Stories with Luke Week 17:

The Journey

Pastor Terry Inman

08-20-17

 

Luke’s next two stores happen on Jesus final journey to Jerusalem. A journey is essential to reaching our destination. Important stuff happens when we’re on the way. We don’t always pay attention.

Today we will learn from some teaching moments along the way.

 

Bedtime stories begin with, “Once upon a Time”. The first story, here, a Parable featuring a Good Samaritan begins with; “On one occasion”. The second story, a conversation with friends, Mary and Martha, opens with, “As Jesus and His disciples were on their way”.

 

Jesus calls us to a journey. Early believers were, “Followers of The Way”. Jesus did not come to start another religion. He came to give us a new “way of life”. Eternal life is like a MapQuest of spiritual direction with an ultimate destination. Stay on the path now and you will arrive in eternity.

 

Luke’s first story on this journey begins with a professor who matched wits with Jesus. Actually he asked a rather vital question.

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10.25 NIV)

 

We think of eternal life as heaven. But eternal life is not just about our next life its about this one. Eternal life is God’s life. It is a spiritual quality of life that begins when we decide to follow Jesus as “The Way”.

 

Jesus told the disciples he was going home to make room for all of us. Remember Thomas who had doubts. He says we don’t know where you’re going or how to get there. Jesus said I’m your GPS, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14.6 NIV) Following Jesus gets us God’s life now and forever!

 

This religious law professor thought eternal life was something we inherit by being good and keeping all the right rules. A family inheritance is something we receive from having the right relationship with God!

 

Do you ever run into people who ask you a question just so they can impress you with their knowledge? Jesus countered this religious scholar with another question.

“What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” Talk to two lawyers and you will get two different interpretations of the law—the same with theologians! He answered: “ ‘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, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’’ (Luke 10.26-27 NIV)

 

Jesus affirmed his straightforward quotation from the Old Testament. “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” Luke 10.28 (NIV) The word “correctly” (Gr:orthos) is where we get orthodox. He got it right as far as religious law goes. But having all the right theological answers is not a guarantee of eternal life.

 

He thought the law was his contract with God. It entitled him to eternal life. He was pretty impressed with his religious knowledge and performance. So he didn’t stop there. Luke says, “He wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10.29 NIV)

Now he’s looking for an argument. So Jesus gives him one!

 

Jesus takes love for God to a whole new level. This guy thought he loved God, at least with his mind. He appears to love himself quite a bit also. But Jesus’ parable suggests that love for God is also indiscriminate and rather neighborly! Love for God shows up in our love for “all” people!

 

Jesus told a story about a journey. The 17-mile drive from Jerusalem down the canyons to Jericho was treacherous and dangerous. Jesus depicts an assault and an unusual first responder. Muggers “stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.” (v.30)

 

My brother-in-law John Blakeley said, some people beat people up, some people pass people up and some people help people up! TwoReligious leaders, much like this expert in the law, avoided this gruesome scene.

 

A Priest and a Levite saw him but intentionally crossed the road, (vs. 31-32). Touching a bloodied or deceased person would have made them unclean and unable to perform their religious ceremonies in the Temple.

 

A Samaritan came upon this wounded Jewish victim. Dr. Luke says, When he “saw” his condition he had compassion and administered first aid. He poured his own oil into the wounds for healing and wine for an antiseptic. Then bandaged him up probably with his own t-shirt. (vs. 33-35)

This was Jesus’ mission--healing the wounded and binding the broken!

This stranger of a different race and religion transported the victim on his own donkey to an inn, where he could get help. He paid for his keep and care and told the innkeeper he would stop back and reimburse any costs.

(slide 5) After this vivid story Jesus asked the expert a final question. “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The religious lawyer replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10.36-37

 

This is a direct answer to the expert’s original question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus says, “Go and do what the Samaritan did.”

 

This guy was pretty bright but he still needed to learn that God does not share His kingdom life with those who reject His command to love. Failure to love all the people Jesus died for, revels that we are also struggling to love God and ourselves?

 

Eternal life is not religious--it’s relational! Loving God includes loving everyone He created. “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. How can you love God you don’t see and hate your brother you do see? (I John 4.20 NIV)

 

The expert is caught in his religious bigotry he can’t even use the word “Samaritan”. To this guy, there was no such thing as a Good Samaritan. He could only say, “the one who had mercy”! We depersonalize or worse dehumanize people we are uncomfortable with. This is not God’s life!

 

Eternal life is not what we know it’s who we know. John 1:12-13 says, All who believe in God’s son and accept him, he gives the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.”

 

So eternal life is not learned or earned--it’s inherited. It’s our birthright. Believe in Jesus. Accept him as Lord and receive eternal life!

Now on to part two of the Journey: “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way” He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.”
(Luke 10:38-39 NIV)

These two women had different love languages. Martha opened her home and Mary opened her heart. Both deeply loved Jesus! Martha appears to have some issues, like all of us, but let’s not judge her spirituality.

 

Some of us are task oriented and some of us are more relational. We tend to think our temperament is the right one. Martha was apparently very hospitable. She opened her home to Jesus. Mary showed her devotion differently. She sat as a student and opened her ears to listen and learn.

Dr. Luke reveals that Martha might have been working too hard. “But Martha was distracted (Gr: perispao) encumbered-dragging around) by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

 

This is how we all are. Martha was viewing Mary though her own filter. Martha is not just preoccupied by her virtuous work; she a bit ticked off at Mary for just sitting around enjoying Jesus. She’s also a little put off by Jesus because he doesn’t realize how hard she’s working all by herself. “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Martha’s even tells Jesus what to do! Tell her to help me!”

 

Now here’s where the story gets a little sticky. On the surface it looks like Jesus is valuing one expression of love over the other. It is true that being in God’s presence is a priority or I should say a prerequisite to serving.

 

Actually Jesus’ concern here is more Martha’s attitude than her activity. She was anxious. “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried (anxious) and upset (Gr: turbe-disturbed-perturbed) about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10.41 NIV)

 

Textual translators say “better” is a bit unclear here. It could mean Mary has chosen what’s best or better for her and Jesus won’t take that away.  

 

This is not so much about Mary and Martha and their personality profiles. It is a teaching moment that Luke notes “along the way”. Jesus is telling us something. He loves both of these women and their devotion to him. But one of them is stressed out with an expected role. She is working really hard for him but not really connecting with him.

She’s also a little ticked off at her sister for not being more like her—a servant. He’s not correcting her for her hospitality he’s pointing out to her that her anxiety his causing her to miss out on something important.

 

Luke says, Mary “sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.” She’s listening and learning. This is the posture of a student. It was not something women did. Only Jewish men were educated in the Synagogue.

 

The point here is that Mary was breaking out of a traditional female role and sitting at Jesus feet as a disciple. This has been unfairly been treated as a comparison of personality types and that somehow Mary’s is better. Actually this story is about all of us, and our relationship with Jesus.

 

The expert in the law had it right, ‘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, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’’ (Luke 10.26-27 NIV)

 

But there were two things that stumped the lawyer. He thought he was entitled to eternal life for having all the right beliefs and behaviors. But was a bit misguided about neighboring. We demonstrate our love for God by loving the person in front of us no matter what race, religion, or gender. This includes neighbors that may be editing their gender.

 

Luke uses these stories to say that Jesus was a religious game changer. He came to offer us all relationship with the Father that we don’t deserve and cannot earn no matter how good we are or how hard we work. Eternal life is a gift we inherit when we are born into the family.

 

We live it out by loving people just like our big brother Jesus did. “Go and do likewise.” Sometimes it’s messy and inconvenient. Just sit at the feet of Jesus and learn what it means to live this Kingdom journey.

 

Let me leave you with Jesus words, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matt. 11.28-30 MSG)

 

Religion is heavy it brings pressure, relationship is restful it brings peace