WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
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SERVING NEIGHBORS, SERVING GOD
(Love your neighbor)
In Luke 10:25-29, one of the teachers of religious law, probably a Pharisee, stood up and posed this question to JESUS “What must I do to receive eternal life”. Ironically JESUS gave the same answer that HE had given to the religious teacher who had asked “Which is the most important commandment?” in both Matthew (Matthew 22:34-40) and Mark’s Gospels (Mark 12:28-34).
There (in Matthew and Mark) JESUS began by reciting the opening line, of the first part of the three-part “Shema”, which was recited by devout Jews twice daily. It stresses the unity of GOD, and, the importance of loving HIM and HIS Laws, and it goes like this; “Hear old
the LORD our GOD is one LORD” (Deuteronomy 6:4).
Then JESUS says that we must “love the LORD THY GOD with all thy heart, soul, mind, and strength”. This kind of love calls for a thorough commitment to GOD that is both personal, and, whole of heart. In fact, it speaks to the whole of humanity, which is as follows;
· “The heart”, which is the center of human life,
· “The soul”, which is the “self-conscience” life of all men,
· “The mind”, which is the entire thought process of man, and
· “The strength”, which is the entire physical power of man.
In other words, we should love GOD with every fiber of our being, and it is no accident that this is also what is covered in the first four commandments (see Exodus 20:3-11), where GOD tells us, in effect, that our love for HIM must be;
· Totally loyal (verse 3),
· Totally faithful (verse 6),
· Totally trusting (verse 7),
· And, we must show total reverence for HIM at all times (verse 8).
Next, JESUS states that we should “love our neighbor as we love ourselves”. It is not a coincidence that his is the summation of the remaining six commandments (Exodus 20:12-17);
· If we love each other, we can certainly begin with honoring our own parents.
· If we love each other, we are not likely to intentionally, or maliciously take another’s life, which by the way, is made in the image of GOD.
· If we love each other, we will not commit adultery against our spouse with another person.
· If we love each other, we won’t steal from each other.
· If we love each other, we won’t lie on each other, or falsely accuse each other.
· And finally, if we love each other, we won’t jealously desire anything that belongs to someone else.
And so, here in this passage JESUS is saying that everything GOD commands us to do is of the utmost importance to HIM, and that, the Ten Commandments can really be viewed as being only two. And both of them, or all ten of them, are of equal importance to GOD. And JESUS concludes by saying, “If we do them, we will live” eternally with GOD in Heaven. When we come to love GOD, we then understand more clearly how we can also, “love our neighbor” as we love ourselves. In verse 29, the religious teacher sought to justify himself by posing yet another question to JESUS, asking HIM, “Who is my neighbor?”
In verses 30-37, JESUS gives us a clear example of how we can serve GOD by serving our neighbor, as HE relates the, now famous, story of “the good Samaritan”. Here JESUS defines “neighbor” in a very rigorous, all-inclusive way, as being “anybody who is in need”, regardless of race, creed, color, or national origin.
JESUS’ answer to the religious teacher’s second question has to be viewed on two different levels if we are to grasp the totality of HIS message. First of all JESUS HIMSELF tells us that when HE returns to judge the peoples’ of the world, HE will base HIS decision on how each individual “reacted to human need” over the span of his or her lifetime (Matthew 25:31-46).
Secondly, it must be viewed in the context of HIS OWN rejection by Israel here on earth. Likewise, in this parable, the Jewish religious leaders rejected the man who had fell victim to bandits along the perilous Jericho road, and needed their help after being robbed. When JESUS lived here on earth, the Jewish people, particularly the religious leaders, became the worst of HIS rejecters by announcing HIM as being not from GOD.
In the parable of the good Samaritan, only the despised, mixed-race Samaritan stopped to render aid to the fallen man of Jewish descent, and out of the three who came upon the man’s injured body (two of them were men of the Church), only the outcast Samaritan was willing to stop and help keep the man from perishing by the wayside. In fact, not only did the man render aid to fallen Jewish man by soothing his wounds with medicine and bandages, he also loaded him up on his donkey and took him to a place of shelter in a nearby inn, where he administered further medical assistance to him. And furthermore, the next day, the Samaritan gave the innkeeper two pieces of silver and instructed him to take care of the man, and also told HIM, that, if he needed more money, he would square up him the next time he passed through.
After JESUS finished relating this parable HE asked the religious teacher which of the three men who encountered the wounded victim on the Jericho road acted as a good neighbor to him. The religious teacher wisely replied in the only way he could, by answering, “The one who showed him mercy”. Then JESUS replied to the teacher, “Yes, now go and do the same”.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website