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Jack Graham - Love Does


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    Jack Graham - Love Does
TOPICS: Why Believe?, Love

The title of this message is "Love Does". And in our series of Luke we're now taking a look at the parables, the stories that Jesus told. Luke told more of the parables, shared more of the stories of Jesus than any of the Gospel writers. You know what a parable is, right? It is a parallel line, it is a living illustration. Someone said a heavenly story with an earthly meaning. These parables, these stories that Jesus told are little mini docu-dramas, if you will. Real life stories about real people, real events, real circumstances in people's lives, yours and mine. Not just stories of yesteryears but stories about you and stories about me.

In fact it's very important as we make our way through these parables of our Lord that we see ourselves in the stories; that you put yourself in the parable. Because someone said they're like windows, these parables, in which we see the kingdom of God. We see God more clearly. But they're also like mirrors in which we see ourselves. And we often find ourselves in the parables. There are all kinds of themes in the parables of Jesus. Everything from future events and things to come to stories of forgiveness, stories about prayer... certainly stories about grace and God's love as we're going to see in the message today. Today's message, today's parable is one of the most familiar and famous of all the stories that Jesus told. It's the story known as the Good Samaritan.

So beginning in chapter 10 of Luke's Gospel, and at verse 25, "And behold, a lawyer 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 have 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, and 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 on 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. 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". 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.'"

That's the bottom line of this message to all of us. Here you are in this parable! "You go, and do likewise". The story begins with a questions from a lawyer. Now the lawyer here was not a lawyer as we think of an attorney here in the United States... someone who would have practice civil or business law, but rather a student of the laws of God, a student of the word of God. He was in effect an expert in the Law of Moses, the Pentateuch. He was a theologian. And the Scripture says that he stood up to test Jesus. It seems that he is agitated; perhaps even angry when he waits his time and... I'm thinking here Jesus is noticing this man along the way as our Lord is teaching and expounding God's word and God's truth, and finally Jesus turns towards this man, and the man gets His attention and says, "Okay, what should I do to inherit eternal life"?

You have to wonder if this was an honest or a dishonest question. Did he want to know or did he really not want to know? Did he just want to test Jesus in some way to embarrass Him? Well, he was testing Jesus alright, but he did ask a very important question. In fact you could call it life's most important question: What must I do to inherit eternal life? That's the most important question you can ask and answer. How can I know that I'm going to heaven? How can I know that I have eternal life? The lawyer even realizes that at some level we don't earn our way to heaven because he said, "What must I do to inherit eternal life"? An inheritance is a gift from a father. And so he realized that only God could give eternal life, but he wanted to know how! And so Jesus, reading his heart, threw the question right back at him and he said, "You're the Bible scholar; what does the law say? What do the Scriptures say"? And we should just remind ourselves right here that the answer to life's most vital and important and central questions are always found in the Bible. Always in the Word of God!

What does the Bible say? And Jesus pointed to the supreme and only authority for life's eternal question: What do the Scriptures say? And the lawyer responds accurately in verses 27 and 28, by reviewing the Shema which is the Great Commandment of God. The summation of the law of love. "Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength; and your neighbor as yourself". In other words, the summation of the law of all laws, the law of love is to love God and love others! To love God is to devote yourself to Him; to know Him and follow Him. Now we know that Jesus came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets... He is the fulfillment of the Law! And so to follow Jesus faithfully is to fulfill the Law and receive the love of God. Because Jesus reveals the love of God. Romans 5:8, "But God demonstrates His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us".

How would we really know the love of God apart from what Christ has done for us? Therefore we love Him... we love God... Why? Because He first loved us! And when we are greatly loved... when we know we are loved by God, we are then free to love others. The Jesus in me loves the Jesus in you. When you love and follow Jesus it is so life altering, so life changing that you begin to love at a level you never thought possible. Here's the story: love for Jesus produces love for people. Bammm! End of story! You'd have thought that would have been it. He said (verse 28) "Do this and live"! Notice He didn't say know this and live. He said, "Do this and live"!

Now the lawyer is embarrassed. He wants to justify his question. Perhaps he's just shame-faced because Jesus took him down, so he asks another question, and I'm glad he asked this question because Jesus gave us this great story in response to the second question he asked, which is, "Who is my neighbor"? And that's when Jesus begins to tell of a man who was on his way from Jerusalem, Mount Zion, the highest point there in Israel down to Jericho. A man was on his way from the heights to the depths, literally, physically it is 3500 feet down from Jerusalem to Jericho; below sea level. And this treacherous path he traveled was a pathway known by the Jews of that day as the bloody way because thieves and robbers and murderers and the like would hide in the caves and crevasses of the mountain regions there and attack people without notice.

So the man, sure enough, Jesus said, is mugged. He's robbed and then beaten and left to die. The word here is descriptive of a man fighting for his life. He's about to breathe his last. And then you know what happens, right? The clergy shows up. Two religious men: one a priest and the other a Levite are walking down this same road. We don't know if they're going down to Jericho or up from Jericho to Jerusalem, but they're on this road. And Jesus said they saw the man but they walked by on the other side.

Now we can imagine why they walked away. They could have been frightened. Maybe they should have been frightened. After all, who knows but that this was a set up for more shenanigans, more robbery, more beating, so they hurried on their way. Perhaps for religious reasons they rushed by. Because according to the Levitical law, the Jewish application of the law, they were not to touch a dead body or a corpse, and so they wrapped their robes around them and hurried down the road. Maybe they were just busy. Maybe the man was an interruption. It was perhaps common to see men beaten by the side of the road, like we walk by homeless people. I mean, we see people every day that are in some way broken and maybe they're just too busy. Whatever the reason there's really no excuse for what happened here.

God is not interested in our excuses for walking by wounded, broken, hurting people! Because as believers and followers of Jesus we are called to love people no matter the cost or the consequences! There are two attitudes that forced the action, here expressed by these two men, or these two groups. One is the robbers. The robbers express the attitude that we see so often today and that is "what is yours is mine and I'll take it... what's yours is mine and I'll take it". These are the victimizers. Some people spend their lives taking, exploiting, using and abusing; hurting others in the process. The Bible speaks of those who are traffickers, those who traffic in the souls of men! The sexual exploiters, the pornographers, the abortionists! Others who steal the innocence of youth! The users, the exploiters, the takers! "What's yours is mine and I'll take it"! There are a lot of people who live their lives just like this.

The second attitude which produced the action of the religionist, is "What's mine is mine and I'll keep it... what's mine is mine and I'll keep it"! These are the keepers; those who selfishly hold on to what they have. They've been blessed but never share their blessings. They never give because they don't care. For some it's deny and neglect, and for others it is purposeful neglect. They just think others are lesser than themselves. "What's your is mine and I'll take it"! "What's mine is mine and I'll keep it"! But then Jesus turns the story and says, "But a certain Samaritan journeyed along this same way".

Interesting to me... We call this Samaritan what? The Good Samaritan. Jesus never called him the Good Samaritan. He was "A certain Samaritan". To me that just says that somehow we have idolized this good Samaritan, this man who was so good, but Jesus is showing us he was just a guy who came along. Oh, and yes, he was a Samaritan! Shocking! Because the Jews detested the sinful, vile half-breeds known as Samaritans! They were shut out of the religious practice of Israel! They had their own religion. Samaritan, a certain Samaritan. But he acts in love. And his attitude is one which says "what's mine is yours and I'll give it".

If you need it, I'll give it! He shows spontaneous, selfless, sacrificial love! It was John Bunyan, the writer of Pilgrim's Progress, who said, "You haven't lived today until you have done something for someone who cannot pay you back". Here's a man, just a man who loves as he has been loved, and he loves out loud. This is the point of the story. The point of the story is not really who is my neighbor... the point of the parable is what kind of neighbor am I? And more specifically, what kind of Christian am I?

So how do I become a Christian like that? How can me... just a guy, you just guy... just you... how can we find ourselves in this parable and become like this man who said, "What I have is yours, if you need it". How do I become a caring Christian? How are we to be a caring, compassionate church? Well, one, here is what we see in the story. We must have eyes to see. Verse 33, "And when he saw him, he had compassion". Now the other two men... they saw the guy, but then they looked right passed him. They turned their heads. They really didn't see beyond the surface, did they? But this Samaritan... he saw with different eyes. He saw him, and it stopped him in his tracks.

Interesting word shows up here in this story. Up in verse 31 as the religious men were walking by at first is says by chance a priest came down that road. And then later likewise a Levite came down that road. And then when the Samaritan came, as he journeyed it, he came to the place where he was and he saw him and he had compassion. By chance! You see, all the passersby had a chance here. They had a chance, appointed and arranged by God to make a difference in this dead man's life! Every day God puts people in our path... hurting people, broken people, wounded people, dying people... every day. And if we will ask Him, our Lord Jesus, to open the eyes of our hearts to see as He sees, we will find ourselves meeting divine appointments every day.

When we come to that intersection... when we come to that interruption. Have you ever noticed that so often these kind of situations interrupt our schedules? We see people as a problem to solve, but we're not to see people as problems; we're to see people as opportunities to serve God, to act in our faith in love! I want to begin seeing people more than physically; I want to see into their souls by the love of God! I want to start looking with you outside of ourselves! What's right in front of us and our schedule and our little checkbook and our little iPhone, and see people who are right in our path! How many scores of people do we walk by in a lifetime that is a chance arranged by God for us to see, and beyond to see, to have a heart to feel. He says in verse 33, "He saw him and he had compassion on him".

Now compassion, that's a beautiful word, compassion. It sounds like a soft word, even sentimental so some, I presume, compassion. It is a sensitive word. It implies sensitivity to people, but it's a very strong biblical word! Compassion. Passion... you know what that means? To suffer. Com means along side of or with, so compassion means to suffer with. It means to bear with, to share peoples' pain and problems. Even beyond sympathy; it's empathy. It is to feel with, it is heart-felt. It is visceral... that means in the gut. It's emotional, it's heart-felt. But the third thing is, he had hands to help. And we must have hands to help. Notice what he did: he saw him... eyes to see; he had compassion... a heart to feel; and then he got off of his animal and he went down to the man.

He got off his high-horse and got down where the man was, and you know what he did? He ministered mercy to him. He poured out what he had... oil and wine; he cared for him. He acted... why? Because love does! It not only sees and feels, it does! It is not passive; it is active! He took personal risk. He spent his own money. He gave what he had. You say, "Well, I'm just one person. What can I do? There's so many needs"! Aren't we sometimes just overwhelmed by so many needs? What can one person do? Well, think about it. Jesus said this man, just one man on one day doing one thing for one man, and we've been telling this story for centuries. Think of the impact, the influence of this man's action. You never know what one simple act of love that you give can do to change a person's eternal destiny and even change history. So don't say what I do doesn't matter. What you do matters if you do it for Jesus and for the people that He loves.
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