Devotions for Luke 10:25-42–Parable of the Good Samaritan
February 27-March 5, 2017
Monday, February 27, 2017–Parable of the Good Samaritan
“A lawyer stood up to test Jesus, ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life” (Luke 10:25)?
When we were growing up, we sought the approval of our parents. The approval of our teachers along with good grades were our goals, during our school aged years. Once we secured a job, we worked hard to please our supervisors. Certainly we had a few relationships where we were accepted simply for who we were. The vast majority of our relationships were such, though, that we needed to work hard to prove ourselves. It was easy to transfer what was expected in our earthly relationships to our relationship with God. The idea that we needed to work hard to please God was also supported by some very poor church teaching.
The lawyer thought he knew the answer to the question that he posed to Jesus. He not only wanted to see if Jesus agreed with him, he also want to be affirmed that he was good enough to inherit eternal life. Jesus’ answer went beyond his expectations and became an impossible task—help everyone who is in need.
It is a noble goal to be a good neighbor to everyone who is in need. When we fail at it, and we will, it is good to know that eternal life is not something that is earned, but rather something that is given. Not only that, but it is ours already.
While we serve you and love our neighbors Lord, never let us forget the depth, breadth, and heighth of your grace. Amen.
Tuesday, February 28, 2017–Parable of the Good Samaritan
“’He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself’” (Luke 10:27).
Motivational gurus instruct their clients to write down their goals, keep their goals in a conspicuous space and repeat them frequently. These practices help people to focus on their goals and, they hope, motivate them to consistently move toward their goals.
Every morning, Jewish men would awake from their sleep and repeat the words of what is called “The Shema.” “Hear O Israel, the Lord your God is one, and you shall love the Lord with all your heart ….” These words remind the men of the essence of life.
It isn’t a bad idea to put these goals on our refrigerators and recite them regularly. They would help us eliminate a lot of distractions in our lives. Acting out these words in our everyday lives won’t enable us to achieve a higher level of eternal life. They will, however, remind us of what life is all about.
Jesus, move in our lives so that you are not only “The Reason for the Season,” but also the reason for all of life. Amen.
Wednesday, March 1, 2017–Parable of the Good Samaritan
“Wanting to justify himself he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor’” (Luke 10:29)?
We’re pretty good at justifying ourselves—it’s called making excuses. We may have sinned against God in thought word and deed and not treated our neighbors as ourselves, but we know why. One reasons is that we didn’t have the time. Another rational is that we didn’t have the resources to meet the need. There are scores of excuses that we can list. It is much more difficult to be justified. That involves confession, repentance and forgiveness.
As we begin our Lenten journey, we pause to confess to God that we are self-centered and that we rebel against God’s lordship in our lives. This is not a time for excuses. Nor is it the time for the nostalgic “wish we could do it over.” When the ashes are placed on our foreheads, we are reminded of our human condition. We are dust and to dust we shall return.
This is not a time for hopelessness or despair, though. We will always be both sinners and saints, but we will be justified sinners and saints. We are justified, not because of what we have done, but because of what Jesus has done. Our justification is a gift.
Lord, forgive us because we have sinned. Amen.
Thursday, March 2, 2017–Parable of the Good Samaritan
“Now by chance a priest was going down that road … he passed by on the other side” (Luke 10:31).
The crowd of office workers erupted from the elevator. In the melee a woman, who has carrying a sheaf of papers, was bumped, spilling those papers across the floor. Dan knew that he should stop, but he didn’t want to get his pants dirty kneeling down to pick up the papers. He also had a meeting in a few minutes and really didn’t have the time to help. The phone rang and Jackie looked to see who was calling her. It was her cousin who had been dealing with an alcoholic teenage son for the past year. Jackie didn’t answer the phone. She really didn’t want to hear her cousin talk about her struggles.
We all have our excuses for not helping. They basically boil down to that fact that we don’t want to get involved. All we want to do is to concentrate on our own needs and to get through life as best we can.
Our call, as followers of Jesus, directs us to get involved. We follow Jesus who, “Did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, emptied himself and became obedient unto death even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-11). Jesus got involved and now we have the privilege of emptying ourselves for the sake of others.
Lord, forbid that we go through life “walking on the other side.” Lead us to where there are needs. Amen.
Friday, March 3, 2017–Parable of the Good Samaritan
“But a Samaritan … when he saw him was moved with pity’ (Luke 10:33).
Ashlyn has a rare condition named congenital insensitivity to pain. It doesn’t allow her to feel pain. She can feel pressure, but not the cut of a sharp knife, the itch of an insect bite or the heat of boiling water. It is a frightening condition that can lead to unnoticed injuries and even premature death. At first, the idea of never hurting might appear attractive. Wouldn’t it be nice not to itch when bitten by a mosquito or hurt when stung by a bee? Being numb to the pain of life, though, is not a healthy option.
Perhaps we are hardened by all of the violence and suffering we see on television or the internet. We might think that the problems are too big for us to make a difference, so we don’t allow ourselves to feel. Being insensitive to the pain of life is dangerous, however. We don’t stand against injustice or move to meet a need. Numbness doesn’t allow us to be aware of another’s burden so we can bear that burden with them.
We could point out that the priest and the Levite were numb to the pain of the beaten and robbed traveler. Luke records, though, that the Samaritan was moved with pity. The Samaritan felt the man’s pain and it became his own. Feeling allowed the Samaritan to bind up the victim’s wounds and to seek further aid.
Move within us, Lord, so that the message of your love and grace in our lives may keep us sensitive to the pain and suffering of the people around us. Amen.
Saturday, March 4, 2017–Parable of the Good Samaritan
“’Which of these three, do you think was a neighbor to the man” (Luke 10:36)?
Jesus’ definition of a neighbor is anyone who sees someone in need and acts to meet that need. This definition makes neighbors inclusive rather than exclusive. Neighbors break down barriers and build bridges. The Samaritan was an example of this. Though an ancient enemy of the Jews, he didn’t allow that to stop him from acting out of pity and compassion.
This is sometimes a difficult concept to accept. There are sharp divisions in the nations where we live. Can conservatives have compassion on liberals and visa versa? Are we able to serve minorities from whom we are very different, or do we limit our care to those like us? As followers of Jesus, are we able to come to the aid of our Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or atheist brothers and sisters? As followers of a man whose love knew no boundaries, do we limit the extent of our love?
Love and service are at times difficult. Living from the perspective that we are all neighbors, enables us to see that we are also all children of God. When we focus on our neighbors’ needs, our differences fade away.
Lord, give us sight that we may see the world from your perspective—all people as your children and everyone as our neighbors. Amen.
Sunday, March 5, 2017–Parable of the Good Samaritan
“But Martha was distracted by her many tasks” (Luke 10:40).
Martha was distracted by all of her tasks and this was before multi-tasking. Now, we have so many things to do that we convince ourselves that we need to work on several of them at the same time. Usually we find out that it doesn’t work. God didn’t create us to multi-task.
Martha probably felt trapped. As a hostess, she had specific responsibilities that society expected of her. Mary wasn’t doing anything wrong when Jesus spoke to her. When Jesus invited her to seek the important things, she probably wondered how she was going to do that. Was it one more thing to add to her already hectic life or what was she going to stop doing?
Jesus didn’t treat Martha as a victim or as a person who was trapped. He said that she had a choice. Martha’s sister, Mary, had made a better choice. We are like Martha. We, too, have the ability to choose. One of our choices may be the need to say, “No,” and not meet all of the others’ expectations. It might be necessary for us to drop some of those activities that we “kinda want to do.” “Simplify” might need to become our war cry. We do this because we do not want to be distracted. We want to be followers of Jesus.
Jesus, there are many distractions in the world and many things we think we need to accomplish. Help us keep our eyes on you, choose the important things in life and be faithfully obedient to your Spirit’s leading. Amen.