jesus is trying to help the man see the utter lostness of his condition and He cannot see it.

Application:

  • The point of this passage is not to promote simple do-goodedness.  The point of this passage is not to just help us identify who are neighbor is. The point of this passage is to help us to understand that we do not love the way God requires, and that for us to do that with every one of our neighbors God must do it in us and through us.  Who loves everyone like the Samaritan loved this man? Only Jesus.  We need forgiveness and God’s Spirit in us to help us to begin to love this way.

We can see that we cannot be saved by keeping rules when we understand the three questions asked surrounding the parable of the Good Samaritan.

 

Question 1- What shall I do to inherit eternal life?

Question 2- Who is my neighbor?

Question 3- Which one was the neighbor?

 

Explanation:

  • Here comes the question for which the whole story was told.  Which now of these three…was the neighbor to the man?

(36)  Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?

  • Notice then how the lawyer, from the same class as the priest and Levite, answered the question.
  • The three options for an answer were the priest, the Levite, and the Samaritan.  This is what Jesus called them in the story.
  • The man doesn’t choose Jesus’ vocabulary.

(37)  And he said, He that shewed mercy on him.

  • He does not call him the Samaritan.  He calls him “he that shewed mercy on him.”  It may be reading between the lines, but it is almost as if he does not want to say the word “Samaritan”.  Yet, he cannot deny the facts of the story.  The one who was the neighbor to him was the Samaritan.
  • The truth is that the lawyer has not loved like that.  He has not loved God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength.  He has not loved His neighbors as he loves himself.  He cannot go and do likewise in such a way that he could earn eternal life.
  • This is his answer and then Jesus tells him to go and do likewise.

Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

  • “Go and do thou likewise” hangs out there like an unresolved chord needing resolution.  The man must plead “I can’t!  I have not!  Help me!  Forgive me!  I need mercy.  I need eternal life.  I need God’s help to love like that.”  If the lawyer’s attitude did not change from seeking to justify himself (vs. 29), he walked away rejecting Jesus and thinking that he was ok.

Conclusion:

Application:

  • Certainly, there is an application to us regarding who our neighbor is.  Our neighbor is everyone that we can help.  We are responsible for the wellbeing of those around us at some level.  There is no person which we should not love when we have the chance.
  • But to say that this is the main point is to miss the point.  The main point is that we cannot do this on our own.  We cannot love God and love others more than ourselves on our own.  We have broken God’s law, and we need God’s mercy to forgive us, as well as God’s power to help us to do this.
  • This is why Jesus came.  He loved God perfectly and loved others perfectly.

 

John 3:16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

  • Jesus loved His neighbor perfectly. Jesus loved the neighbor that was His enemy.

Romans 5:8-11  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  (9)  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.  (10)  For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.  (11)  And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

 

  • He kept the law we could not keep, and then paid the price we could not pay so that we can be forgiven, and then indwelt by the Holy Spirit who then empowers us to love God and others from the heart.

 

Response:

  • Confess, repent and trust in Christ.
  • Ask God to help you love like He loves!

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