Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Priority of Jesus’ Words
Lk.10:25-42 - And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
38 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word.
40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
any times we miss the underlying truths of God’s Word. We are content to scratch the surface while there are nuggets of treasure still just below the surface. A Jewish lawyer attempts to confound and trick Jesus. He desires to know Jesus’ thoughts on what he needs to do to inherit eternal life. Of course Jesus knows all about his motives, and as is sometimes Jesus’ way He asks the lawyer a question right back. “What does the law (Word) say,” Jesus asks.
The lawyer rightly says that we should love the Lord with all our hearts and we should love our neighbors as well. Jesus acknowledges the truth of that statement and exhorts the man to do it. But again the lawyer wants to pin Jesus in a corner, and he asks, “Who is my neighbor?” It is at that moment that Jesus begins a parable we call the Good Samaritan.
The parable reveals the kindness by a Samaritan, a social outcast due to his mixed ethnicity, and Jesus juxtaposes it against the ambivalence of a priest and a Levite. It is most striking, and even more so in the Jewish culture. Let me offer that same parable with a western culture tilt:
2012 Frueh Paraphrase - all rights reserved. (smile)
Lk.10:30-37 - And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from New York to Philadelphia, and fell among carjackers, which took his wallet, beat him, and stole his car left him half dead.
31 And by chance there came a certain evangelical pastor driving that way: he slowed down and saw the beaten him, but he drove right by.
32 And likewise the president of a Baptist University , when he rode by, slowed down and looked on him, and drove right by.
33 But a certain convicted felon, as he drove a very old car, came to where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion on him and pulled over.
34 And this felon went over to him, and bound up his wounds the best he could and called 911, and he put him in his own car and drove him to the hospital. He waited with the man all night long.
35 The next day the felon had to leave but he was so concerned with the injured man he left his phone number and promised to check in on him.
36 Which now of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who had been assaulted?
37 And he said, He that showed mercy and concern for him. Then said Jesus unto him, You go and do the same thing.

That might bring out a little more of this parable’s meaning when it comes in a western culture setting. But the Jewish version is much more pungent since the Jews hated the Samaritans and considered them mongrels and kin to the Gentiles. Most of us do not hate felons. The parable is replete with principles of humility, self righteousness, and how God does not favor persons based upon their religious status as defined by man.
Ok, we get it. But no sooner does the social gospel proponent clap his hands and the liberal humanitarian celebrate his Scriptural good fortune, then Jesus is invited into Martha’s house and will put a new twist on all it. We learn that Martha had a sister named Mary. And the Scripture says this:
And she (Martha) had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word.
But what was Martha doing? The Scripture says:
But Martha was cumbered about much serving…
K, Martha was busy getting things ready in the kitchen. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, it seems to reveal a servant’s heart that to a lesser degree mirrors the Good Samaritan. And the social gospel proponent and the liberal humanitarian applaud Martha’s work and may consider Mary’s place at Jesus’ feet much too impractical and ethereal. What good is Mary doing for the world?
But when Martha complains to Jesus that Mary is not helping with the kitchen work, Jesus responds with a stunning revelation.
And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her
What? Jesus just rendered a convicting parable about doing good works to others and now He applauds what Mary is doing? Oh yes, here we have another example of how we must interpret the entirety of Scripture and not just cull out certain sections and make points that are only partially true and are in need of a more complete revelation. Humanitarian deeds are very important in the life of a believer, and they serve to aid in the furtherance of the gospel. However, we must never neglect the study, meditation, and daily consumption of God’s Word. That, says Jesus, is the better part.
And therein lies an immutable truth concerning a disciple’s life. We must be ravenous for more of Jesus, and that hunger cannot be satisfied but through God’s Word and a careful and expansive life of prayer that in effect builds upon the foundation of God’s Word. The connection between the Word and authentic prayer is unmistakable and is an important mystery. The neglecting of both the Word and prayer in the church is most distressing and renders Mary’s part as incidental and subservient to all the pragmatisms of the western church.
But no one can be a dedicated disciple of Jesus Christ without a determined journey to understand and emulate God’s Word along with the indispensable infusion of power through the ministry of prayer. This fast paced culture has robbed the church of the glories connected with time spent in God’s presence without the pressure of time and earthly duties. But Jesus pulls the carpet out from under the lawyer who is versed in the Word, but He also pulls out the carpet from under Martha who is consumed with earthly endeavors at the expense of her spiritual needs.
We must first establish a pattern of seeking Christ through His Word and prayer, then we can establish a pattern of good works that are not redemptive on their own, but shine a living light upon Him who is redemption alone. The social gospel is a lie, but striving to minister some social justice in the course of spreading the gospel is the way of Jesus. Jesus is the only Redeemer, but He also was the most profound teacher of all. I love how He teaches that we should be like the Good Samaritan, but then He proclaims that sitting at His feet and listening to His words is the best part!
What a Savior!!

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