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Introducing Jesus: Week 30


Audio Transcript: Good morning Mosaic, most of you, some of you. It's a foretaste of next Sunday. So glad to see every single one of your eyes, and glad you're here. With that said, would you please pray with me over the preaching of God's holy word? Heavenly Father, we thank You for this blessing it is. What a blessing it is to gather as your people. It's so good to come together in the House of the Lord. Jesus, You are here amongst us. We feel Your presence and we pray by the power of the Holy Spirit, minister to us today. Speak a powerful word to us and show us how desperately we need the only good Samaritan, the only truly ultimately good Samaritan. Jesus, You offer us mercy. And some of us are too self-righteous and blinded by our self-righteousness to accept the grace and mercy, the compassion that you so long to pour out into our lives. Then once we receive that mercy, make us a people who extend mercy to others. It's hard, it's costly, it's emotionally taxing, but you're always there to refill our resources in a supernatural way, and I pray do that with us today. Lord, continue to bless this church, continue to bless this body of believers, continue adding to it, and we pray this in Christ's holy name, amen. The title of the sermon today is, The Only Good Samaritan. We are in Luke 10:25-37. There's a lot of important questions going through our minds rapidly now. What is the most important question on the top of your mind, even this week? Is it a question of finances? Is it question of how's the economy going to go? Is it question of, are my kids going to school? Is it a question of housing? Is it a question of, am I going to get married? Is it a question of, am I going to stay married? Hopefully yes, you should. Is it a question of how are we going to get through this season? How should I provide for my family? All important questions. The most important question that each one of us needs to find an answer to is a question that a gentleman asked Jesus in our text today. And what he'd asked is, “What must I do to inherit eternal life? Is my eternity secure? When I die, that's for sure, am I going to a place of paradise, a place called Heaven, a place of God's presence or not?” And then once we get an answer to that question, the second most important question that we need to find an answer to, and then orient our lives around is, how can I help others? How can I extend the greatest amount of compassion to another person, which isn't just to meet their physical needs, it's to meet their spiritual and eternal needs? That's what the text is about today, Luke 10:25-37. That is the fastest introduction in the Pastor Jan's sermon in the history of Pastor Jan's sermons. Luke 10:25, “And behold, the lawyers 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?’ 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've answered correctly. Do this and you will live.’. But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’ 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. Now by chance a priest was going down that road. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper saying, take care of him, whatever you spend. I will repay you when I come back. Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor 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.’”. This is the reading of God's holy inerrant, infallible, authoritative word. May he write these eternal truths upon our hearts. Three points to frame up our time together, the impossibility of self-salvation, the impossibility of selfless love, and the only good Samaritan. First of all, the impossibility of self-salvation. Many of us are used to this parable. We've heard this parable, probably not dozens of times, but probably hundreds of times. We already know what it means. It's one of these you know, in staff meeting, we go through the text prior to it being preached as a devotional, as a Bible study. When we got to the very end after reading it, and we're like, “What are your thoughts?” And everyone's like, “You know, we kind of kind of get it. We've heard it. Okay, show mercy to people.” Because we're so familiar with it, we kind of lose sight of the point. We kind of lose sight of the outrage, how provocative this story is, especially set in the context that it's set in. Yes, we know it's a nice ideal to help people. And many of us have devoted, oriented our lives around helping as many people as possible. And perhaps you read this and there's an element of cynicism because of ministry fatigue, where you've been ministering to people in this season over and over and over and over. And you're like, “How many more people will need help on my path?” And you get to this place where you feel a callus, you feel a numbing, desensitization words where it's like, “Yeah, I kind of understand that priest and the Levite. I kind of understand going to the other side and just walking by. That's on the one hand. And on the other hand, there's just so many people to help, and I can't help everyone like this.” So you get to a point where you start asking, “Why should I help anyone like this?”. And what Jesus is ... And this is the radical point and I'm going to bring in the gospel at the very beginning. Because of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I don't have to show mercy to get mercy. I don't have to show mercy to get mercy. I get to show mercy because I got mercy. It changes everything. I got mercy from God. This morning, I woke up and I repented of my sin, why? Because I'm a sinner. And every single one of us, we need to repent of sin. And God extends grace. When he extends grace, it changes everything. And now, it melts that numbness, that desensitization, and then we can continue to serve. We don't show mercy to earn mercy. We've been given mercy therefore, we show mercy. So the context is in Luke 10:25, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” This isn't just a lawyer like real estate lawyer, this is a lawyer of God's law. This is a lawyer that knows the Old Testament law. Not just the 10 laws, but all the ceremonial laws and all the institutional laws. He knew the law. He devoted himself to this noble tradition and he comes to Jesus and he asks a good question, but he asks it with a very questioning posture of heart. Right question, wrong heart. Here's the thing, whenever anyone comes to you and says, “How shall I inherit eternal life?” What's your answer. I know my answer is, trust in Jesus, repent of your sin, and submit to God. Receive God's grace and you get saved. Jesus doesn't go there. And then you got to ask the question, why doesn't he go there? Well, he doesn't go there because this guy thinks that he's already got it. This guy thinks he's done enough. This guy thinks that he has kept the law. He's never missed a Jewish feast or sacrifice. He's devoted himself to the study of law and traditions. He's got all the bases covered. Kept the Sabbath, tithed from his spice rack. He thinks he's got it. He thinks he's in. And what he wants to do is he wants to undermine Jesus' ministry of telling people, you need to repent and turn in faith back to God. He's not a pagan. He's not a Samaritan, people you look down on, and he's testing Jesus in front of a crowd. And what does Jesus do? Jesus responds to his question with a question, verse 26, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?”. This guy knows the law and he knows what's at the heart of the law. And the heart of the law is summarized with love God and love people. That's verses 27, 28. The first commandment, love God with all of your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, with all of your mind, with every fiber of your being. Love God completely, 100%, and love your neighbor as much as you love yourself, as much as you care for your own needs, as much as you work to provide for your own needs. As much as you think of yourself, think of your neighbor, be a good neighbor. And those who dislike your neighbor, love your neighbor. That's the law. And we see that he did say the right thing. Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live.” The story should end there. Why doesn't the story end there? It doesn't end there because this gentleman felt uncomfortable. In the same way when you read passages like the Good Samaritan and you feel a little discomfort because you feel like you're falling short, that you're not living a life full of compassion, he feels it. And instead of going to the Lord and saying, “Lord, something's wrong in my heart. Love my neighbor as myself? I despise my neighbors. My neighbors are awful.” Not my neighbors in particular, some of them. Most of my neighbors are great. So that's why he does what he does in verse 29. And look at the text. This is really important. “He, desiring to justify himself said, ‘Who is my neighbor?’” Why does he justify himself? Because he feels something. What is he feeling at that moment? What is he trying to cover? He feels that he hasn't done enough. He feels that he's fallen short. He feels a tinge of shame or guilt or regret. The context of this parable is a question of salvation, the context isn't what should I do to be a good Christian? How should I live my life? The context is, how do I become a Christian? And Jesus answers, you can save yourself theoretically. You just have to look love God with everything you got and your neighbor as yourself. And then Jesus tells him the story, which exposes that not only does he not love his neighbor, he actually despises his neighbor. Who does Jesus put at the very center of the story? It's called the Parable of the Good, what? Samaritan. The history between the Jews and Samaritans. You can just look into it. They hated each other. The Jews thought that the Samaritans were half-breed. They wouldn't even dine together. So Jesus is saying, “You think you're saved?” I'm not only going to answer your question of salvation. I'm also going to expose how much hate is in your heart. Like think of the person that you hate the most, and there is that person. Every Michael Scott has a Toby. Imagine this parable. This is Michael Scott coming to Jesus and saying, “What do I need to do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus is like, “Let me tell you a story about this man walking from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he got mugged. And Jim walked by and Pam walked by, but Toby stopped.” That's a humorous way to think about it. Now, it's about to get real. Let me tell you a story of the good, whatever the opposite political party that you're voting for. Let me tell you a story of the good Trump supporter with a MAGA hat and a Trump bumper sticker on his donkey. Let me tell you that story. That just got uncomfortable. Let me tell you a story of the Biden supporter who got down and showed compassion. Now, that got really uncomfortable. That's what's going on in this guy's heart. I'm professing that I love my neighbor. What if my neighbor's different than me? What if deep in my heart, I despise my neighbor? I don't say it out loud, but that's exactly what's going on in the text. Why is he trying to justify himself? Because he's trying to cover that shape, that regret, that hate. He doesn't like what he sees in his own heart. There's a cognitive dissonance. It's not lining up with what he said. His heart isn't lining up with what he professes with his mouth. Jesus said, “They profess to love me with their mouth, but their hearts are far from me.”. It's the same thing that happened with Adam and Eve. When Adam and Eve sinned, the very first thing that they did before going into hiding from God, what's the very first thing they did? They realized that they were naked and ashamed. So they covered themselves. They justified themselves with fig leaves. That's exactly what this guy is trying to do. Gregory of Nazianzus said, “Why? What changed? What changed? Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed and then all of a sudden they sin and they have to cover themselves, what changed?” He says, “Well, before the sin, before the fall, they were ensconced, clothed in the love and acceptance of God so their nakedness didn't bother them. And through sin, they strip themselves of God's love and acceptance and we're left with a sense of exposure, fear, shame, and guilt.”. The Jews looked down on these people. The Jews claim this lawyer claimed to love people in theory, but people in reality are difficult to love. And that's why we need to exercise and grow in compassion. Luke 10:33, “A Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.” There's a Greek word splagchnizomai. It's to feel pity in the inner most being. It's the deepest form of empathy. It's actually the most common descriptive, emotive word of Jesus Christ's heart or what was happening in Jesus' heart. He felt compassion. That's why he came to die for our sins. In the story of a prodigal son, the father, when he sees his son running to him, he said he had pity, he had compassion on him and ran toward his son. Luke 10:34 and 35 shows us that it's costly to show this compassion. Not just feel it, but to actually act on it. “He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. And then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day, he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper saying, ‘Take care of him and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back’” It's costly. He shows compassion. This is holistic care. He's showing that it was unexpected, but he's willing to take his own resources, his own funds in order to help this person. And then at the end, Luke 10:36-37, “Jesus says, ‘Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?’” The lawyer still doesn't get it. And he can't even say, the Samaritan. He can't bring himself to say, the Samaritan. He can't bring himself to say that my enemy is actually better than me in a hypothetical story. He says, “The third one.” The one who showed him mercy, Jesus said, “You go and do likewise.” So what's the standard to inherit eternal life? Love God with everything you got and be a good neighbor and love your neighbor as much as yourself. Basically what he's saying is, help anyone and everyone that God brings into your path. This is why I said the impossibility of self-salvation. Because in our culture, when you say, “Every single one, we need to repent of sin because not one of us is good enough.” And then everyone in our culture pushes back with the self-righteousness, “I am a good person. I've never hurt anybody.” That's not the standard. The standard is help everybody. Not just don't hurt anybody, help everybody. That's the standard. You want to earn your way to heaven, that's the standard. And what's Jesus trying to do? He's trying to get him to this place where he says, “That's impossible. Jesus, how can you expect that?” And Jesus is like, “That's the whole point. That's why I'm here.”. And so that brings me to point two is the impossibility of selfless love. So it's impossible to save yourself and this selfless love is impossible. It's to get us to a place where we know the world will be a better place if this were true, but it's impossible to do. But what's fascinating is we do long for it. We long for utopia where people are loving, where people are good and generous and kind and serve one another and extend compassion and mercy. Here's a really interesting thing. Apart from a worldview that God is, that God exists, that God is love, altruism and selfless love does not make any sense. John Lehrer writing about altruism he says, “It's always been a sticky subject for evolutionary biology. And altruism is the act of helping someone else at a steep, personal cost.” Charles Darwin wrote about this and he said that altruism was a potentially fatal challenge to his theory of natural selection. And in the descent of man, he writes, “He who was ready to sacrifice his life, as many a savage has been, rather than betray his comrades would often leave no offspring to inherit his noble nature.” It's been a paradox for many. In the 1950s, the biologist J. B. S. Haldane, someone asked him, “How far would you go to save the life of another person?” He said this, he said, “I would jump into a river to save two brothers, not one.” He said, “I would save eight cousins, but not seven.” So I'm willing to sacrifice my life for another, as long as it's on my terms of multiple people, et cetera. This moral arithmetic that he used. The famous example of this is Catherine Susan "Kitty" Genovese in New York city. She was stabbed to death in the Kew Gardens neighborhood of the borough New York City, March 13th, 1964. And that led to the Genovese syndrome, especially diffusion of responsibility. Why didn't anybody help her? They thought, “Why should I?” People saw this happen, they'd say “Why should I help, risk myself? Someone else should do it.” And everybody was morally outraged by that. Why are we morally outraged by that? Why are we morally outraged that you had a chance to help this person and you didn't? Why are we morally outraged by that? Because we know it's written on our hearts. You can't find an explanation of why that moral outrage exists, why we know that we should help when we have an opportunity to help. It only makes sense if there is a true God, a living God, the teaching of Jesus, this is what makes it so awesome. The world would be a better place. Not just for you, it would be a better place for absolutely everybody. Nietzsche wrote in The Will to Power, he says, “Another Christian concept no less crazy, the concept of equality of souls before God. This concept furnishes the prototype of all theories of equal rights.” Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence, what does he write? “All men are created equal. This is a self-evident truth.” Is this self-evident? That everybody is created equal. Equal in what sense? If you just look at the facts and the face of it, it's almost absurd to claim that everybody is equal. Equal in what? We're not equal in height. We're not equal in weight. We're not equal in strength, intelligence, stamina, truthfulness. There's inequality all around us. How can we say we are all created equal? In what sense? In the most valuable sense, that every human soul, every human life is valuable to God. That you'd remove that foundation and now you're building a house of morality on sin. And the preciousness and equal worth of every human life is a Christian idea. You just see that Christian idea when it's actually put into practice. And that's what did change the Roman empire. Christians have always believed that God places infinite value on each human life. The pagan emperor, Julian wrote this, “The Impious Galileans ... ” That's how he call Christians, “ ... they relieve both their own poor and ours. It is shameful that ours should be so destitute of our assistance.” Look at world history, Christians when faithful to the gospel, when faithful to the scriptures, they've been a huge blessing to the world. Prior to Christianity, the Greeks and the Romans had little to no interest in the poor. For example, the first ecumenical council was in the Nicaea, 325. That's when bishops were directed to build hospices next to cathedrals. There was never such a thing as hospices. The elderly and the sick were left to fend for themselves. The first hospital was built by St. Basil in Caesarea in 369. By the middle age, hospitals covered all of Europe and even beyond. In fact, Christian hospitals were the world's first voluntary charitable institutions. Care for mentally ill, that was a Christian idea. Florence Nightingale formed the Red Cross in order to love his enemies in times of war and genocide. The vast majority of hospitals were started by Christians, by Catholics, Presbyterians, Protestants, and even their names reflect this. We know that loving people selflessly is good. It's written on our hearts. We're outraged when it's not done. And we ourselves aren't consistent with what we know we should do. So what do we do with this gap? We know we should love selflessly. If we don't, we're outraged when other people don't, we're not outraged when we don't. So what do we need? What solves this? This is what I said in the beginning. I can't guilt you into loving people. I try with my daughters, if one of them isn't loving another one like, “You need to love your sister. If you don't, there's like this punishment, like no iPad for you. You got to love your sister.” You can't force someone into loving another person. You can try to guilt them into it, you can try to shame them into it. It's always temporary` and it's always on the surface. What's the only way to get people to love other people? It's only in the gospel. It's only the good news. And this is point three, the only good Samaritan. It's awesome to think about this utopia, where everyone loves each other, but it's impossible. And this is what Jesus is doing. He's trying to get the lawyer to a point of desperation where he says, “If that's the standard for eternal life, then definitely I haven't gotten it. Before Jesus saves that guy, he's trying to get that guy lost. Before he gets him saved, he wants to get him lost. He's presenting God's standards. And he wants this guy to see how far he's fallen short, that his heart is actually full of hate. God requires this love, a love that can't be required. But he doesn't just command love, he compels love by showing us how much he loved us. That Jesus Christ is the only true good Samaritan. In the story of The Good Samaritan, we are not the good Samaritan, we're the guy on the ground. He's trying to get the lawyer to see himself, “I'm on the ground and I'm being offered help by a Samaritan. I'm on the ground and I'm being offered help by my enemy. Will I accept that help?” That's what's going on. And Jesus is saying, you actually, like you say you've fulfilled the first commandment, you haven't even come close because the second commandment is easier and your terrible. So you need to accept the grace from this Samaritan, the Samaritan who at his own cost comes to help you. This Samaritan, who doesn't pour out oil and wine, but he pours out his blood and his body is broken in order to extend us mercy, in order to give us compassion, in order to say, “Look, I'm dying on a cross for your law breaking, and I'm going to give you the blessing of my law keeping. And on the cross. I'm going to take your penalty of law breaking in order to do that through the double amputation.” This is how we experienced the grace of God. And when you see that Jesus did that for you, for me, despite our wickedness, despite all our sin. Everything that he knows, we know, we know what's deep inside and we try to hide it. He knows. So don't justify it. Don't don't let yourself righteousness keep you from accepting the grace of God. And when you know that you're saved by grace, when you know that God extends mercy to you, compassion to you, that then begins to melt your he art in order to extend compassion to others. So here's a word for us, for Bostonians, especially for ... We need to repent not just of our sins, our bad works, we also need to repent of our good works. We need to repent of thinking that our good works are what's going to get us into Heaven. We need to repent of our self-righteousness. And by the way, every one of us struggles with this. I struggle with this all the time. The longer I'm in the ministry, the more sacrifices that I make for the Lord. I'm like, “I've given years to you, God, where's my blessing?” I don't know if anyone else has ever done that. The more sacrifices you make, the more you're like I should be getting more. And God's like, self-righteousness, you deserve nothing, you deserve hell. And you're lucky that you're even alive. That's what grace does, it, like, “You deserve nothing. You're lucky your heart is beating today. Now, keep doing what I called you to do.” And everything else is icing on the cake. So we are to repent of our sins and self-righteousness. Galatians 3:11-14, “Now, it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law for the righteous shall live by faith. But the law is not a faith rather the one who does them shall live by them. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. For it is written, cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree so that in Christ Jesus, the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles so that we might receive the promised spirit through faith.”. Jesus did it all and there's no better reason to love than love. Jesus loved this for no reason, whatever in ourselves. He love us not because we're lovely, but because he's loving. And unconditional love frees us to love. And this parable isn't about getting us to be people who act once in a while with mercy, it's to get us to a point where we live a life of compassion, a life of mercy. Why does Jesus start with the law? He starts with the law to get this gentleman lost. He gets into a point where he sees, I haven't even come close. Then Jesus pays for our sin. Now what happens with the law? Does the law disappear? No, we're still called to love God with all of our being and love our neighbor as ourselves and to grow in both of those. The law is always a mirror of how you're doing. There's some mirrors that just make you look better. I don't know what it is, it must be the lighting or something. My brother, Vlad], in his apartment, that mirror makes me look so good. Every time I'm like, “Vlad, I just need to go to the bathroom real quick. Oh yeah, that looks great.” And that's why people take selfies in restaurant bathrooms, I don't know what it is, restaurant bathroom, maybe dimly lit or something. Nobody ever takes selfies at the doctor's office or the dental. Nobody does that. Because the light's different. It exposes more of your imperfections. God starts with the law to expose our imperfections, to show us, this is what you got to work on. And the Apostle James said, when you read the holy scriptures it's like a mirror. The Look gaze deep into, where do I need to change? And then God extends grace and fuels us with the Holy Spirit in order to change. Who is my neighbor? The answer isn't who is my neighbor, but am I a good neighbor? That's what Jesus tells him at the end. Am I a good neighbor? Am I a good neighbor to whom? Literally any human being with a legitimate need, literally any human being with a legitimate need. And obviously, we can't help everybody, but I like Andy Stanley's comment where he says, “Do for one, what you would like to do for all.”. 1 John 3:17-18, “But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need yet closes heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and truth.” And the other thing I just want to point out here at the end. When we talk about mercy and when we talk of compassion, usually we think of those things as just doing things for people, helping people with food and helping people with rent and helping people with their car, helping them with whatever physical needs that they have. But one of the interesting things that Jesus Christ here is doing, he's actually in a story using a story about a good Samaritan, he is extending compassion to this gentlemen by telling the gentleman the truth. Jesus is being a good Samaritan for this gentleman and Jesus is trying to meet his greatest need. And his greatest need is to see that he's blinded by his self-righteousness. It doesn't feel like help to the gentlemen at that moment. Sometimes compassion doesn't feel like compassion. Sometimes compassion feels like you just got roasted by Jesus and you walk away in front of a crowd. But sometimes that's what we need. We need that truth to break the hardness of our hearts. Jesus is doing, he's embodying the compassion and telling this man the truth. So love is discerning. You need to discern, how can I extend compassion? What is this person's greatest need at this moment. Sometimes it's an act of love and sometimes it's a word of truth. And in this text, Jesus twice points out, go and do it. Oh, you know the law? Go and do it. And at the very end, he shows him, you didn't know the law and you need Jesus, the gospel. And then he says, “Go and do it again.” Meaning that works always follow salvation, mercy follows mercy. What the law demands, the gospel produces. So we're saved by grace through faith for works that God has predestined before the foundation of the world. And I'll close with Romans 8:1-4, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, for the law of the spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law weakened by the flesh could not do by sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin. He condemned sin in the flesh in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk, not according to the flesh, but according to the spirit.”. Everything that God calls us to do, he's already done in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Receive that grace, then he gives us the Holy Spirit to live out and do what he's called us to do. Can you imagine a world without grace? Can you imagine a world without Christ? Can you imagine a world without love? It's almost impossible to. Now, can you imagine a world with true selfless love? Where people aren't just talking about racial divides and financial divides and political divides. People are just talking about how they're serving one another, how they're caring for one another, how they're extending grace to one another. That's what Jesus Christ does and it starts with us. Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Let's pray. Jesus, we thank you for not just giving us the law, but fulfilling the law. And we thank you that you often speak a hard truth into our hearts in order to soften our hearts and we need that. We need that on a daily basis. Lord, we do repent of sin and we do receive your mercy. And we thank you for your compassion. We praise you for the gracious and loving God that you are and we thank you for being that God, and we pray all this in Christ's holy name, amen.


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