Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Praying for you, your family, your community, and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the Coronavirus. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.
One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25)
We are in the Lent season. It is time to join Jesus’ pain and heart for us. We are sinners and prone to choose what we want rather than what Jesus wants, but Jesus always loves us. His love is not cheap either. He has given up everything.
We all have experienced the terrible taste of sin. When sin comes into our family, our family is divided because we avoid even our own family’s eye contact, which sin makes. When sin comes into our community, our community is divided — making all kinds of effort to hide sin to keep the community from knowing rather than building up each other. When sin comes into our church, our church is divided. When it happens, it is really painful.
Jesus loved His disciples till the end. Were Jesus’ disciples without sin? No. One of them sold Jesus. Peter, who always wanted to be the first, denied Jesus before people, including a servant girl, three times. Jesus’ three years of loving teaching could not hold them as one with Jesus. As soon as Jesus was arrested, all ran away to save their own lives. Jesus, on the other hand, gave His life because He loved them. These disciples were not worthy. Jesus knew all, but Jesus equally loved them one by one by washing their feet with His own hands. At that time, washing feet was servant’s job, but Jesus did it out of His love. Then Jesus wanted His disciples to wash each other’s feet.
You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. (John 13:13-15)
Jesus washed the disciples’ feet out of His love. Jesus wants us to do the same — serving each other out of love, not just humanly love, but the love of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ love costed Jesus by hanging on the cross. Why? To take away our sins in us, which we cannot take away by our own effort. Instead, Jesus died for our sins. As a result, the sins dividing our family, community, and church are no longer with us. Yes, no more division, and no more pain that Adam and Eve experienced — avoiding and hiding in fear after sinning. Love builds up us and unites us with Jesus.
Again, love is costly, which requires sacrificing something most valuable to us. The best example is the cross where Jesus sacrificed Himself. What is our small cross in our lives for others?
One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question:
“Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25b)
The expert in religious law’s motive was not pure from the beginning. He wanted to show up to others, including Jesus. The expert knew the religious law inside and out. He always felt that he was the best among the experts in religious law. On numerous occasions, he found errors and flaws of his fellow experts in religious law. He was quiet most of the time, but sometimes he could not put up the wrong answers. He corrected the wrong answers by pointing at the precise portion of the religious law. Then he got recognition from the peers and the people.
However, the recognition was short-lived, especially to his own eyes. He saw his fellow experts giving full credit to the expert, although the other expert provided a sub-par answer. Thus, he was always searching for an opportunity to show him up as the top expert of religious law. Finally, the opportunity came.
Jesus had silenced the absurd position of Sadducees about the resurrection. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection at all. Jesus corrected their wrong interpretation. To the expert in religious laws, it was always difficult to deal with Sadducees because they were more powerful, wealthier, and more respectful. Jesus made him happy because he no longer proved that his group was better than the entire group of Sadducees. One thing left was to prove he was the best among his group.
The expert in religious law decided to use the opportunity to his advantage. He approached Jesus, and he asked a question to show up. Didn’t he already know the answer? Yes, he exactly knew the answer because he kept teaching people how to get eternal life. Those how listened to his teaching always praised his clear and concise teaching about this question. After all, it was the best part of his teaching. The expert in religious law very confidently asked Jesus — “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus knew all things, including what was happening in the heart of the expert in religious law. Jesus replied,
“What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?” (Luke 10:26b)
Yes, everything was happening as the expert in religious law anticipated. How many times did he teach the topic? He even could not remember. Whenever he completed his teaching, all were amazed at his teaching. Some quietly nodded. Some beat chests. Some left the place in tears. Whenever he saw the people’s reaction, he felt like God because he touched people’s hearts. He was thrilled. He happily answered to Jesus with a confident voice,
“‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27b)
Jesus heard the answer of the expert in religious law. Then Jesus was silent for a while. The expert in religious law was getting nervous. But he kept saying to himself that there was no other answer except what he told because it came directly from Moses’ law. But he had no option but carefully watching Jesus’ mouth that had no sign that his mouth was moving at all.
Jesus again knew what’s going on in the expert’s mind. Jesus looked into the eyes of the expert in religious laws, and said to him,
“You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” (Luke 10:28b)
The expert was so happy. He got Jesus’ approval. Now he had to cement his superiority over the other experts in religious law.
“Who is neighbor” was another best topic of his teaching. What he had to do was making Jesus agree with him. So he asked Jesus,
“And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29b)
Jesus exactly knew what was going on in the heart of the expert of religious laws. Then Jesus started talking a story:
“A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. (Luke 10:30b)
The Jewish man was bleeding on the road. The scene was terrible and scary, mixed with blood and the groaning pain coming out of the man’s mouth. The man was in dire need of help from others. If not, he would have been bleeding and then died. He was in extreme pain and dying from the wounds.
“By chance, a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. (Luke 10:31)
The priest taught people at the temple and got all respects from people, and the specific priest was the best among all priests. People respected him, and believed he was the most benevolent priest who always provided the needy with mercy and love. Thus, whenever people were around him, he had to act not to make people disappointed whether he truly wanted it or not because he knew how people thought about him. Of course, it was not easy for him to perform always, but he did it for people and God.
The priest believed that he was always working hard for God. If not for God, there was no reason for him to act mercifully and gracefully to those who were in need. His priesthood duty was heavy on him, but he endured for God. That made him feel good and even righteous before God. He believed that he paid enough dues to God as a good priest. Therefore, he was confident in himself as the best priest, and he thought that he deserved all respect from the people.
Especially, it was a really busy day. His schedule was fully booked. He was on the way to the other town to lead the worship service. He also had gone through all rituals by cleansing himself according to Moses’ law. He was fully ready to lead the service as soon as he arrived at the temple in the other town. The most important thing in his mind was to keep the commitment to provide a religious service at the temple in the other town. His religious task was so important that he could not miss or be late for the service under any circumstances. He saw the man bleeding on the road, but he could not touch him. Then he had to go through all over the full ritual of cleansing before leading God’s service in the temple. People also informed that many important people would be at the service.
Therefore, he decided to avoid the man bleeding and dying on the road, and he went on. While passing by the bleeding man, he kept thinking he was doing God’s work. He even felt that he was righteous before God because He made a difficult decision by wisely choosing Godly decision for God. He was quickly moving onto the next town.
A Levite, who worked in the temple, walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. (Luke 10:32)
Levites had great pride by separating themselves from other tribes of Israelites. They were the tribe who slaughtered idolaters at Sinai following Israel’s worship of the Golden Calf, grave sin against God. Moses was so upset as soon as he saw the Israelites worshipping idols that they made while he was up with God in Mount Horeb to received Ten Commandments. Moses spent 40 days and nights in the mountain, and the Israelites, during the time, made idols and worshipped. Moses then stood at the gate of the camp and said,” Who is on God’s side? Come to me.” And the Levites, Moses’ own tribe, gathered around him.
So Moses called for the Levites to slaughter their fellow Israelites—“Thus says God of Israel, ‘Put your sword on your side each of you, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill his brother and his companion and his neighbor.’” And the Levites killed about 3,000 men on that day. Then God’s answer subsided. It was the reason why the Levites gained the privilege to serve in the temple directly.
The Levites were so proud of their heritage. They were always the best believers and exemplary citizens. They were the tribe who always ahead of others to do God’s work and provide supports to the people who came to the temple. Without their help, it was practically impossible to worship in the temple because they were the experts on all aspects of worshipping God in the temple. People just came and followed what was told by the Levites to worship God in the temple. When the worshippers left the temple, all praised what the Levites had done to them. Therefore, their job was to help others in the temple. To do their job, they always kept them ritually clean according to Moses’ law.
The Levite was going to the same service to support the priest ahead to the next town. He had to go to the temple in the next town on time. He was already behind schedule. He was essentially running to catching up there. Yes, he saw the man bleeding and dying on the road, but he could not late for his job helping many worships God. One vs. many. He gave a thought. His rationale was that he could not screw up many in the temple because of the one man on the road. In fact, the man was not even in the temple. He put God first and briskly moved away from the bleeding man on the road for many for God.
“Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’ (Luke 10:33-35)
After the priest and the Levite, a Samaritan came. At that time, Jewish people despised Samaritans because they were not pure. Jews should have had kept them pure before God by not marrying to non-Jews. Samaritans were Jews, but they married to non-Jews. At that time, for Jews, there were two types of people in the world: Jews, God’s people, and non-Jews. Non-Jews were lower-class people. Then how about Samaritans? Jews despised Samaritans more than non-Jews. To the eyes of Jews, Samaritans were traitors. All societies treat traitors harshly more than enemies. Thus, Jews treat Samaritans harshly, which is understandable.
On the other hand, Samaritans did not even get close to Jews because of the above reason. They knew Jews would treat Samaritans like animals. Avoiding Jews was the best tactic for them not to be hurt. They did nothing wrong, but Jews unfairly treated them poorly, but they could do nothing about it. How painful to be Samaritans at that time!
One Samaritan saw a man bleeding and dying, but he was one of the Jews always despising his people. How would we feel that when we saw a man who always despises us and treats us like animals, and the same man is bleeding and dying on the road? Can we feel compassion for the man? Or do we feel the justice of God? Or do we even see a righteous God’s hand?
Please look around and see how the world is reacting in such a situation.
The Samaritan man was different. He was compassionate to the bleeding and dying Jew. Then he walked up to the man on the road. His mind still projected those arrogant Jews to his eyes, but to his eyes, the Jewish man lying on the road was a just helpless man bleeding and dying in extreme pain. Many of his painful memories of the past unfair and harsh treatment of Jews quickly passed through his brain. He froze and stood still in the painful memory.
He breathed out slowly and tried to overcome his painful memory. He had never struggled that much before. His quick brain action kept telling him that it was time to pay back. But he resisted. He fought and fought against till he could push back all of the worldly justice: tooth-to-tooth and eye-to-eye. It wasn’t easy, but he finally overcame his quick feeling.
Then the Samaritan pulled out olive oil and wine that he saved for his entire journey, prepared by his family. It was so precious to him. He still could hear his family’s farewell voice as leaving his home and could see the hands prepared the precious olive oil and wine for him, but he poured the olive oil and wine on the man’s wounds to soothe the man’s wounds. The wounds were deep and gave the man extreme pain. As he poured olive oil and wine on the wounds, he saw the man’s face easing from the pain. He also cut off some of his robes and bandaged the wounds. The Jewish man slowly understood what was going on, and the man realized that a Samaritan was helping him.
As the man was getting conscious, the Samaritan grabbed the man and put on his own donkey. Then the Samaritan walked and led his donkey carrying the wounded man. He brought the man to the nearest inn. The Samaritan, who overcame the initial worldly mental urge with Godly compassion, kept looking at the wounded man on his donkey. The man was barely hanging on his donkey, and the Samaritan did not stop giving his compassion and care to the man. The man could not believe what was happening, and the helper was a Samaritan. The man found a true friend, a Samaritan, whom he despised like other Jews.
The Samaritan brought the man into the inn, and continued taking care of the wounded man. For the Samaritan, the wounded Jewish man was the highest priority. His trip was the second priority. He desired to take care of the wounded man till fully healed, but he had to meet his commitment. Following morning, departing the inn, he gave two denarii (two days’ wage) to the innkeeper, which was all that he had. He knew it was not enough to keep the wounded man till full recovery. He promised to the innkeeper, “I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.” Then he went on his journey. He gave all for the wounded man bleeding and dying, although the man was one of the Jews who despised and treated him like animals.
The Samaritan is an example of Jesus’ love. People despised, mocked, torched, and nailed Him on the cross, but Jesus did give His compassion and love to those who crucified Him. He was silent before the wrong acquisition, but he spoke his love and forgiveness for those who wrongfully accused and then crucified him.
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” (Luke 10:36)
The expert in the law replied,
“The one who had mercy on him.” (Luke 10:37b)
Jesus told him,
“Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:37d)
Do we have someone who always despises or even hurts us? We should remember the Samaritan who gave all to one of the Jews who despised and treated like animals out of compassion. Jesus Christ did the same to us. Who is our neighbor? Now, we know what to do to our neighbor.
Give thanks to God for giving His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who endured all things because he loves us. Yes, Jesus loves us no matter what we did because His love is greater than all our sins combined. It is the reason why we can come to God confidently without fear of punishment or abandonment. Jesus’ love is unconditional regardless of who we are and what we did. Jesus wants us back into His bosom to give His love along with the best gift of all — eternal salvation. Come, come to Jesus. Put out our hearts burdened with our sins and transgressions, and receive His mercy and forgiveness that only comes from His unfathomable Love. Yes, He is Love, and this is the truth: Jesus will love us forever.
To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (Mark 12:33)