Read the Bible in 2011–2021* ◊ Week 23: Saturday
Today’s Bible reading is Luke 9–10. Before you begin to read, remember to ask God to teach you from His Word.
There is so much going on these chapters in Luke. They are packed with significant events. Jesus sends out the twelve, and later seventy men to proclaim the kingdom of God. He performs miracles, including the miracle of feeding the five thousand with five loaves and two fishes, Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ, the Transfiguration, interaction and teaching with the disciples and the crowds, and the well-known passage on His time with Martha and Mary. I want to focus on the one parable that is found in Luke 9–10.
And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” 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 neighbor as yourself.” And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?”
And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.”
The Prodigal Son in Luke 15, and The Good Samaritan are the best known and the most beloved of all of the parables Jesus told. The Prodigal Son is the story of the rebellious son who turns away from his sin in sorrow and remorse, and goes home to his father who rushes to meet him with outstretched arms of love. In this parable Jesus gave us a picture of God’s welcoming love for us when we turn from our sins. In The Good Samaritan He gave us another picture of love.
Both parables speak deeply to our hearts, because both parables speak profoundly of our relationships. The love of God is so evident in The Prodigal Son—God’s love for us draws forth from us love for Him; a love of all our heart, soul, strength and mind for Him by which we fulfill the first and greatest commandment. The second command, to love our neighbor as ourselves, flows from the first, and this love is so evident in The Good Samaritan.
The Good Samaritan was both rebuke and teaching to the lawyer who sought to justify himself. Enmity between the Jews and the Samaritans went back hundreds of years, and to use a Samaritan as an example of one who fulfilled the second command in contrast to the priest and Levite, was indeed a reproach that exposed the heart and motivation of the questioner.
In my October 2010 post, Blessings, I mentioned in thinking about the parable of the Good Samaritan, I wondered if Jesus chose the Samaritan to show compassion not only to underscore the hardheartedness of the religious leaders, but also because a Samaritan would have known what it was to suffer and to need compassion. I’m also fascinated that of the ten lepers healed by Jesus, the only one who came back and thanked Him was a Samaritan.
I think that was the first post I wrote about The Good Samaritan. The parable has been a theme in many of my posts from that very first year I started Kindling for Candles, I think because I’ve know both extremes. I’ve had people who reached out and sacrificially gave to me when I was in great need. I’ve also been passed by on the other side.
In Shadow People I wrote about James 2:1–9, and favoritism within the church: those Christians who live in the shadows and remain unreceived and unwelcomed and shut out from the life of the church; those who are patronized and who live without respect because of their circumstances or their background. Rather than being considered rich in faith as James described, the poor of the church are far more likely to be considered inadequate or deficient. These are the people who are hesitant to reach out for help because they struggle with problems or situations they cannot hide. These are the people who love Christ, but who live on the edge of breaking because they bear heavy burdens by themselves. These are people who sometimes finally do shatter under strain.
In Neighbors I didn’t mention the parable, but I used the photo of the statue of the Good Samaritan lifting up the robbed and beaten man onto his donkey. It was prompted after seeing Hitchcock’s Rear Window, a story of neighbors, when a woman cried out from her balcony to everyone looking on from theirs:
“You don’t know the meaning of the word neighbor. Neighbors like each other, speak to each other, care if anybody lives or dies, but none of you do.”
In that post I wrote: Have you ever thought about how much a kind word or a small consideration can mean? Have you ever thought about why the phrase human touch describes something important, necessary and good? The other day one of our neighbors, who knows what we’re going through, briefly said, “Life is tough sometimes, isn’t it?” That meant a lot to us. Her touch of empathy connected us as people. With only a few words she conveyed to us support, trust in who we are and understanding of what we feel.
In Tests I talked about something I read from a commencement address by J. K. Rowling. She said adversity tests you and your relationships. People who aren’t Christians certainly grasp what it means to be a friend and a neighbor. Christians frequently speak of our testing as individuals by the suffering we endure, but rarely do we discuss how adversity tests and reveals relationships within the church. That’s odd, because Jesus said some emphatic things about our relationships with each other:
I wrote that Paul, James, Peter, John, and the author of Hebrews all spoke to relationships within the church, and said when someone you know is going through adversity, he’s not the only one being tested. Your reaction to his adversity is your test. Before you consider him weak, consider yourself.
I’ve written a multitude of posts on Jesus’ command to love one another, but I want to quote from only one, You Shall Not Hide Yourself From Your Neighbor’s Trouble. I had read Psalm 55:17, and turned to my copy of Derek Kidner’s two volume small-book set of commentaries on the Psalms. As I was reading, I found something unexpected. Kidner titles Psalm 55, “Betrayed” and writes:
“Such a cry as this helps to make the Psalter a book for the extremities of experience as well as for its normalities. The person who is driven to distraction finds a fellow-sufferer here; the rest of us may find a guide to our intercessions, so that we can pray with our brethren ‘as though in prison’ (or other distress) ‘with them’ (Heb. 13:3).”1
The psalm opens with David saying,
Kidner calls the first three verses, “The intolerable strain.”
“A recurrent phrase in the law of Deuteronomy 22:1–4 (RSV mg.) lights up the plea, hide not thyself, by using this very expression to forbid the ignoring of a neighbor’s predicament, however inconvenient the moment. So the allusion makes David’s prayer an appeal to God’s self-consistency as well as to His mercy.”2
That was the unexpected part—Hide not thyself—God forbids the ignoring of a neighbor’s predicament, however inconvenient. Those words sent me to Deuteronomy.
Thou shalt not see thy brother’s ox or his sheep go astray, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt in any case bring them again unto thy brother.
And if thy brother be not nigh unto thee, or if thou know him not, then thou shalt bring it unto thine own house, and it shall be with thee until thy brother seek after it, and thou shalt restore it to him again.
In like manner shalt thou do with his ass; and so shalt thou do with his raiment; and with all lost thing of thy brother’s, which he hath lost, and thou hast found, shalt thou do likewise: thou mayest not hide thyself.
I’ve read that passage in Deuteronomy before, but Kidner’s insight brought new understanding of God’s command to, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Think for a minute about God’s command in Deuteronomy, “You shall not hide yourself.” What an apt phrase to describe the way Christians can awkwardly edge away from you, literally hiding themselves away from your trouble because it brings them discomfort. There are few things more painful than experiencing such abandonment.
What does that say about our self-consistency as Christians? Are we children of God? Are we not commanded to love one another? To support and help each other? Rather than abandon those in distress or fail to watch out for them or consider how we can help them and then do it, let us instead abandon indifference, excuses, self-justification and self-righteous judgment.
Hiding yourself from your neighbor’s trouble is hiding love that someone needs. I ask you to prayerfully consider and think over the parable of The Good Samaritan.
If you feel as if others are hiding themselves for your trouble, I want to remind you that God will never hide Himself from our trouble. Even when others do so, He will not. We may feel forgotten by others and by Him—David certainly did at times, and his words help and comfort us in our feelings—but as David also knew, God is always there. He does not hide Himself from our trouble, He hides us in our day of trouble.
One of my favorite hymns in Fanny Crosby’s “He Hideth My Soul.” The day after I learned my brother had tried to commit suicide, my pastor, Mike Braun, had our church sing this hymn. I’d called Mike when I heard and he spent time with me that Sunday morning before church. I was shattered, and these words brought immense comfort. God does not hide Himself from you. He will hide you with His love and care in your day of trouble.
In that time, God not only comforted me with His comfort, but so many in that church comforted me, stood with me, and did not hide themselves from my trouble.
I closed Shadow People with these words:
Life in this world can be messy, inexplicable and outside our control because we live in a world marred by sin. Have you come to realize that God in His sovereignty has allowed it to be that way, and that only He is in control? Do you distance yourself from those who live in messy situations because you only want to deal with things that can be quickly tidied and neatly boxed up?
A man once asked the Lord Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”
Who is yours?
Read Holding Fast for clues on recognizing when someone has troubles.
Read Suffering & Lovingkindness on showing love to someone suffering in troubles.
Read Journey Through The Storm to better understand those in the midst of troubles.
Isaiah 42 Photograph: ChristianPhotos.net – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications. (Site has been deleted since posting).
Barmhartige Samaritaan by Han Wezelaar (The Good Samaritan): Gouwenaar, Public Domain.
1,2Derek Kidner, Psalms 1–72 (Inter-Varsity Press, London: 1973) 199, 199.
*In 2011 I started a year-long series of posts, “Read the Bible in 2011.” You can find the other posts in the navigation menu in the header. If a day doesn’t have a link to a post, the post was simply a brief reminder about the reading. I’m filling in some of those gaps with new posts with “Read the Bible in 2011 Redux” as a category.
Original content: Copyright ©2011–2021 Iwana Carpenter