“New Neighbor”

We’re quite familiar with the traditional boiling down of the Parable of the Good Samaritan’s message to an example story: “We should help everyone, everyone is our neighbor.” “Don’t be like this. Be like this.” “Don’t be self-righteous, assuming God can’t work through people you look down on. Instead be like the Samaritan helping those you meet each day who need your help.” While that’s true, God can indeed use anyone, these aren’t the only message of the parable of the Good Samaritan. I’m not sure they’re the most important messages. Parables, Jesus’ parables, are rarely that easy or simple. There’s usually more to them. Lots more. This morning I want to look at another way of interpreting the parable… The illustration to the right is The Good Samaritan, by artist He Qi

Scripture Reading: Psalm 82A Plea for Justice. A Psalm of Asaph.

God has taken his place in the divine council;
    in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
“How long will you judge unjustly
    and show partiality to the wicked? Selah
Give justice to the weak and the orphan;
    maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
    deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
They have neither knowledge nor understanding;
    they walk around in darkness;
    all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
I say, “You are gods, children of the Most High, all of you;
nevertheless, you shall die like mortals
    and fall like any prince.”
Rise up, O God, judge the earth,
    for all the nations belong to you!

Gospel Reading: Luke 10:25-37—The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 An expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” 27 He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” 29 But wanting to vindicate himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and took off, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan while traveling came upon him, and when he saw him he was moved with compassion. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, treating them with oil and wine. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him, and when I come back I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”