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A bilingual and bicultural Christian young adults blog //////////////// 青年華裔基督徒的博客

The Best in the World: Thoughts on the Good Samaritan

Brad

When I was younger, my favourite sport was road hockey, and I played every chance I got. Consequently, I became pretty good at it. But in my young mind, I soon thought I wasn’t just pretty good; I was the best in the world! Everyone I played with couldn’t run like me, couldn’t shoot like me, couldn’t stick-handle like me – I would play with older kids and I was better than them too! But that little world all came crashing down one day.I was at a friend’s house, and the two of us were playing road hockey outside. As we were playing, a friend of his came walking down the street. “Hey, my friend is coming to play with us,” my friend said to me. “He’s pretty good. In fact, he’s better than you!” I was indignant! “We’ll see about that!” I said as I grabbed the hockey stick out of his hand, determined to show him the error of his ways. We played, and it turned out he was better than me, much better! I soon discovered that not only was I not the best in the world at road hockey, now I wasn’t even the best on the block! I had an encounter that day with someone which left me with a very different view of myself than when I had arrived. And it was humbling.

In Luke 10:25-37 (NLT), we learn about someone who had a very similar experience because of an encounter with Jesus. This man is identified as a lawyer, or an expert in religious law; in other places in the Bible, his group are called Scribes. Originally the Scribes were responsible for serving the Jewish kings, but by this time their job had changed to being responsible for copying out the Scriptures and teaching them to the people. Over time, these people became very important and were given great honor.  By Jesus’ time it was a greater crime to disobey a scribe’s writing than it was to disobey the Scriptures! They had the seats of honor at the feasts, the fanciest clothes, and the admiration of the people. They were “the best in the world.”

This particular lawyer came to Jesus one day and asked him a question: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” In response Jesus asked him, “What does the law of Moses say?” The lawyer answered his own question: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself.” “Right!” Jesus said. “Do this and you will live!” What Jesus was saying was that if this man satisfied God’s demands entirely, and did everything right in God’s sight, then he would be fine! But God had made it clear that the consequences for not perfectly satisfying His expectations was death. So where did this man stand?

His next question tells us where he thought he stood. Verse 29 says: “The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” That word “justified” means “to show to be righteous.” This lawyer thought he had made it! He had eternal life! Surely Jesus must agree!

To answer his question, Jesus told him an interesting story. It was about a Jewish man who was on a journey, but who was robbed and beaten along the way. It was severe, and this man was dying. As he lay there, two different people passed by: a priest who served in the temple, and then a Levite, who was a temple assistant. But neither wanted anything to do with him! God had forbidden anyone who worked at the temple to touch a dead body, and it was a week-long process to become ceremonially clean again if it did happen. These two guys probably didn’t think helping this man was worth the risk.
The third man that came was a Samaritan. Of all people, he stopped to help! This was not good for the wounded Jewish man, because the Jews hated Samaritans – they had been bitter enemies for almost 500 years! But he took the Jewish man to a nearby inn, and gave the innkeeper a blank check to ensure his full recovery.

This story must have been shocking for the lawyer. He had asked “who is my neighbor [that I’m supposed to love]?” and it turns out to be a hated Samaritan. Even more shocking, was that he had asked Jesus specifically who his neighbor was and Jesus pictured this “best in the world” lawyer as nothing more than a beat-up, half-dead, helpless man, whose religion had passed him by, and who now needed the help of someone whom he would have never associated with, ever! I wonder if it was humbling.
The picture for us is clear. The lawyer’s real question had been “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” And in the end, Jesus was showing, eternal life was not going to come from this man’s popularity and influence, his religion, his work, or any effort or intention of his own. He was almost dead, unable to help himself, and others who could have helped had passed him by. He wasn’t “the best in the world” like he thought; he wasn’t even the best on the road he lay on. All that was left was to love the hated and despised One, and allow Him to help him.

Friends, Jesus was talking about Himself. He was the hated and despised One, and yet He was the only One left who would be able to help this man. Isaiah 53:3-4 says in part: “He was despised and rejected – a man of sorrows…Yet it was our weaknesses he carried…” Jesus was offering to be this man’s neighbor, if he would put aside his foolish notions of being fine on his own, and allow Jesus to pay the cost needed to heal his injuries.

What about you? Where do you stand? When Jesus says “love your neighbor,” he means a lot of things. But what He means first is that He Himself became our neighbor. Loving Jesus means to obey Him, to trust Him, and to let Him pick you up off the road you have been abandoned on. You cannot give to anyone else that which you have not received yourself; and if you have not loved your neighbor by accepting Christ as the only One who can give you life, then in God’s eyes you are still nothing more than beat up and half dead, lying at the side of the road, useless for anything meaningful.

Have you accepted mercy from the despised One? Are you holding out, trying to claw your own way there? Maybe even in just a corner or two of your life? Perhaps it’s time to humble yourself, and look to the Despised One, the only true “Best in the World.”

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Welcome

"Double-edged"is bilingual blog in affiliation with Truth Monthly, a Chinese Christian monthly print publication based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

This blog features mostly original writings as well as comics, poetry, and other works of art by local Christian young adults.

For more information or to submit your own writing, please email tm.double.edged@gmail.com

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