A Deeper Look into the Parable of the Good Samaritan

Recently I have seen a many articles relating the parable of the good samaritan to some of the cultural issues going on in our country. The border crisis, Afghanistan, Covid 19 mandates, masks, vaccines all seem be topics of many of these articles.

The Good Samaritan parable is actually about the religious law and religious attitudes. The context in which this parable is written is a significant framework for this parable. Chapter 10 in the book of Luke starts out with Jesus sending out the 70 to speak the word and heal people. There are some great instructions about helping and healing people that are interesting to read. The 70 saw great success applying the instructions they were given. Jesus taught them about their attitude in light of what they saw:

19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. Luke 10:19-20

Next in Chapter 10, Jesus was questioned by a lawyer who, in that theocratic culture, was a religious leader. Jesus knew that the man was challenging him and responded by putting a question to the lawyer. The Hebrew culture had developed a whole system of laws to hold God’s people to the law. This lawyer was fully aware of the Hebrew law. Jesus shared  the parable of the good Samaritan with him and in it, he included a priest and a levite (both religious positions) that had passed by a man who had beaten by robbers. Finally a Samaritan came by and immediately helped the man.

Samaritans were looked down upon in the culture. During the time of the captivity, they had married pagan wives and that was frowned upon of the legalistic religious leaders. Jesus made the point in getting the lawyer to admit who the real neighbor was. The lawyer had wanted some rule to justify himself as to who his neighbor was. Jesus brought out the truth. The good samaritan parable focus is on the lawyer and what Jesus was saying about attitude.

Our attitude is important in everything we do. In the last section of chapter 10 following the samaritan parable, is the story of Martha and Mary which is one of my favorite records (having been at times a Martha and at other times a Mary myself:

38 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. 40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. Luke 10:38-42

Mary wanted to hear Jesus and what he had to say because she knew what it meant for her life and others with whom she came into contact with. Sometimes we work too hard at doing the right things.  We obscure where the greatest treasure lies and is what the greatest reason is for why we do things. Our service to others is very often about what we think we should do for others and then using rules and regs to govern actions. It is really about what God wants us to do for others according to his Word. If you really want to be given the opportunity to genuinely and in a godly way help others, this is the mindset to have! It is a thread that runs through the chapter.

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The Seal of Ephesians

An incident popped into my mind that happened many years ago. I was walking through a dark thick woods very late at night. It was difficult to see since there were no street lights  in the area. The path that I was walking on was overgrown with bushes. Suddenly, in the quiet night, I heard a crunch and a snap, that sounded like the sound of a snap of a branch or twig.  My heart  jumped and seemed to skipped several beats. It was so-o-o dark, damp and chilly! I wondered what was behind me, in front of me or beside me as I could not tell from which direction the sound was coming from. Immediately I stepped up my pace, haphazardly pushing away branches and bushes, unsure of my footing.  Finally I reached the front door of our cottage and slipped inside. With the door shut and locked, I was immediately sealed off from the outside.  The darkness and the unknown slipped out of my view and was replaced by the comfort, warmth and safety of our living room and was thankful to be with my family.

In Ephesians 1:13 Paul writes about us being sealed with the holy spirit of promise.  In the Word of God, the word ‘sealed’ is basically used for 4 things. First, it is used to represent security like the seal in a tomb (Matthew 27:66), The Christ inside of us is not a dead body, but a living reality because we have been sealed, secure and enclosed in the living room of God’s love.

Second, it is to hide and preserve the contents of a letter.  (Revelations 5:1)

Third, it confirms or establishes the presence of the holy spirit (II corinthians 1:22 )

Finally, it indicates ownership. (Ephesians 4:30, Ephesians 1:13)

The book of Ephesians completely expounds on the love of our father God for his family. Our job is to bring our minds to what has made given to us. We have been locked in the comfort and warmth of the security of God’s love. We have been hidden, enveloped and encased in that love. We have been established and confirmed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Finally, we were bought with a price. We are purchase possession and Gods kids. We got the whole ball of wax. Knowing all this and renewing our minds to our rights and privileges as sons of God we rest safely in God’s love.

We can be so thankful to God for everything he has  done for us:

20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. NASB

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Sword of the Spirit

Jesus Christ’s purpose was to reveal the presence of evil and expose opposition to God.   Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to the adversary.  Evil can be blatant or subtle. Evil penetrates this world through  suggestions, philosophies, ideologies, idolatries and a lust for power. We see it in the media, education, politics and even in religion (‘Genesis 3- ‘Did God really say?’). There is no little red demon with horns and a pitchfork; the devil is a spiritual force of evil that is a parasite on words and ideas. The success of this force depends upon being believed, that is why evil often uses religion to sell its wares.  The closer to truth the adversary gets without being truth, the greater the success at dragging an individual into its traps.The world is in a bit of uneasiness to say the least; there is a lot of hypocrisy, lying and accusation, which eats away at our trust in things going on; BUT:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which PASSES ALL UNDERSTANDING, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6

Trusting God who is faithful to his word is so refreshing and real. We are not wrestling against flesh and blood in this present world. God has supplied protection and weaponry to battle the dark areas we face:

Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Ephesians 4:14-17

Truth is our safety belt. Our hearts are protected by righteousness (God’s) and our feet are protected by peace. We have a shield that comes from believing God which can move around to fend off the evil aimed at us. Some of the evil that presents to us is in the form of subtle attacks as well as the more obvious hits. The sword of the spirit which is the word of God, is a singularly unique weapon. The spirit of God can so work in us to detect things behind the scene and make a direct sharp hit. It may involve thoughts within our own heads as well as from others. 

The greek word for ‘word’ in this verse is the word ‘rhema’. The are two major words for ‘word’ in the Bible: ‘rhema’ and ‘logos’.  ‘Logos’ refers to the doctrine of God, ‘rhema’ refers to specific saying or word that applies to a time and situation. ‘Rhema’ is surgical, that is why the ‘sword of spirit’ is used in this verse. We just don’t throw verses at the wall to see what sticks, we allow the spirit of God to inspire our thinking; the right thought for the right attack. It might not come immediately but it will come at just the right time which is crucial and incredibly exciting!

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Broken Toys

God is our Father. He is the perfect father and yet many people still blame him for the ups and downs and injustices of life.  When they pray and they don’t seem to get the answers they want right away, they may get angry or may even doubt God, his love and existence.

As children bring their broken toys with tears for us to mend,

I brought my broken dreams to God, because he was my friend.

But then, instead of leaving Him, in peace, to work alone;

I hung around and tried to help, with ways that were my own.

At last, I snatched them back and cried, “How can you be so slow?

“My child,” He said, “What could I do? You never did let go.” 

Author unknown

God does so much better than we could imagine and as we grow, we learn to yield to what’s best. Yielding to God’s love brings great peace to our lives.

There are some things we hang on tightly to for a lot of different reasons. Our environment and culture exert certain pressures on our minds to cause us to be unsure, lack confidence and commit to ‘quick fixes’. The bottom line is fear. But!:

18 There is no fear (terror, panic flight) in love (Godly love) ; but perfect (mature, completed) love casteth (with force and effort) out fear: .1 John 4:18a

The “toys of this world” come and go.  As we mature, some things get old and we move on hopefully not clinging to the childish things that need to be left behind.  God replaces our fear with power, love and a sound mind which are the faithful solid tools of life and with these tools we have peace that exceeds our expectations.

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Dark and Gloomy? Turn on the Light!

This past week has been rainy and cloudy. It can feel gloomy when weather like this drags on so long. The dark gray clouds seem to exert a heavy pressure on the air.  Finally the sun blew it all away yesterday. It was so nice to see bright light again!

Light can be physical and it can be spiritual. In John chapter 9 there is an interesting record that seems to parallel both:

And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. 4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.

5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

6 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

John 9:1-7

Jesus and his disciples passed by a blind man and the disciples asked an interesting question about how this man’s blindness originated. They wanted to know if it was caused by sin. Sin occurs when a person ignores God and sets out to do something he shouldn’t do. They wanted to know if it was his sin or the parents sin that was responsible for the blindness. Jesus said ‘Neither’. 

There is one main reason that bad things happen in this world and that is because there is evil in this world. God doesn’t cause blindness so he can show a miracle. Since Genesis 3, the adversary has had opportunity to mess up God’s original creation in many ways. Sickness and disease entered after  Adam and Eve transferred power to the adversary and he has been messing up everything ever since.

Jesus explained that he was to work the works of God who sent him (it is interesting that Siloam means ‘sent’). The blind man received his sight. Darkness turned to light for him.

Spiritually when things get bad, dark and gloomy, Turning to God’s word turns on spiritual light. Spiritual light causes spiritual gloom to flee!

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