Justice and the Gospel Part 2
Part 2: Loving your neighbour
Over the course of his life Jesus said and did some crazy things. He walked on water, turned a kid's lunch in to a great meal and even brought people back to life from the dead! However, the point of all these these signs was to reveal who Jesus was and why He had come in to world.
One day when Jesus was reading the Bible in the synagogue, he read these famous words from Isaiah 61:1-2:
"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’S favor."
This was Jesus’ manifesto, his program for changing the world. He came to preach, to proclaim that God was near and ready to save. And alongside this Jesus had come to bring healing and justice to those who desperately needed it – including us!
Love your neighbour
A little later in Luke 10 an expert in the law, a modern day lawyer, comes to Jesus to test him (10:25).
He begins by asking Jesus a stupid question: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
The answer is of course - nothing! You can’t do anything to get an inheritance, it is something that is given to you. But Jesus is patient, he says “What is written in the Law? How do you read it”
Now, what Jesus was asking the lawyer to do was to recite ALL the law. The lawyer is clever though and offers Jesus the summary in Luke 10:27.
‘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, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (he was quoting Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18)
Jesus is impressed and tells the lawyer he is correct. But that’s not all… Jesus says to the man, “…do this and you will live”. BAM! Cope that Lawyer dude.
The Pharisee is caught of guard, he wasn’t expecting that. What keep the law! You can’t be serious Jesus…. In fact Luke tells us the lawyer tries to ‘justify himself’ (v.29) and he asks Jesus another question “Who is my neighbour?”
Who is my neighbour?
It’s a good question actually. Is my neighbour simply the person that I live beside? Maybe the person I sit next to at school? Or is it someone else?
Jesus tells the lawyer a parable (a short story with a point). It’s one that you may be familiar with. The parable of the good Samaritan. If you haven’t read the parable it might be good to stop and read it right now. It’s Luke 10:30-36. And Jesus’ question is this;
"Which of these three do you think was a neigbhor to the man who fell in to the hands of the robbers?" (v.36)
What’s the answer? Who is neigbourly to the man by the road? Who lives the good and righteous life that law demands? It’s the Samaritan.
Jesus is telling the man that his neigbour is ANYONE in need. And loving our neigbour will sometimes mean be sacrifically involved in peoples lives.
How will YOU love your neighbour?
How did the Samaritan man love the Jew? He picked him up, bandaged his wounds, gave him some food and even gave money to care for him in to the future.
He cared for him in every way possible.
Often we love and care for people who are like us and who we can expect to get something back… But Jesus will have none of that!! By depicting a Samaraitan helping a Jew, someone who was an enemy, Jesus found a really strong and forceful way to say that anyone at all in need, regardless of race, politics, class or religion is your neighbour.
This week as you walk to school, hang around the playground or go to the local shops – why not look around and notice, maybe for the first time, who is your neighbour and how you and your friends could be 'good Samaritans'.