“Go and Do Likewise” Mission and Mercy March
Scripture: Luke 10:25-37
Mercy and justice are not optional components of the Christian life. They are not varsity level Christian concerns that you mature your way up to. They are foundational, core elements of being a Christian. To follow Jesus and call him Lord and Savior means you must walk in the path of mercy and justice that he did. From the parable of the Samaritan we learn that glorious mercy received in Christ spurs generous mercy toward others
#1: Mercy is a tangible way of loving your neighbor by meeting felt need through deeds
The religious lawyer asks Jesus a question about loving your neighbor and Jesus responds with a parable about a man who showed mercy. Jesus then makes a connection between neighborly love and mercy. This encounter makes it clear that mercy is a tangible expression of neighborly love. The parable itself helps us understand more concretely what it means to show mercy. Whereas the two religious servants (the priest and the Levite) see and pass by the Jewish man in need of help, it’s the Samaritan who sees and draws near. This is because he didn’t see an enemy as others might have expected him to. He didn’t see skin color, a language difference or any of the other barriers we often focus on. He simply saw a person in need and a person made in the image of God. The other two men saw a body but not a person. They saw an inconvenience and a threat to their own safety so they were able to ignore the man and his needs.
When the Samaritan sees the physical, felt needs of the man, he responds immediately with many merciful deeds. According to the parable he responds in at least seven ways. First is physical presence as he drew near. Mercy begins just by showing up and being present with a person. Second, he got involved. The man’s problem became his problem and he began serving the man by washing him. Third and fourth, he provided transportation and shelter. He brought the man to an inn and made sure he had a roof over his head and food in his mouth. Fifth, he gave financially. He had no idea how much his mercy would cost him but he was willing to make the sacrifice, regardless of how the man would respond or repay him. Sixth, he promised a visitation. Rather than being one and done, the man decided to return to follow up and check in on the man. Seventh and last, he gave of his time. Time is often the most difficult currency to be generous with because time cannot be replenished. Once spent, time is gone forever.
#2: Mercy is the mark of a true Christian who has been shown mercy in Christ
Jesus responds that people should go and do likewise as the Samaritan did. The Bible is clear that true saving faith leads to mercy and justice. Consider passages like James 2:15-17 and 1 John 3:17-18. A Christian who loves God and neighbor cannot have mercy very far from their heart. Those born again by the Spirit and given a new heart have a powerful dynamic at work in them. The gospel is power that makes you somebody who lives in generous mercy. This is the dynamic that Jesus intends for the lawyer to see and experience. But the lawyer is too proud to sense his own need of God’s mercy. He doesn’t realize he cannot obey God’s law to love the Lord your God and love your neighbor. Therefore Jesus tells him the parable to expose his need. This is why Jesus identifies the man in need as the Jew, not the man who extends help. Jesus was helping the lawyer see how much of God’s mercy he needed. If the lawyer really understood that he was a recipient of mercy then and only then could he “go and do likewise” as Jesus commanded.
The gospel is the only dynamic at work in our hearts that’ll change us to do more than a few acts of mercy and justice. It’ll shape all of our life to be lived in such a way. We have access to this power only when we realize the parable is not meant to be a manual teaching us how to be a good Samaritan. The parable points us to a true and better Samaritan. In the same way, Jesus came for the very people who rejected and despised him and yet still showed us mercy through his death on a cross. But Jesus is better. The Samaritan put himself in harm’s way but Jesus subjected himself to certain death for us. The Samaritan bound up the wounds of this man but Jesus healed us by being wounded in our place. The Samaritan was generously willing to pay the cost no matter how much denarii it cost but Jesus generously paid all of our debt with the very cost of his life. Jesus showed us ultimate mercy and when that grips our hearts, then and only then will we be transformed to show generous mercy to others.
Group Discussion Questions
- Share something you found either interesting, memorable, convicting, confusing or challenging about the passage/sermon.
- Do you think mercy and justice are a natural, organic part of your life? Do you normally consider these things to be “spiritual” or “unspiritual”? Why?
- What are the biggest obstacles or things that prevent you from showing neighborly love in tangible ways to others? How does the gospel transform you to not just do some acts but live a life of mercy and justice?
- Seven things we see the Samaritan offer are: physical presence, involvement, transportation, shelter, finances, visitation, and time. Have you ever received any of these from somebody else? What else would you add to this list?