Billy Graham - The Good Samaritan
Now I want you to turn with me tonight to the 10th chapter of Luke. A very familiar passage that every young person here will relate to: young and old. The 10th chapter of Luke, beginning at the 25th verse, "And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tempted him saying, master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life"? Now Jesus was asked that same question about 19 times in his period of ministry that is recorded in the Gospels. In various forms he was asked that question. "What must I do to inherit eternal life"? And he said unto him, "What is written in the law, how readest thou? And he answering said, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy strength, and with all thy mind: and thy neighbor as thyself. And he said unto him, thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live".
But no one has ever done it. No one in the history of the human race has ever loved God with all his heart, mind, and strength all of his life and his neighbor as himself all his life. That's the reason we've all come short, we're all sinners, and we all need to repent of our sins, and find forgiveness at the cross. "But he, willing still now to justify himself", (as many of you would like to justify yourselves) said, "But who is my neighbor"?
See, he was a lawyer and it was his job to cross-examine. He said, "But who is my neighbor? And Jesus answering him said, a certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and he fell among thieves which stripped him of his raiment and wounded him and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was in the place came and looked on him and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him he had compassion on him".
And notice, he did ten things: he had compassion on him, and he went to him, and he bound up his wounds, poured in oil, poured in wine, set him on his own horse, or his beast, and took him to an inn and took care of him. "And on the morrow when he departed he took out two pence and gave them to the host and said unto him, take care of him and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, said Jesus to the lawyer, was the neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves? And the lawyer answered, he that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus, go thou, and do likewise".
Jesus gave this story as an answer to these two questions that this lawyer asked. The first question: "Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life"? Everybody here would like to have eternal life. Everybody would like to know that when you die you're going to heaven. You know you're going to die. It is appointed unto man once to die. You cannot escape death. But you'd like to know that you have eternal life.
Now eternal life does not begin at death. Eternal life begins the moment you know Christ as your Lord and Savior. There are many people that are here and now, alive physically, but you're dead spiritually. You're dead toward God. You have no relationship and no fellowship with God whatsoever. You go to church and you go through all the rituals, and you have religion, but you don't really have Jesus Christ. And so, religion becomes rather dull to you. It's a disappointment to you. So you try to find your kicks in drugs or sex or something else. You turn to other things to escape because there's always this empty place in everybody's heart, that only God can fill because you were made in the image of God, and without God there's an emptiness, there's a lacking. Yet you're always, all your life, searching for something, and you're searching for eternal life. You want eternal life. You can have eternal life right tonight. It could start tonight in your heart as Christ comes to dwell in your life and in your heart.
It was a social question: "Who is my neighbor"? Jesus gave the answer. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy strength, and thy neighbor as thyself". 850 million people on this planet live on a starvation diet at this moment. Are they our neighbors? When is the last time you shared your social life with someone of another race or another ethnic background, or your material goods with the poor, or your knowledge with those who need an education, or your skills with the untrained, and your compassion and prayers for the peace of the world? Have you cared for the aged, the handicapped, the blind, the alcoholic, the dope addict, the morally fallen with your love and concern? Who is your neighbor? What is your responsibility to your neighbor?
In the modern world of transportation and technology, the whole world has become a neighborhood, without being a brotherhood. The whole world suddenly becomes our neighbor. Those people that are suffering in Southeast Asia are our neighbors. Those people suffering in Central Africa are our neighbors, and we have a responsibility to them. The scripture says Jesus came to heal the broken-hearted. A new book has just come out by a psychiatrist entitled, "The Broken Heart". And in Toronto, delegates came from all around the world to a convention on mended hearts. Jesus came to heal broken hearts.
How many broken hearts are here tonight? Your girlfriend walked out on you, or your boyfriend has said "No", and it's broken your heart. And then there was a spiritual question, not only a social question, but a spiritual question. Throughout history the church has shifted back and forth as to its emphasis on personal redemption and social involvement: they both go hand in hand. But this man said, "Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life"? And the spiritual poverty of that man was deeper and worse than the material poverty. And Jesus showed that over and over again: that the spiritual disease is worse than the physical disease.
We can go out to Southeast Asia right now to Thailand, to some of those camps, and it'll break your heart. My son has been there several times and told me some of the most horrifying stories. We see it on our television screens and we say, "What can we do"? We feel so helpless in a moment when people are suffering so terribly in so many parts of the world. It's overwhelming to us. We're to do what we can, they are our neighbors. But there's another disease, right here in Halifax, right here in Nova Scotia, that is worse than the diseases in those camps. It's the spiritual disease: the disease of sin. And you've got it. It's a leprosy. It's worse than cancer because it destroys the soul. It destroys your relationship with God. It comes between you and peace and joy and happiness.
You need to turn your life over to Christ and have this eternal life. "What must I do to be saved"? "How can we be saved"? That's the same question that was asked Paul and Silas in prison. And Paul said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved". But it's not only a social and spiritual, but it's an individual problem. Jesus said, "A certain man"... Now Jesus is interested in you as an individual. He sees the sparrow when it falls he said, and he has the hairs of your head numbered and he sees you as an individual. He said, "A certain man"... He loves people. Behold, how he loved him. "Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends". And the scripture says this certain man in this story went down. He went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. Jericho was 800 feet below Jerusalem, about 18 miles away. And a certain man went down the Jericho road.
Now Jerusalem was the place of the city of God: it was a city of peace at that time. It was a city of truth, it was a city where the theologians were. But now, he was going down. That's the downward course of sin, and we're all on that downward Jericho road. Every one of us. And if you read the scriptures and read the first chapter of Romans, you'll find that sin starts in the very beginning and leads us downward, downward, downward, downward. And like the shadow when it declined, it said the Psalmist, "I am tossed down". And this certain man was on his way down, like you are on your way down.
The president of the United Nations is right when he said, "We will never make war obsolete until we find a force that will bridle the passions of men and nations". Jesus Christ on that cross can transform the human life and change hate to love. "A certain man fell among thieves, and they stripped him of his raiment and wounded him". And we have all fallen in with the devil and his demons. And they've stripped us, they've wounded us, they've left us for dead. Jesus said, "The thief cometh not but to steal and to kill and to destroy. I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly". Notice the difference: there's a thief that comes to kill, to destroy: to kill you. But Jesus said, "I've come to give them life, and to give them life more abundantly".
All over the world sin is rampaging, raping, ravaging humanity: violence, terrorism. We read it every day in our newspapers: murder, muggers and rapists in our major cities have become a major problem. Thieves have wounded and stripped this man, and departed from him, and left him half dead: alone and forsaken. When he came to and got his consciousness back, he found himself crushed and unable to move, just like you. One day you'll wake up. You'll find sin has destroyed you, and you cannot move. The Bible says that we're dead in sins and trespasses. The Bible says, "She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she lives". You can be physically alive, but spiritually dead. Your soul is dead. It cannot save itself, it cannot move, it cannot get up out of the ditch. It cannot heal those wounds. That's why Christ came and died on the cross.
"The wages of sin is death". The man is going to die: you're going to die. And then there came some salvation quacks along. The world is full of false Messiahs, and false prophets, and false Christs. Jonestown down in Guyana is still fresh in our memories where Jim Jones went and 900 people died. And how many of those false cults there are all over the world today, these false messiahs promising all kinds of things. Jesus said, "Take heed that no man deceive you". He warned that many false prophets shall rise and shall deceive many. Paul said, "Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived as we approach the end of the age".
John said many antichrists would come. He said, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God," because of the false prophets that have gone out into the world. Then as we approach the end of the age, they will intensify, they will get worse and worse, and more believable all the time. Many people will follow them to their doom and to their death. A priest came along... Think of it now, a priest came along: a preacher, a clergyman. And it says that he looked over and he saw this man over there suffering and dying and wounded and stripped. And he passed by on the other side. Now he was too busy on his way, probably to a religious conference, to stop and help this poor man.
Paul wrote to Timothy, "Having a form of Godliness but denying the power thereof". You see religion will not save anybody. People say, "Oh, I'm religious". Sure, you have religion, but that's not going to save you. You are saved by Jesus Christ. By the blood that was shed on the cross, by his resurrection: by what is called in the Bible the kerygma: the story of Christ on the cross. When God took your sins and laid them on Christ, and he became sin for us who knew no sin. That's the only way anybody's going to be saved. I don't care who you are. No one is going to go to the kingdom of heaven except the way God said go.
You might not like it that way, but that's the way it is. "There is a way that seemeth right unto man, but the end thereof are the ways of death," says the Bible. Come to the cross! Find forgiveness and eternal life. Then you have the ability and then you have the vision to go out and help your neighbor. People say they can be saved by doing the best they can. I saw a poll in new jersey some time ago that said ninety-two percent of the people said they hope to go to heaven, but they were not sure. But John said, "We know that we've passed from death unto life". Peter said, "For as much as ye know that you were redeemed". Paul said, "I know in whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I've committed unto him against that day". The apostle John said, "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God that ye may know that ye have eternal life".
You don't have to doubt it. Do you doubt that you're going to heaven tonight? Do you doubt that you have eternal life? Do you doubt that your sins are forgiven? Is there a doubt in your heart? If there is, then I'd make sure, tonight! You say, "I've been baptized, I've been confirmed, I've done everything I was told to do," but you're not sure. Come and make sure. Recommit your life. Reconfirm your life. Reconfirm what your parents promised at baptism. Reconfirm what you promised. Many people need to do that. I needed to do that. I was brought up in the church: baptized, confirmed, and all the rest. But I still didn't really know Christ as my Savior and my Lord. There came a time when I had to say, "Yes, Lord, I will receive you, I will turn from my sins, I will allow you to change my way of living". "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us".
So the wounded, derelict man was left to die: the priest and the Levite unwilling to save him. And Jesus now shows us the simplicity and the saving power of the Gospel. "A certain Samaritan came along"... Now a Samaritan was a half-caste: he was half gentile and half Jewish. The Jews and the gentiles at that time had nothing to do with each other, and certainly the Jews and the Samaritans had nothing to do with each other. They didn't trust each other in that ancient day. They do today, but they didn't at that time. And so this Samaritan, who normally would have nothing to do with somebody of another ethnic background, came along and saw what happened. Now he could have said to himself, "I have no responsibility for this guy. He got in his own trouble. He should have come along armed and ready for the thieves and the robbers on this road. He should have prepared himself. I don't have any responsibility towards him. He's not related to me, he hates me".
God could have done the same with us. He could have looked at this little planet whirling out into space like a speck of dust, with little ants called people living on it. Lost, separated from him, dying, being born, live a few years and then die: being born, live a few years and die, and sin and go on with their own pleasures defying God. And he could have said, "Sweep them all into hell". He could have said, "Let's destroy the planet". He could have done it with a snap of his finger. He could have done it with an order to one angel. But he didn't do it. The Bible says, "For God so loved the world". So loved. You don't understand that, do you? How can you? You can't love like that. Only an infinite God can so love to do what he did: to save this little planet, to save you. The grace of God, we didn't deserve it.
Dr. Menninger, the great psychiatrist from Kansas, said, "Love is the medicine for the sickness of the world". One of your former prime ministers was quoted in the press some time ago as saying he had never known a time in his whole lifetime when there was such a shortage of love. I read of a woman in London, England who died at 102. For the last years of her life, she had nightly made an entry in her diary, and here's what her diary said day after day, and day after day. "No one called today, no one loves me". She died alone. But I'll tell you, somebody does love you. I don't care what your problems are, and what your tensions are, and what's your pressures, what your sins are, and what your failure are: God loves you. God loves you so much that he sent his son to the cross to endure that terrible death for you, just for you. If you'd have been the only one, he would have died for you.
And so, this Samaritan went to him just as Christ will come to you tonight: in your hurt, in your distress, in your failure, in your sin. He will come to you. He didn't just love him and leave him. Jesus didn't just love us and leave us, he died, he did something! And this certain Samaritan did the same thing. "But God commended his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us".
Do you remember reading in the paper some time ago about this doctor from Windsor, Ontario that went down to Chicago with his wife. Now I'm not sure they were on their honeymoon, but they went down to Chicago and they ate at a restaurant. You remember that they were held up by some robbers on the street outside in a rather nice neighborhood. The robber pulled a gun and held it at the head of his wife or his bride, and he rushed in between, and the robber shot him and killed him. He was saving his wife, just as the Lord Jesus Christ rushed in for his bride: those of us who are members of his body, he died on the cross for us because he loved us. Christ loved you and died for you. "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us".
Notice this Samaritan bound up his wounds and poured in some oil. Now the oil stands for the Holy Spirit. You see, the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts, and convicts us of sin. And then after we've received Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to fill our hearts and to produce the Fruit of the Spirit, and to give us gifts so that we can serve him. And then he poured in the wine, and the wine with its alcoholic content was an antiseptic that would help heal the wound. And that wine, as you take it at communion, or the juice that may be served in your church, stands for the blood of Christ. And the Bible says, "The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanseth from all sin".
God doesn't just change us and convert us, and give us eternal life, God keeps us! "And brought him up", the scripture says, "To an inn and took care of him". And Peter said, "Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation". You don't have to hold on and stay in the Kingdom of God by holding on, he holds you! He takes care of you! He put him on his own beast, he had his own ambulance right there. And so Christ will put you in a place and give you a peace and a joy. That was the first Samaritan hospital in history right there. The Psalmist said concerning Christ, "He brought me up". It says, "He set me up, he set my feet on a rock," he held me up, he tunes me up, he'll catch me up someday. And on the day after when he left he paid the price and said, "If he has any more needs, I'll pay when I come back".
Jesus Christ is coming back. Christ can touch your life and make you new and give you eternal life. And then you'll have the strength and the ability to go out and be a neighbor to those that you should be a neighbor to. You say, "What do I have to do"? You have to say, "God, I'm sorry I've sinned. Lord, I'm willing to change my way of life. Lord, I receive you into my heart by faith. And I do it openly". Every person Jesus called, he called openly and publicly in the New Testament. That's the reason I'm going to ask you to get up right now and come forward, and stand in front of the platform. I want you to get up and come and stand and say tonight, "I want eternal life. I want my sins forgiven. I want to know I'm going to heaven. I want Christ in my heart. I want a new relationship with him". You get up and come right now, we're going to wait.
You that have been watching by television can see that scores of people are coming from every part of this great stadium to make their commitment to Jesus Christ. And where you are: in a living room, in a hotel room, in a bar, wherever, you can make that same commitment to Christ. God help you to make that commitment. And be sure and go to church next Sunday. God bless you.