Have you ever wondered what it was like after Jesus told a story or offered a teaching moment? I don’t mean the recorded things, but the things to which we aren’t privileged?
For example the story of the “Good Samaritan.” The story was part of a recent sermon, so forgive me for stretching it a little.
An “expert in the law” asked Jesus what it took to have eternal life. No other question, just that one. Jesus asks him what the law says and how he reads it. He replies with what we call the “Great Commandment.” When Jesus tells him that’s the right answer, he wants to know Jesus’ definition of “neighbor.” The answer is the story we know as “The Good Samaritan.”
We need to remember that Jesus had just been denied common hospitality in a Samaritan town, and was told he and his disciples were not welcome to stay the night, but to keep on moving. James and John were naturally incensed by this, even though the same could have been true of a Samaritan traveling through a Jewish village. They ask Jesus if they could call fire down on the town that had sent them packing. I don’t know if there was a certain curse or prayer available for such a thing, but Jesus tells them to get over it.
Then comes the opportunity to tell an “expert in the law” a story about whom a neighbor is, and Jesus, of all available people, uses a Samaritan! Keep in mind the original question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” We would probably say, “What must I do to be saved?”
The story is over, the lawyer got an answer to his question about what it takes to inherit eternal life. Jesus and the disciples move on, but James and John are huffed. James says, “Not only did he embarrass us over the fire from heaven thing, but he pours it on with that story about the good neighbor by using a Samaritan!”
“Tell me about it,” said John. “First we get run out of their town and the next thing he does is make one of them a hero!”
“I think there’s more to this story than meets the eye.”
“What do you mean?”
“Little brother, didn’t you hear the question? The lawyer asked what it took to have eternal life! And Jesus tells a story about a Samaritan who does a good thing for a Jew!”
“I know. I heard. Do you think I”m deaf? What’s your point?”
“No John boy, I don’t think you’re deaf, just dense! I think you were so frustrated that he would use a Samaritan that you didn’t hear the whole story. Did you hear what Jesus said when he told the lawyer he’d answered correctly about the Samaritan being the one who was a neighbor because he kept the commandment?”
“Yeah, he told the lawyer to go and do the same kind of stuff. So what?”
“So what!? The question was how to have eternal life. Jesus said when the Samaritan did what the commandment said, he’d done what gives eternal life!”
“I didn’t hear that.”
“You just said you heard Jesus say, ‘Go and do likewise.’ Jesus said the Samaritan did that, and now has what it takes to have eternal life! They don’t worship like us. They don’t see the temple as the right place to worship. They don’t accept the same books as authoritative that we do. So how can Jesus say the Samaritan could have eternal life?”
“Because he fulfilled the commandment.”
“So since the Samaritan, or any Samaritan, does that kind of thing, they can have eternal life! They don’t have to be like us!? He’s got to be kidding!”
“Maybe they could mess up some other way, you know, eat bacon.”
“That’s not the point! You wanted to turn them to toast as much as I did! That’s the way it’s always been! They’re right next to Gentiles on the no way list! Now Jesus is saying if they keep the Great Commandment they can have eternal life! Do you think the other guys are upset about what Jesus said?”
“Who knows? Half the time they are arguing over who will be the most powerful when Jesus sets up the kingdom. They have no idea how wrong they are. We are not called the ‘Sons of Thunder’ for nothing. Jesus may not have liked our idea about burning down the city, but he knows we are the only ones with the guts to suggest it. He knows we are the best ones to advise him when he sits on his throne. All we have to do is wait for the right time to remind him.”
“Good point. Maybe Jesus is just trying to let us know that the Samaritans will have some use when the whole original nation of Israel is under his control. You know, somebody has to do the dirty work. But that thing about getting eternal life by just doing stuff like the Samaritan did still bothers me. With all the rest of the commandments, how could Jesus say that one of them was also all of them?”
“You may think that I’m dense, but maybe it isn’t the act of love itself, but where that act comes from.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, the Samaritan, if there is such a Samaritan, and I have my doubts, was a loving person without the commandment. If he could be real, he was not a commandment follower, but a kind and loving person in his heart. And maybe that’s what Jesus was talking about. Not that he so much kept the commandment, but that he was the commandment. So it’s not about keeping one commandment, it’s about what kind of person you are in your heart. Didn’t Jesus say something about how a good tree can only bear good fruit? Maybe that’s why the Samaritan had eternal life”
“Little brother, you may be right. But that’s going to be a hard sell and I’m not sure any of us Jews are ready for it. We both know Jesus is something of a dreamer. When the kingdom comes we’d better be sure we are in a position to set some conditions. The idea of a kingdom without walls is impossible”
CONCERNS: Bud McWhorter will have knee replacement surgery on the 27th. Remember Betty Billings, Keith’s sister who is in rehab for some issues and a broken leg. She lives in Alabama. Del Bolin’s eye is almost completely healed. Stephanie Dixon, as she prepares for her upcoming surgery. Nathan Beach, Eleanor Bresee, Erma Williams’ aunt (cancer), Leena Bolin’s mother, Helen, and Leena’s aunt, Lee Nicklas. Sue Huels, Betty Foy’s sister. Sandra Anderson and Gil Richardson. Kim (Hall’s) friend, Mary. Wayne and Susan Phlegar. Rich Crites, Jim Hunter Deana McRoy, Stephanie Rigney, Marge Greenwood and Del Bolin’s friend, Sharon.
Continue to remember Jenni Cullum, Tim Elder, Mary Smith, Mrs Matara, Marie Barnett and her mother. Wayne Flora’s postmaster, Todd Baumgardner had surgery and is on a waiting list for a lung transplant.
OUR DAILY BREAD: OCTOBER 20-25
Monday: Ephesians 1:3-14
Tuesday: Philippians 1:3-18
Wednesday: II Corinthians 9:6-15
Thursday: Luke 5:17-26
Friday: I Timothy 6:1-10
Saturday: Psalm 111:1-10
OUR DAILY BREAD: OCT. 27-NOV. 1
Monday: John 1:1-18
Tuesday: Luke 18:1-14
Wednesday: I Corinthians 5:1-8
Thursday: II Corinthians 1:23-2:11
Friday: Job 1:1-13-2:11
Saturday: Psalm 97:1-12
Bonnie and Scott Blessing are grandparents again. Daughter Rebecca and husband had a baby boy on October 9th. His name is Landon, and he weighed in at 7lbs. 13oz. Mom Baby and everyone are doing fine.
SUPER DAY SUPER SUNDAY
After a rainy week we have a sunny weekend. Today is both Super Sunday and the Peaks of Otter hike and picnic. Please enjoy the fellowship meal following the service.
THE PEAKS PICNIC
Today is going to be sunny and relatively warm, and crisp, about 66 degrees. A good day to take in the colors at the Peaks of Otter. As always, if you plan to ride the bus to near the top, get there as early as you can. If it is crowded, the tickets sell out quickly.
It’s good to have Erma able to be with us again this year. She put all the food together and will be there trying to secure a spot for the picnic. If you’re not climbing Sharp Top, look for her and give her a hand with the fire, etc. Come and enjoy the day together.
THE WORK DAY
The weather canceled the work day. There are several things which can be done inside as well as outside. Some pews need to be cut down where we had to widen the back for wheelchairs after the new rest room was completed. Another pew needs to be replaced or repaired because of a separation in the wood. The downstairs wall in the communion preparation room needs some attention, and then the Drylock to be applied to the wall. There is a similar problem under the bench in the women’s rest room. We can schedule small groups to come and work on these things. On the outside there needs to be some trimming of the shrubs in front of the building on the Carlton Street side.
RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE
Sunday evening, the 26th of this month, the young people will be preparing the evening meal at the Ronald McDonald House. There will be several of these meals to be prepared in the coming months. See Martha Albert if you will help.