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Inglesia del Nazareno Communidad de la Esperanza
July 21, 2013 : A Look at Compassion
Dr. Burnie R. Burnside
Today’s text is found in Luke 10:25-37, it is the familiar story of the Good Samaritan, and it is told in response to a question asked of Jesus by a Jewish lawyer. The story begins in verse twenty-five where we read, “And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"
Jesus throws the question back in the lawyer’s lap in verse twenty-six: “He said to him, "What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?"
In verse twenty-seven the lawyer answers Jesus, "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,” and "your neighbor as yourself." (28) And He said to him, "You have answered rightly; do this and you will live."
Jesus responds by saying, “Good answer, now do it.”
Now the Old Testament lawyer did what lawyers do so well he looked for a loophole in the law. In verse twenty-nine says, “But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
We are often like the lawyer in that we try to reduce God’s commands to something we can live with.
The lawyer’s original question was “What do I have to do to get in?” But Jesus’ answer is to tell him what someone who is already in looks like. Like many of us, the Lawyer was totally unprepared for Jesus’ story about what compassion looks like in real life.
This story teaches us some basic lessons concerning compassion.
Compassion Is Based On Need Not Worth
In verse thirty we read, “Then Jesus answered and said: "A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.”
The first passer-by is introduced in verse thirty-one, “Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.”
One of the most shocking aspects of this parable was the priest. He was considered the holiest person there was among the Jews. If anyone was going to reflect the character of God, it would be the priest.
The second passer-by is introduced in verse thirty-two, “Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.”
The Levite at least went over and looked at the man, but he too did not feel a need to do any thing to help.
These two religious professionals, were caught up in a life-less religion. They played at church, but it does not affect the way they live. Does yours?
Compassion Feels Something
In verse thirty-three we read, “But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion.”
It is not even a Jew helping a Jew, but rather a Samaritan helping a Jew who had been ignored by his fellow Jews.
The Greek word used here for compassion (splanchnizomai) is a very vivid one. It comes from a word that refers to the intestines, or bowels.
Compassion stirs us; it troubles us, it keeps us awake at night until we do something.
Of all the people who passed by this injured man, the Samaritan had the least reason to help.
Compassion Does Something (v. 34)
The Samaritan’s compassion caused him to feel something so deeply that it had to be expressed in action.
In verse thirty-four we are told, “So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.”
You must move toward people to express compassion, in order to build relationships.
We may not be able to help everywhere, or help everyone, but we can help somewhere and try to do a meaningful work of service.
Compassion Cost Something (v. 35)
“On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, "Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.”
Compassion Demonstrates Our Relationship to God (vv. 36-37)
At the conclusion of His story he asks the lawyer one additional question in verse thirty-six, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to him who fell among the thieves.”
The lawyer cannot even bring himself to say the word “Samaritan” and so he responds in verse thirty-seven with, "He who showed mercy on him."
And for the second time Jesus tells this man to do something in order to inherit eternal life: "Go and do likewise."
The question had been turned on him and is now, “What kind of neighbor am I?”
In 1 John 3:16-18, we read, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (17) But whoever has this world?s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? (18) My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”
James in his practical principles for living the Christian life says in (James 1:15-17), “If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, (16) and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? (17) Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
Compassion demonstrates whether we have we have a relationship with God.
In this story Jesus is separating the person who has a real relationship with God from the merely religious. We saw what the religious folks did when they saw this man bruised and battered by the side of the road. They kept walking. In fact, they crossed the street and kept walking.
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