As followers of Jesus, it is our duty to love our neighbor. It is within the church that we learn to love our neighbor. For when we participate in Holy Communion, we know that we receive the love of God. How else can we explain the Body and Blood of Jesus that we consume during this Sacrament? Yet we not only receive the love of God, we give love.
During Holy Communion we receive forgiveness from God for our sins. We need to hear about God’s forgiveness. For it is a verbal acknowledgment of God’s love for us. Then during the “Passing of the Peace,” we celebrate this fact. We greet each other with the words, “The peace of Christ be with you.” Then our response to each other is, “And also with you.” Not only are we celebrating God’s love for us through Jesus, we are also letting each other know that we forgive each other.
When we are forgiving one another, then we are loving each other. When we learn to love one another within the church, then we can learn to love our neighbors outside the church. When our children and grandchildren go to ball practice, they are learning to play the game. If they miss a practice, then they won’t be able to play the next game. When we receive Holy Communion, we are learning to love our neighbors. When we miss Holy Communion, then it makes it harder for us to love our neighbors.
All of this stuff about Holy Communion is about obeying Jesus. When we obey God, then we can live. The story of the Good Samaritan is also about obeying God. Though I am not sure it is the answer the lawyer was expecting when he asked Jesus the question.
A. How do we inherit eternal life? (10:25-28)
1. Jesus responds with a question: “What is written in the law? What do you read there?”
2. Two-part answer
a. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your minds (Deuteronomy 6:5)
b. Love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:19)
3. Jesus responded: “Do this and you will live.” (Deuteronomy 18:5)
4. That is it. We love God with all we have and we love our neighbors as ourselves. Being forgiven by God, we know why we love God. Forgiving each other, we know why we love our neighbors. The reason we forgive and love, for there is little difference between love and forgiveness, is so we can obey God. With what is happening in our nation, we can see how unloving and unforgiving we can be. We Americans are not obeying God. We are taking vengeance and returning grudges against one another. But how do we love our neighbor? We look at the next question the lawyer asks.
B. The lawyer asks Jesus: “Who is my neighbor?” (10:29-37)
1. Jesus tells a story for his answer!
2. A man – a Jewish man??
3. Robbers – did what robbers do
4. Priest – A Jew (!) did not help the man
5. Levite – another Jew (!) did not help the man
6. A Samaritan – a half-Jew did help the man (a group despised by the Jews)
a. Saw the beat up man
b. Moved with pity for the man
c. He went to the man
d. He bandaged his wounds, using oil and wine
e. He put the man on his own animal
f. He brought the man to an inn
g. He took care of the man overnight
h. He paid for the man’s care
7. Which one was a neighbor to the man in need?
8. The lawyer responded: “The one who showed him mercy.”
9. Jesus tells him: “Go and do likewise.”
10. Did you catch the twist in Jesus’ story? It is the man who was beaten and robbed who gets to love his neighbor! The man received care from the Samaritan. So, the man could love the Samaritan! All because the Samaritan loved his neighbor as he loved himself. We are to be neighbors to each other. We are to obey Jesus.
Who is your neighbor? The people around you are your neighbors. Even the ones who are not like us are our neighbors. We love them anyway. We love as we ourselves because we want to obey Jesus. We love because we are obeying God.
Have you been a neighbor, showing mercy to that person who is not like you? Have you been a neighbor, obeying Jesus? It might be time for Holy Communion. It might be time for us to practice loving and forgiving each other here. For it is time our nation began loving each other. I hope the loving and forgiving starts here. Let us be obedient to Jesus. Let us go and do likewise.