home > Pastor’s Desk > 2022 > August 19th > 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.
Jesus’ 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?”
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.
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.”
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?”
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.”
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!
Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.
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