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Watch 2022 online sermons » Andy Stanley » Andy Stanley - Redefining Terms

Andy Stanley - Redefining Terms


Andy Stanley - Redefining Terms
TOPICS: Investigating Jesus

So do you know who it is virtually impossible not to like? Who it is virtually impossible not to want to be like, or to be more like? It's that person who stopped, who went out of their way to help you and didn't expect or require anything from you. They saw you in need and they saw a need and they just met it. They saw that something needed to be done and they just stepped up and they did it. And they didn't just walk by and talk themselves out of it. When you have an experience like that, and we've all had those experiences I hope. You just never forget those folks. I'll tell you one of mine. It's very odd. And I've never told this story before because it's a little long and it's a little odd, but I'm gonna try to take several hours and shrink it down.

I was in Florida, I went to an event. I woke up that morning, I didn't want to eat breakfast. So I didn't eat breakfast. I went to the event, it was a half day event. They provided lunch. The lunch didn't look appetizing, so I didn't eat lunch. So then I went to the airport and I had a late, late, early evening flight. And I thought I'll just get some work done. So I work, work, work, nothing at the airport looked appetizing to me. I was trying to eat healthy, I still do. But I was, this is by the way, this is like 14 years ago. That's important because it was before Uber, which is important in just a minute in the story. In fact, I think Uber launched the next year actually. But anyway, so then the flight's delayed because there was bad weather in Atlanta.

So I'm in Florida. So we wait, wait, wait. So the flight's delayed two hours, the plane gets there, they said, "Hey, it's a quick turnaround and it's a short flight". So we get on, they pull off away from the gate, bad weather in Atlanta, we sit there two and a half more hours. So I haven't had breakfast, lunch or dinner. And I've never had blood sugar problems before so I didn't really know what was going on in my body. So anyway we land, I checked a bag. I get to baggage claim and I can't read the screen. It's like totally blurry about where my bag. So I thought, I've have my contacts in all day, so I paw my contacts out, I put my glasses on, and everything's still kind of blurry. I finally get in my bag, get in the little bus thing that takes you out to hinterland to find my car.

Fortunately I remembered which aisle I was on because I was having a hard time reading my phone. And silly me, this is now about 11 o'clock at night. It's hardly anybody out there. I get in my car, I get lost in the parking lot to get out of the parking lot because I can't see. Things are getting blurrier and blurrier. I'm like, what is happening to me? Didn't have any other symptoms. So then this was, I don't wanna advise this okay? This is probably why I haven't shared the story before. I thought, well, this is gonna get better. So I make my way to the highway. So I'm on 85, I'm going through town, and now I'm sweating, I got the windows down. I got the air conditioning on. I keep checking my pulse am I having a heart attack? I'm like, what is happening? But it's getting worse and worse.

So I've got the flashers on, I'm in the right-hand lane. Is anybody feeling anxiety? I wanna get through this quick before I trigger your anxiety. I know, this is why I haven't shared this story before. Anyway, it works out, I'm here. But anyway, so I'm in my Land Cruiser. I had this old Land Cruiser and I'm in the right lane, flashers on and I'm praying. And here's what I'm praying. And it's not because I'm a great person, but I was praying God, please don't let me hurt anybody. 'Cause I thought I am about to pass out and I'm gonna wreck my car and hurt somebody.

So I'm downtown Atlanta, finally get to an exit, I get off and this is what I remember. I remember pulling up at the end of the exit ramp and there's this giant red light in the sky and I realize that's a red light. But my vision is so blurry, it's about this big around, okay? I'm sitting there, I'm trying to breathe, and I've got all this anxiety and I look over, I see this blurry white and blue kind of neon looking thing. I'm thinking that has to be a Chevron station or some sort of gas station. I take a right and I get in the parking lot. And I was, I mean, I've never experienced anything like this.

So I'm sitting there thinking, what am I gonna do? I'm downtown Atlanta so I get out, I go in. I walk to the back of the place. I'm looking for some orange juice 'cause by now I'm thinking okay, this has gotta be a blood sugar thing. So this is a place, they don't sell much orange juice, okay? So I wanna be polite, okay? So finally I find something orange juice-ish, and I'm just drinking this stuff. And I realize, I look over and there's the guy, there's only one guy in there. He works there and he's behind like this three-inch bulletproof glass. This is where I am, okay? And he's looking at me like, are you gonna pay for that? So I walk over and I'm like, I'm having a little bit of a medical thing. I think I'm gonna be fine. I said I need you to call my wife. He said, well we can't use the phone except for business. I'm like no I want to use my phone. I couldn't read my phone, that's how bad it was.

So I talk him into it. He calls Sandra, hands it back. I say, honey, I'll be fine, I'm just gonna be late. And she says, "Do you want me to come get you"? I'm like no, I'm gonna figure this out. Then I say, and now I need you to call me a cab. He's like, well we can't, this is just a business. I said, we've covered that. I said here's my phone. I mean, I was polite, and he was trying, but he's like, what's this crazy guy? And I'm all dressed up, okay? And it's midnight and he's wondering what's going on. And he has seen everything I think. Anyway so he calls a cab. So I'm waiting, waiting, thinking this is gonna get better. It's not, it's hard to tell if it's getting better, but I'm not about to get in my car and drive okay? That was not an option.

So up drive, so I'm outside and there's so much to this story. People kept asking me for money 'cause I'm all dressed up and so I'm like, sure, I'm just happy that I'm not driving the car. So I give away a little bit of cash. Anyway, so up drives this car and it wasn't really an actual cab. The guy just stuck something on the top. This is again before Uber, okay? And out walks this Middle Eastern young man, probably in his twenties. And I said, "Hey, I'd call a cab". I said, "Hey, this is my car". And I'm trying to explain to him that I shouldn't be driving. And I can tell he thinks I'm drunk. I'm like, I'm not drunk. I said, it's a medical thing. I said, so really, I don't just need a ride home. I need somebody to drive me home. Otherwise my car is gonna be stuck down here. And tomorrow and I'm just trying to think through the day and he's kinda looking at me. He says, "Okay, hold on, I have a friend who might can help".

So he gets on his phone. And he said I have a friend in Marietta. Now for those of you who don't live in the Atlanta area, I'm downtown. I live in a city called Alpharetta, that's one way. And Marietta's a different way and it's midnight. So he is calling his friend in Marietta and I'm like, "Are you sure"? And he goes, yeah, but he couldn't get him. And he couldn't get him, finally he gets him. And he says, okay, he's gonna meet us if you'll just tell me what exit we get off the highway, he gonna meet us there. And then he'll just, we'll go to your house and then he'll drive me back down here. I'm like really? He said, "Yeah man, it's okay". I'm like, "Are you sure"? He goes, "Oh yeah, it's fine". I'm like, okay, so anyway, so I give this guy I just met my car key and I get in the car with him. I get in the passenger seat, he's in the driver's seat. And off we go.

And as we're getting on 85 to head back through the connector, head back through the town, it dawned on me, I've not even, I've been just so focused on myself. I said, "I'm so sorry, what is your name"? He said, "My name is Muhammad". And I said, well I had already told him my name, I said, "Well, Muhammad, I'm a pastor, and I cannot wait to tell my friends and my wife that I was saved by Muhammad". And he didn't get it. I don't think he got it. I just thought this is perfect. I'm being saved by my, so he drives me all the way. So we finally get to the exit. By this time, I can see. I mean, it was terrible, again I'd learned later, this is if you get to that part of blood sugar issues, there's only two more levels and then you're out. So it was bad. But anyway, so we get to the gas station. I say, hey just pull over right here, tell your friend to meet us here. And so it took about 30 minutes for his buddy to get there. I mean they've gone way out of their way for this stranger.

So I go into the gas station there at the new exit, the ATM, and I'm gonna get out all the money I can to give these guys. I'm so grateful. All I could get was $200, which and he didn't even wanna take that. He's like, oh no, no, no. I'm like, are you kidding me? I mean, I can't, I was just so extraordinarily grateful. His buddy shows up. I hug both of them. They're like my best friends. Thank you. You really have, I just felt like they both saved me. And the moral of the story is when stuff like that happens, I know that's kind of dramatic. You just don't forget people like that because they came to the rescue. Now, some of you are listening to that story and you're thinking, Andy, that's pretty dramatic. But you know what? I think it might have been better if you hadn't told us the guy was Middle Eastern and his name was Muhammad. You could have left that part off. And if that bothers you a little bit, you're not gonna believe what Jesus says in today's episode of part four of "Investigating Jesus". "Investigating Jesus: How We Know and Why We Follow".

Now, as we said throughout this series, these are really important issues right here because we're asking the question, how do we know there's anything that there's even anything to the story of Jesus? And if there is something to the story of Jesus, why should we bother to follow? Because the invitation to follow Jesus is all-encompassing. It includes your time and your money and your relationships and your career and your school. I mean following Jesus, it's an all or nothing kind of proposition. So for modern people to consider following Jesus, I mean we better have a really, really, really good reason. And the other reason it's such an important issue is because Christianity, or I should say the credibility of Christianity actually rises and falls on the identity of this single individual, Jesus of Nazareth, which means, and we've said this each time in this series, which means if you are considering faith, or if you are reconsidering faith, or if you are in the process of unconsidering faith, there's really just one pertinent question for you to wrestle with.

And the question does not, does God exist? I mean, that's fun to talk about. The question isn't is the entire Bible true. That's fun to talk about as well. But the issue when it comes to Christianity really boils down to this. Is Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John a reliable account of actual events? And if any of these one, if any of these four accounts of the life of Jesus are true, then regardless of what you've believed in the past or where you've been or what you've done, you should sit up straight. We should all sit up straight and pay attention. Because if any one of these is a reliable account of actual events, then what Jesus did actually, he actually did, or what it says that Jesus did, he actually did. And what he taught, he actually taught. So the issue is one or more of the gospels, and all of Christianity rises in falls on that question.

So in this series, we're actually just exploring one of the accounts of the life of Jesus written by Luke named actually for the author Luke, who apparently was a first century doctor who knew the main characters in the story of Jesus. He knew Peter, he traveled all over the Mediterranean rim with the apostle Paul. He knew James, the brother of Jesus, and right up front, as we've said throughout in this gospel right up front, he tells us that he's not writing religious literature. This isn't sacred religious literature. He's actually just documenting someone's life, the life of Jesus of Nazareth. And he wasn't alone because the events surrounding the life of Jesus were so amazing, were just so life-changing and not just life-changing, but culture shifting, the story had to be told. So here's what he says at the very beginning of his account of the life of Jesus.

He says many, I'm not the only one, and many isn't four, many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled or the things that happened among us right here among us. Just as they were handed down to us by those who were from the first eyewitnesses and servants of the word. So Luke is not writing the Bible. Luke is just telling us what happened. And later this first century document would be included in the documents that make up what we call the Bible. So he starts off by detailing Jesus' birth. Then as we said in part two, then he introduces us to the warm-up act, John the Baptist. And then he gives us a summary of Jesus' entire life mission. He said that Jesus said this, I must proclaim, I must proclaim the good news. I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God. That is why I was sent.

So Luke's like here's Jesus' mission statement to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God. And we said last time, if the version of faith that you were raised on, or raised in, or the version of faith that you're a part of right now, if it doesn't strike you as good news, it's probably not the Jesus version. And the whole idea of the kingdom of God, Jesus presenting the kingdom of God. This represents the reign and the rule of God. And Luke says this is what was so amazing about Jesus. When Jesus talked about God's rule either on earth or over the life of a person, it was inviting. It was relational. It was without borders. It was as if, Luke would tell us, it was as if everybody was invited and everybody was included. That Luke would say, Luke would tell us and we'll discover as you read the gospel of Luke, it's like he said, it's like Jesus was saying that God doesn't recognize and God has little patience for the artificial stratification of the human race, that every single culture and every single generation tries to impose on the human race.

That every one was endowed with certain inherent worth, that everybody had value that everybody was made in the image of God. And that the caste system or the caste type systems that again permeated ancient time world and permeate parts of the world today. Jesus had no patience for that because his Father had no patience for that because that's not how he viewed the world. That everyone should be treated with dignity and worth, which by the way, is really kind of self-evident to us. But it was not self-evident in the ancient world. And it wasn't self-evident until Jesus and wherever Jesus followers stubbornly embraced, wherever they stubbornly embraced, defended, and modeled Jesus' new covenant command to love others as God through Christ has loved us, people flourished. The world was a better place and all the caste systems and the differentiating of types of people, all of that began to fall away.

So one occasion, Jesus spoke about this directly and Luke documents this occasion where Jesus really goes out of his way to reiterate this new and unique vision for his followers, which was a new and unique vision for the world. And it's like Luke leans in and says, okay, this is so important. This is why I included this. This is how epic the words of Jesus. This is why this story had to be told. Here's what he says, Luke chapter 10, on one occasion, on one occasion an expert in the law, a lawyer, stood up to test Jesus. He had a question, but it was a test, that's important. "Teacher," he said, "What must I do to inherit eternal life"?

Now eternal life in the first century, first century Judeans, what he's asking is how do I know I get to participate in God's future kingdom? How do I get to participate in God's future kingdom? That's what eternal life, that's what they meant by eternal life. Another words, this attorney wants to make sure he's got a reserved seat. Now he's testing Jesus, but he's also genuinely curious because the answer to the question how do you reserve a seat in God's future kingdom wasn't all that clear from the law and the prophets. But Jesus is smart and he knows that this is a test. And he knows that there's a question behind the question. So Jesus did what Jesus does. He responds with a question. So he says, well, you're a lawyer, what is written in the law? How do you read it? In other words, you tell us and you tell me, we'll both know. I mean, you're a lawyer. You should know this, right?

So then the lawyer, as you may know, 'cause this is such a familiar story. The lawyer recites back to Jesus and Jesus' audience what they were all taught as children is kind of the synopsis of the law. That somehow should point the way to making sure you have a reserved seat in God's future kingdom. So he says back to Jesus, well, this is how I read it. This is what I think the answer is, love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind. Now this is an important part of the story. Earlier, somebody had asked Jesus a similar question and in that case, Jesus actually recited this back as the answer to the question asked, but he added a part that we're all familiar with from Leviticus 19 verse 18, he added the phrase and your neighbor as yourself. 'Cause somebody said, "Hey, what's the greatest commandment"? Jesus says, "Well, there's not greatest commandment, there's two greatest commandments and they're actually the same commandment because they are actually different sides of the same coin".

Now this when Jesus added and your neighbor as yourself to what was kind of a formulaic answer to first century Judeans, it caused quite a stir. But the reason Jesus added and your neighbor as yourself, because he was making a point. This is when Luke wants to lean in and say, "And this is the point". His point was that love for God is demonstrated by love for others. That love for God, this was Jesus, the point of his ministry. This is why it's good news. This is why the reign and rule of God is not something to be resisted. That love for God is demonstrated by love for others. Well anyway, apparently this lawyer was there when Jesus added on and your neighbor as yourself. So he recites kind of the Sunday school answer to the question of how can I know for sure I'm gonna have eternal life. Then he smiles at Jesus and he adds, and I've been listening Jesus, and love your neighbor as yourself.

Well, Jesus is so happy. Somebody is finally paying attention, starting to get this, right? And Jesus looks at him and says something that Jesus almost never says in the gospels. You have answered correctly because mostly people answer Jesus incorrectly. So this is like this guy's feeling pretty good about himself. Jesus replied, "Do this". Do this. Well what's this? This isn't the love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Because you can't measure that. You have no idea. Do this is referring specifically to the last part and love your neighbor as yourself. And if you do, Jesus said, "Hey, Mr. Judean lawyer, you'll have a reservation in God's future kingdom".

All right, anybody else have a question? But the lawyer doesn't sit down because he is not finished. And the text says, Luke tells us, because somebody who was there told Luke, but he, the lawyer, was just like us. He wanted to justify himself. Don't we all? Don't you want to think that you're okay? That you and God are fine? That you and God, you know, it's all worked out. That you and Jesus got it all worked out. Eric Church says me and Jesus got that all worked out. Right? Isn't that how we are? We know we all wanna justify ourself, of course we do. So he doesn't sit back down. He says, so he ask Jesus, this is second part of the question.

Okay, all right, if I'm gonna reserve the spot in God's future kingdom, I gotta love my neighbor as myself. But you gotta be more specific than that. And who, here's the famous question, and who is my neighbor? Now this is how this question was an attempt to justify himself. What he's really asking is what is the minimum amount of neighbor loving required to reserve a spot in God's future kingdom, okay? Don't just tell me love. That's too open-ended. I want, you gotta be, I wanna know what is the minimum amount? Now for first century, not every century, but for first century Judeans, a neighbor was another Judean. This was very ethnocentric to love your neighbors were other Judeans because they were, Rome was there. There were different countries that had become part of that culture. And so they're sort of taking care of themselves. So his question is which subset of my Judean brothers and sisters do I have to love, hoping he had already met the requirement.

And then, once again, in typical Jesus fashion, Jesus didn't answer the question he asked. Jesus answers the question that he should have asked. Because the real question isn't who is my neighbor, the real question that Jesus wanted him to understand was this question. What does neighbor love look like? And what does neighbor love act like? Because Jesus' actual agenda was this question. What is God like? And then, as many of you know, Jesus launches into the most disruptive, culturally insensitive, disorienting, paradigm-shifting parable of all of his ministry. And it is a parable that we all know, which is amazing because it's 2,000 years old and people all over the world in almost every language know this story. But more important than knowing the story, Jesus' point is simply this, this is what it looks like to follow me because this is what your Father in heaven is like.

So he smiles, the man's still standing there. Everybody's waiting for an answer to the question. Jesus says, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was attacked by robbers". And everybody's like, wait, weren't we just talking about neighbors? Now we're talking about robbers? But this is what Jesus did, 'cause everybody's leaning in 'cause they know that this is going somewhere. And this was familiar context for them because anybody going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, everybody knew that path. It's about 17 miles. It's rocky, there's caves, there's desert. It was dangerous. It's always a little bit dangerous, it was so dangerous back then. So this man, this is something that happened all the time and could have happened to anyone in Jesus' audience. So he's on his way from Jerusalem down to Jericho. And he's set upon by robbers.

And then Jesus continues, "And they stripped him of his clothes". Because clothes were very valuable. They stripped him of his clothes and they beat him and they went away leaving him half dead and immediately everybody in Jesus' audience knew what would happen next. The sun would go down, either the cold would kill him, or animals would find him and they would eat him before he had already passed away. This happened all the time. Then Jesus goes on. Now remember this is a parable, Jesus is making the whole thing up. None of this, this could have happened, but this is a made up story in order to make a single point. And everybody's leaning in. And of course the lawyer's like, "I hope we get back to the neighbor thing, but go ahead".

This is fascinating, right? Jesus says, and then these two religious people, one actually that appears from what Jesus said coming from Jerusalem. So they're all ceremonially clean and all buttoned up with God. These two religious people come by and they see their bruised and bleeding Judean neighbor. And they don't lift a finger. In fact, they probably thought to themselves, well, you know what, he probably deserved this. I mean, this is fate. This is karma. Besides, the law forbids us to kill anyone. But the law does not require us to keep someone from dying. So they didn't. Now if his audience was paying close attention, and I wanna make sure we are. If his audience was paying close attention, and if Jesus' greatest hits formula was correct, that you love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.

Well then these two guys are doomed. The two religious guys are doomed because they did not love their Judean neighbor, which meant they did not love the Lord their God. Even though they were on their way or coming from the city of Jerusalem. And then Jesus pauses for dramatic effect because he's the master storyteller. And he says, "But there was another one, another person came by". But a Samaritan. Now everybody in Jesus audience is like, "Oh you know". Because they probably assumed if this was a real story, a Samaritan is probably who robbed the guy to begin with because the Judeans and Samaritans, as you know if you grew up in church, didn't get along. In fact, Judeans considered Samaritans the least respectable of all people. And consequently as you would imagine, the Samaritans kind of returned the favor because of how they were looked down on and because of how they were treated. In fact, two days before Jesus tells this story, Jesus and the disciples are gonna go through Samaria on their way to Jerusalem instead of going around.

And so they, he sends a couple of his disciples ahead to a Samaritan village and ask permission if they could spend the night there. And the Samaritan said to Jesus and his disciples, "You're not welcome here. You're on your way to Jerusalem and you're Galilean or Judeans. And you are not welcome here". And James and John, Jesus' two disciples come to Jesus. This is amazing. And they say to Jesus, "Jesus, they won't let us spend the night in their Samaritan village, is it okay if we call down fire and destroy the whole village"? Jesus is like, "What"? Yeah, let's just kill them all. It's like, oh God, I thought we were further along than that. It's like, no, we're not gonna call down fire and burn up the village. The point is there's a lot going on between Judeans and Samaritans. And now Jesus, it looks like he looks like he's about to make a Samaritan the hero of this parable, but a Samaritan and his audience is thinking, wait, wait, wait. Surely you're not about to make him the hero, but he did. But it's even worse than that.

If you paid attention to Jesus' parables, and I don't know that Jesus' audience did, but his disciples certainly did because in every single parable that Jesus would tell, there is someone that represents God the father and the disciples, Peter and the guys, are like, oh no, oh no, oh no. He's about to make a Samaritan the God figure in the parable. We're never gonna get this venture off the ground. Does he not understand our culture? I mean this is like the worst thing he could do. But a Samaritan, you know this story. As he traveled, came to where the man was and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He did something. And then Jesus makes this Samaritan out to be the extra mile, are you kidding me, who would even think about doing that variety of hero. In fact, there are six and I counted six, there may be more, six or more expressions of compassion.

So Jesus just, he's just packing it on. He's just loading it on. He's just twisting the knife. He says this, he went, this imaginary Samaritan who came upon this imaginary Judean who'd been robbed. He went to him and he bandaged his wounds, which meant he touched him. He poured oil and wine on the wounds, which means it cost him. Then he put the man on his own donkey, which meant he had to go out of his way. Now he's gonna have to walk and go slower instead of ride. And he brought him to an inn and he took care of him. And the audience is like, wait, wait, wait. The guy spends the night? And Jesus just rubs it in. This wasn't a dump and run. He spent the night caring for this guy.

Then the next day, I mean the audience can, this is just beyond imagination. Nobody would do this. Then the next day, he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. And immediately they do the math in their mind. They're like, are you kidding? This would take care of the guy for like two weeks. You just paid like two weeks of room and board for someone you don't even know. And in the parable, the Samaritan says to the innkeeper, "Hey, I gotta go, but I want you to look after him. And when I return". Oh no, you're gonna come back? Oh yeah. I'm gonna come back and check on this guy. When I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have. Silence, nobody, this is beyond the pale. And what in the world does this have to do with neighbors? You just made up a story no one could ever believe, you lost us as soon as he touched the guy, right?

The lawyer's confused. If you're not a Christian, if you're not a Jesus follower and you walked away. I don't even know how to put words around this next moment, but it's undeniable what I'm about to say, because this actually happened. But again, it's just a reminder of the weight of Jesus' teaching and how it has shaped culture, cultures all over the world. What Jesus did next, his immediate audience would not live long enough to appreciate. Because Jesus was about to redefine neighbor for everyone in every generation and in every nation. Neighbor would no longer be primarily about ethnicity, proximity, do you like me? Jesus expands the idea of neighbor beyond Judea and Galilee. He expands it beyond people you know and don't know.

In fact, he expands it beyond the borders of their scripture. And what's so brilliant, this is why, nobody could make this up. Luke, again, Luke's just trying, about to come off the page. Like can you believe this? And I haven't even got to the best part yet. And Jesus does all of that for every generation and in every nation with one perfectly timed, perfectly created, perfectly delivered question. And it's a question that forces me. And it's a question that forces you. And it's a question that forces everybody everywhere to examine their hearts, our hearts, and our prejudices and our contempt for folks who don't look like us and who don't live like us, who don't believe like us, who don't act like us, who don't worship like us, who don't vote like us, who are basically nothing like us. Who don't even like us. And 2,000 years later, 2,000 years later, the weight of this annoying question still rests on your shoulders. It's annoying. It's annoying because we all know the answer to the question and it's inescapable.

So Jesus looks at the lawyer after he finishes the parable and he says this, "Okay I got a question for you, you've been asking me questions. Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers"? Now if they've been paying attention and if you've been paying attention, and if we've been paying attention, the implication behind this question go way beyond the excitement and the drama of the parable.

Here's what the question really comes down to. Which of these three loved God? Which of these three loved God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength by loving a stranger as himself? And the problem for the lawyer standing there is this. If he answers this question out loud, he's accountable to his answer. It's worse than that. If you answer this question out loud, or if you answer this question out loud, or if I answered this question out loud, I'm accountable to my answer for the question and the lawyer surrounded by Judeans primarily, he can't even bring himself to answer the question directly.

The text says, Luke tells us, the expert in the law required, Jesus had said which one of the three? There's just three. There's two that walk by and there's one that helps, which one of the three was a neighbor? And he's like you know the one, the one couldn't even say Samaritan, but you know, the one who had mercy on him. The one who saw a need, met it, the someone who saw there was something to do that they could do. And they did it. The one that didn't talk themselves out of it. Jesus smiles, looks at him, and he looks at his audience, looks at me, looks at you, looks at us. He says, all right, tell you what, go and just do that.

Do you wanna participate in the kingdom of God on earth? Do you wanna live your life in sync with God's activity in the world? Do you wanna see thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth right now in your earth on your world as it is in heaven he would say to his audience. Then just go do that. When you see a need you can meet, meet it. When there's something you know you can do, do it. Don't talk yourself out of it. Just go. They hated this part. This is maybe why he didn't say it. These are my words, not his. He goes basically saying just go be the Samaritan in the parable. And suddenly neighbor love has no boundaries and neighbor love didn't because God's love doesn't. And this is when Luke just wants to come off the page and grab me by the collar and put his hand behind your head and pull you up close and say, "Can you believe this"?

Nobody thought this way, nobody lived this way. Nobody could even imagine a community like that. Nobody could imagine a world like that. And Jesus asked this perfect question. And by the time Luke writes his gospel, it's already having ripple effects through Judea and Galilee and Samaria and the apostle Paul and others are gonna take it to the uttermost parts of the earth. And what was not self-evident in the ancient world is so self-evident to us because of the teaching and the life of Jesus. And somehow Luke knew, this is the story that has to outlive me and outlive my generation. It's the story that had to be told, because it was the story for everyone and every generation. Because when you hear the story, you know that if we live that way, the world would change. It would change everything.

So back to us. So which one of the three do you think, do I think? Which one of the three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? Don't answer it out loud or you'll be accountable. But, if you wanna see God's kingdom come and see God's will be done. If you are a Jesus follower and not just an admirer, Jesus does not need any more admirers. He has plenty of admirers. He has plenty of believers, he needs doers, because it's the doers that change the world. It's the doers, not even the prayers that change. You can walk by a wounded man and pray that somebody will stop and help him. And that is not loving the Lord your God.

And I know this is challenging, and I know it's like, how far do we take it? And again, we wanna justify ourselves. I get it. I wanna justify myself. But do you wanna change the world, do you wanna change the community? Do you wanna see changes? Very simple, Jesus gave us the formula. He wraps it up in that horrible, wonderful question. You wanna see for those of you if faith has gotten boring for you. Church has gotten boring for you. In fact one of the reasons you're losing faith is 'cause there's just nothing to it. You know why there's nothing to it? You're not doing it. You're just believing it or disbelieving it or debating it. But you step into a realm when you see something that needs to be done, do it. And when there's a need you think you can meet, you meet it.

And you get in a little deep and a little bit over your head, and suddenly you're praying like never before and suddenly your faith comes to life like maybe it's never been alive before. This is the life Jesus invites us into and to live any other kind of life is to simply be religious. You wanna see your faith come to life? Come back to life? Go. This is Jesus' words, not mine. Go, do likewise. Do you know who it is virtually impossible not to like, do you know who it is virtually impossible not to want to be like? Do you know who's influence is virtually impossible to resist? Let's be those people. Let's be that person. Let's be the Samaritan. Let's change the world. And we will pick it up right there next time in part five of "Investigating Jesus". Here's how we know. And here's why we follow.
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