home > Pastor’s Desk > 2022 > August 19th > The Good Samaritan and the Inn-Keeper

The Good Samaritan and The Inn-Keeper

Based on an address given to the members of the Tasmanian House of Representatives and the members of the Tasmanian Legislative Council at the official opening of the Third Session of the Fiftieth Tasmanian Parliament, delivered on Tuesday August 16th in St. David’s Cathedral, Hobart.

TWELVE GROWS TO SEVENTY-TWO

¶ After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of Him,
two by two, into every town and place where He Himself was about to go.
Luke 10:1

Dr Andrew Corbett preaching at St David's Cathedral, HobartJesus’ followers had grown from His original twelve disciples to another sixty followers. As Christ prepared for His impending death which would occur in a matter of weeks, He addressed these seventy-two disciples giving them clear instructions on their first preaching expedition. But among this loyal band there was someone who had snuck in as a spy sent from the leaders of the Temple on a mission to find evidence to justify their bitter determination to murder Jesus! (Jerusalem’s religious leaders had been unsuccessful in their previous attempts to “catch” Jesus say or do something sinful. Note also Matt. 22:15; Mark 3:2; 12:13; Luke 11:53-54; 20:20; John 8:6.) This spy was described by Luke as a lawyer — not the “Yes your Honour” sort of lawyer, but someone who was probably an off-duty priest who would been called upon by enquirers coming to the Temple seeking clarification on how to truly obey GOD. And as the recently commissioned seventy-two disciples had returned from their preaching expeditions in the nearby towns and villages they reported the astounding results of their ministries there (Lk. 10:17). Jesus the Christ responded, “turning to the disciples he said privately, ‘Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.’” This is when the intruding priest-lawyer made his move:

¶ And behold, a lawyer stood up to put Him to the test, saying,
“Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”
Luke 10:25-26

 

WHAT JESUS SAID TO THE SEVENTY-TWO

The lawyer-priest thought he was being clever setting what he thought was a trap for Jesus. But as he discovered, a person’s true intelligence is measured not just by what they know, but by the kind of questions they ask. His question to Jesus met with an immediate question from the Christ. The lawyer’s question was actually the best question anyone could have asked the Lord. Yet it soon became apparent that he himself did not even understand the question he was asking.

The concept of everlasting life was introduced into Jewish thinking in the writings of the Prophet Daniel

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,
some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Daniel 12:2

This is the question embedded into every human soul. It is asked in different forms (such as, ‘What is the meaning of life?’ ‘Is there a point to my life?’ ‘How can I be truly happy?’ ‘What happens to me after I die?’) and it is clumsily answered in even more forms (such as, ‘Life is all about the now…When you die you just go six-feet under and that’s it…God, if there is a god, just wants you to be good…). The lawyer-priest’s question was far more profound than he realised. As he asked it there were seventy-two people listening in on this exchange between this spy whose question was an attempted means to entrap Christ. Perhaps to his surprise Jesus immediately asked him a question which would soon lead to this priest-lawyer’s heart being exposed for all to see.

And he answered, “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 neighbour as yourself.”
And He said to him,
“You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
Luke 10:27-28

If Jesus had given the first half of His response to the religious-lawyer that may have been the end of their conversation. But the conjunction to the first half of His response — do this, and you will live — put the legalist on the back foot. Jesus had just exposed the very obstacle that was deep in his spiritually dead soul that was hindering him from obtaining the eternal life that he had originally enquired about. The lawyer had a head-knowledge of what God required of those who sought to live righteously when he cited Deuteronomy 6:4 and Leviticus 19:18 in his answer to Jesus — but he did not have this as a heart-knowledge resulting in genuine compassion for others. Sensing the gaze of the seventy-two onlookers he now sought to justify himself.

¶ But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus,
“And who is my neighbour?”
Luke 10:29

WHO IS MY NEIGHBOUR?

The Jewish leaders had a very strict understanding of who God accepted and who God rejected. Obviously, they taught, God had accepted the Jews as His favourite – particularly Jewish men. Jewish women were sort of accepted, but only as second-class members of God’s people. This obviously also meant that unless a gentile (a non-Jew) converted to Judaism they could not be accepted by God. Therefore, God rejected all gentiles — and He especially rejected Roman gentiles — but He reserved His ultimate rejection for Samaritans!

When the lawyer-priest asked a question back at Christ, “Who is my neighbour?” he may have naively thought that he had asked Jesus a “Gotchya!” question. But Christ exposed the lawyer’s bigotry with a great deal of tenderness by telling one of His greatest parables not just to the priest-lawyer but also the seventy-two disciples who were listening intently to this dramatic exchange.

 

WHEN HE SAW HIM, HE HAD COMPASSION

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.
Luke 10:30 ESV

In the original Greek of Luke 10:30 it describes the man (anthropos) with a little Greek work tis which means a certain man. He is not identified as a Jew, or a Greek, or a Gentile. We are not told what his skin colour was. We are not told his age. We are not told his social-class. We are not told what his Muttersprache (mother-tongue) was. He is identified by Christ with the identity that is common to all people because the Greek word anthropos is also the Greek word for human being – male or female. People do not need another identifying label to be immeasurably valuable other than the one we all share — human being.

This person was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho even though he was heading north. In one sense he was going down because Jerusalem is 2,500 feet above sea-level and Jericho, in the Jordan Valley, is 800 feet below sea-level. But in another sense, Jews regarded Jerusalem as the holy City that was the dwelling place of God on earth. Yet just outside the precincts of this supposedly holy territory was a stretch of road leading to Jericho that had become notoriously dangerous due to the thieves and robbers who preyed on its travellers. The lawyer was expecting Jesus to answer his question of “who” was his neighbour but instead Christ answers the question that the lawyer should have asked.

 

WHEN THEY SAW HIM, THEY DID NOT HAVE COMPASSION

Christ’s story begins a with a priest travelling down that same road. This was probably more pointed that us modern readers might immediately appreciate. The lawyer, who was probably a priest, could have injected at this point in the story by pointing out that since the man was “half dead” this gave justification for the priest to avoid such a man since a priest was not permitted to have contact with a dead person while on temple duty. But the priest in this story is not travelling to Jerusalem. He was clearly off-duty because he was travelling down the road to Jericho. And even the next character in this story had no excuse, because he too was travelling down this road.

 

WHEN THE SAMARITAN SAW HIM, HE HAD COMPASSION ON THE JEWISH MAN

The scandalous twist in Christ’s story comes when He describes a Samaritan — a Samaritan — as the righteous hero! This Samaritan was a businessman. He had places to be and people to see. Yet, despite his pressing commitments he stopped to tend to this severely beaten and wounded man – who was probably a Jew! He disinfected the man’s wounds by pouring wine over them. He cleaned away the blood from the many gashes the man had suffered and then applied oil to man’s wounds to stop the bleeding and reduce the swelling to enable the healing process to begin to mend. And while he could have thought that he had now done enough, he then placed the man on his donkey and carried him to an inn (which were themselves often dangerous places and would not have batted an eye-lid to extort a visiting Samaritan) where he remained the night taking care of the beaten man and then took from his purse two denarii to pay the inn-keeper the equivalent of two days wages for him to care for the beaten traveller – and promised to pay whatever else was needed when he returned.

HE ENTRUSTED THE INN-KEEPER TO CARE FOR THE HURTING AND BROKEN MAN

Jesus asked the lawyer-priest which of the three showed compassion for the abused man (Luke 10:36). The story that Jesus told not only answered the lawyer’s question- Who is my neighbour? It answered the greater question embedded in the lawyer’s original answer which he had cited from Leviticus 19:18, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” The question the priest-lawyer should have asked was not the Who is in? and Who is out? question, but, How can I obey Leviticus 19:18 by truly obeying this command to love my neighbour?

And while Jesus highlighted three characters in this story, there is a fourth character who is worth considering especially considering the audience to this exchange was the seventy-two disciples who would go on to become the founding members of the redeemed community—theChurch—that Christ was about to establish.

Each of the characters in this story reveal something about God’s heart for people. The Priest character represented heartless religion that was all about outward show and the approval of people. The Levite, who served within the Temple as assistants to the Priests represented the religiously devout who take care of the day-to-day things pertaining to a worship service and its ceremonies, yet are so caught up in their religious duties that they no longer truly see hurting people who need their care. The Samaritan was a member of what the Jews considered to be justifiably the most despised people on the planet. There are striking similarities between the Samaritan and Jesus. But it is the inn-keeper who should catch our attention. He is the one to whom the Samaritan entrusted the care of the hurting man. It is to him that the Samaritan promises the necessary financial and material provision necessary to care the hurting and broken man. The inn-keeper represents the Church.

It seems that the seventy-two gathered disciples certainly did get the point of Christ had just taught. The Who is my neighbour? question was answered and acted up when the Church embraced Gentile converts into Christianity and in a very literal application of what Jesus taught, they literally set up hospitals to care for the literally wounded people they came across. 

Today, we can recognise that Jesus is the Antitype (Ultimate Expression) of the Good Samaritan. He still finds the hurting, lost, confused, abused, beaten, and broken of this world along life’s highways and brings them to His various “inns” (local churches) for us to care for them. He still ensures all the necessary resources will be made available to His Church for this to happen. I rather like to hope that in this story the Jewish inn-keeper was moved by the compassion of the Samaritan and became his co-compassionate representative in much the same that our church should similarly be representatives of Christ’s great compassion for all people too.

 

CHRIST’S CHALLENGE TO THE LAWYER WAS ALSO HIS CHALLENGE TO THE SEVENTY-TWO AND STILL HIS CHALLENGE TO US!

Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbour 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 10:36-37

May God give us the grace to be such a local church for the hurting and wounded of this world to find the healing for their aching souls that only Christ can provide!

Amen!

Your Pastor,

Andrew

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AMAZING ACCESS

Anyone who has attended a large event such as the recent Will Graham Outreach event that was held at the Launceston Silverdome would be familiar with the varying levels of access that are provided to staff and volunteers associated with this type of event. The security system used included identification in the form of different coloured shirts, prayer volunteer cards, and all access cards that permitted access to the entire venue with no questions asked by security personnel. This is like the access level that God has to our lives. Being omnipresent, He has unhindered access to every aspect of our lives. He knows our innermost thoughts, sees all that we do, hears all that we say. God has the ultimate ‘all access’ card.

WHY FINDING TRUTH MATTERS

How can we determine whether a claim is true or false? Some people think there are different kinds of truth — my truth, their truth, and your truth. But how do they know that their assessment of truth is true? After all, their assessment – that there is my/their/your truth might just be based on their truth rather than the truth. Truth has certain qualities that distinguishes it from what is false-
 Truth corresponds to reality.
 Truth is verifiable (that is, if it is true, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is falsifiable (that is, if it is false, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is sometimes testable (that is, claims that are experiential can be tested by experience – including scientific claims, historic claims, and existential claims).
We have good reasons for the believing that the Bible is true because it is the divinely inspired, reliable and authoritative Word of God which has been superintendedly preserved by the Holy Spirit (read more about this).

THE 5 MOST IMPORTANT YEARS OF ANYONE’S LIFE

Parents, Kids Church leaders, and Christian school teachers should be intentional about shaping children to be fully devoted followers of Christ who have reasons for believing Christianity is true – which shapes them into virtuous contributors to society and to find their role in God’s Kingdom. This will be one of the necessary and indispensable means for the Church to fulfil the Great Commission of Christ.

TIME- YOU CAN’T CONTROL IT – BUT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT

We live in a fast paced world. We expect things to happen quickly. None of us like to be kept waiting. Even when we order something online we expect it delivered straight away. Some of us having to work two or even three jobs just to be able to pay the bills. We describe ourselves as time-poor. Yet, we all get twenty-four-hours in a day. Sixty-minutes in an hour. And sixty-seconds in a minute. Most of us need to adjust how we see, understand, and treat our time. This will involve, what will be for some, adopting a foreign and largely unaccustomed view of time that involves worship, sabbath, and deepening relationships. From this biblical perspective we will come to see time as a gift from God, not a curse, or source of frustration. Within this gift of time God teaches us how to worship in those times when it is difficult to do so. Rather than thinking this divine gift of time is ours to do with what ever we want, God uses this gift to teach us that we should gift it back to Him beginning with (but not limited to) treating Sunday as a sabbath to come together to recommit our hearts, voices, minds, and presence with God’s people, back to God. God gives us passing time to learn to deepen relationships – especially with our kin, and our friends. Time is meant for relationship building. 

I AM WHO I AM BUT I AM NOT WHO I USED TO BE BUT I AM NOT YET WHO I WILL BE

One of the greatest lies that the would-be enemy of all our souls attempts to perpetuate is that we are what we are and we can never change. This lie is whispered into the ears of many people’s invisible ears so imperceptibly that they actually think it originated with them. “You were born this way – and you can never change”, “This is who you really are – and you can never change”, “There’s no hope of anything ever changing for better – so you might as well just kill yourself” and so on. But these sly alien voices inside the heads of the vulnerable are lies. People can change. People do change. Some circumstances were always going to be temporary and were always going to change. I know this is true because I am living proof. I am who I am but I am not who I used to be and I am not yet who I will be.

WHO DOES THIS EPHESIANS FELLA THINK HE IS?!

It may well still be the best-selling book of all time – and continues year-by-year to be so – but certainly is not the best-read of our current times! If there was ever any doubt about this, the events this week in Hobart, at St. Mary’s (Catholic) College Girl’s School, should remove all doubt! A furore erupted over the news that the prescribed Scripture reading for the year-end graduation celebration, which incorporated a Mass, was “Wives submit to your husbands” taken from Ephesians. Callers into ABC radio’s breakfast program decried this assault against women – especially young, vulnerable girls. One caller, responding to the news that the text being used was a citation from Ephesians, denounced Ephesians and apparently demanded, “Just who does this Ephesians bloke think he is?!” Another caller stated, “Why are they quoting ancient Roman philosophers in the twenty-first century?!” And yet another caller somehow linked all religious wars to passages like this one in the Bible! He remarked, “I’m an atheist. All wars are started by those who are religious! No war was ever started by atheists!” (Perhaps he had never heard of Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Vladimir Putin, who were collectively responsible for the deaths of over 20,000,000?) This furore led to the Archbishop conceding that the Ephesians passage did not have to be used at the graduation ceremony. But this furore has highlighted just how unaware many Tasmanians are about what the Bible is, what is actually says, and why it says it. And I am now about to correct this deficiency.  

THE LORD IS MY ROCK

Of the many tributes paid to her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was the often noted reflection that during her reign the world underwent a series of rapid changes that were dramatic and unprecedented in human history. There were technological inventions that revolutionised the way people could access international travel options enabling them to be virtually anywhere in the world within a matter of hours. New forms of communication emerged with the development of a global satellite communications network enabling people to watch Neil Armstrong take his one giant leap Live on their black-and-white TV screens (as I did in the corridors of Corio Primary School in 1969). Space exploration, the stuff previously just in the realm of science fiction writers, became a reality with manned and unmanned voyages to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. But the past one hundred years have also been a time of great upheaval with empires crumbling, governments toppled, wars waged, genocides committed, pandemics raging, nations birthed, rulers assassinated, and massive refugee movements from oppressive Islamic and Communist regimes. Added to this has been the demise of professional journalism and the rise of internet-citizen-journalism where it is now common for TV News reports to feature footage taken from someone’s cell-phone which was posted on social media rather than the more expensive option of sending their own film crew there. And while we’re mentioning the internet, let’s not forget to mention – the internet. This alone has possibly been the most monumental change in the way people communicate, work, learn, and shop. But while it was noted that the Queen had witnessed all of these many changes, it was also noted that the Queen herself was an unchanging constant during all these upheavals who brought about a sense of stability, peace and reassurance. To millions of people around the world, she was their rock in a world of turmoil and change. Yet this was only possible because she herself had an immovable, dependable rock upon which she had built her life.

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