October 29 – Luke 10:25-37


Main Focus: Love is the fuel for multi-ethnic community.

We’re now transitioning to the second portion of our series, the practical outworking of all we’ve discussed thus far. Over the past ten weeks we’ve established that God is building a multi-ethnic community for himself and inviting us to join in that community, but how do we do this? Perhaps with a story, a story that may be overly familiar to some in your group, but nevertheless a story that has much to tell us about Jesus’s world-changing kingdom.

Here in Luke 10:25-37, Jesus is teaching us what it is to love and what it means to be a neighbor. Keep in mind though the broader context; he does so in response to a Jewish lawyer, a Temple Torah expert, putting him to a test. It’s also worth pointing out that, after the first parry of their debate, Jesus told the man his summary of the Torah was right. “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

However, apparently the man knew the right answers but not the right definitions. “But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” This question assumed that some people qualify as neighbors while some do not, though this is no new idea; far too much harm stems from placing fellow human beings into non-fellow categories. It’s in the face of the man’s assumption that Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan.

It’s hard to overemphasize the ethnic animosity that existed between Jews and Samaritans in Jesus’s day, but Jesus purposefully confounded the ethnic and cultural sensibilities of his audience in order to teach his upending, category-defying, chasm-bridging love. The Jews looked on Samaritans as racial inferiors who practiced a bastardized version of Judaism; you’ll notice that, at the end of the story, the lawyer will not even say the word “Samaritan” because it is too odious for him to admit. In discussion we’ll specifically call out Jesus’s use of ethnic tensions in order to make his point as clear as day: there is no one for whom the command “love your neighbor” does not apply.

And Jesus has every right to command this because he himself has practiced this love to the full degree. We’ll connect Jesus’s command to his love for us, demonstrated on the cross; “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8). Jesus has been the ultimate loving neighbor, laying down his life for those who hated him. Even in the word itself we see a glimmer of the incarnation. In Greek, the word for neighbor is something like “near one” (the Old English origins of “neighbor” are similar), and near versus far can make sense of the Samaritan story; the priest and Levite stay on the other side of the road while the Samaritan was the only one who came near. Similarly, coming near encapsulates the work of the incarnation, in which God came near to those who had fled far from him.

This focuses our attention on how Jesus tells us to “go, and do likewise.” Jesus demonstrated the perfect fulfillment of the kind of love that led the Samaritan to care for someone who considered him an inferior, at great expense to himself (fun fact: two denarii is about $300 today). Jesus calls us to take up our cross and follow him, with the expectation that it will lead us to blur conventional lines and that it will come at great expense to us. In discussion we’ll end by contemplating who in our settings stands on the other side of a divide much like this Jew and Samaritan did. Whether that’s folks of a different race, folks who live on the side of town you don’t visit after dark, folks who represent what irritates you or unnerves you—whoever that is, there is no one Jesus allows us to categorize as non-neighbor, no one for whom we can avoid Jesus’s injunction, “go, and do likewise.”

Questions for Discussion

• Could someone read Luke 10:25-37 for us?

• What stands out to you from this story?

• Why do you think Jesus played on ethnic tensions to make his point here?

•How do you think this story illustrates Jesus’s sacrificial love for us?

• How do you think it illustrates Jesus’s priorities for his people?

•Who are some people who it doesn’t make much sense for you to associate with? How do you think this story can encourage you to relate to them?

• Prayer Prompt: Thank Jesus for his love for us and asking him to help us love others like he loves us.