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“Come and See” or “Go and Care” January 4, 2013

Posted by roberttalley in Good Samaritan, Luke.
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(Luke 10:25-37)

There is a debate about what is the best way to live the Christian life. Some would argue that we need to attract the unbeliever to our services. Others would say we need to go out and reach the lost where they are. I can find good evidence in the Bible for both strategies but I will argue for the strengths of one today.

What I fear is that too many Christians live as if the church and Christianity is the Holy of Holies. No one was supposed to go into the Holy of Holies. Gentiles never, women never, regular Jews never, priests never, the high priest once a year.

When Jesus died, however, the curtain that shut even the priests out of the Holy of Holies was rent in two symbolizing that access to God is now available for all men through Jesus Christ. So access is available. How do we bring men and women, boys and girls to that access?

1. There are two types of Christian lifestyles we can practice, both of which have some legitimacy and effectiveness. They both have the same end goal, eternal life in the kingdom of God. You will notice that the lifestyle that shuts people out, that does not take advantage of either of these methods has no biblical precedent. Even before the temple veil was rent in two, it was never intended that Israel become isolated from the rest of world. There are, however, multiple examples of both “come and see” and “go and care.”

a. Apart from grace, the goal of eternal life is impossible for us to reach (verses 27-28). French philosopher Blaise Pascal once wrote, “To make a man a saint, grace is absolutely necessary and whoever doubts it, does not know what a saint is or what a man is.” James 2:8-13 teaches that if we once do not love our neighbor as ourselves we will be judged by God.

b. This goal is a definite command to all men but especially to us as believers (verse 37). We forget that this is the law of God. We do not need to ask people if they have kept the Ten Commandments. We need simply to ask if they have loved the Lord their God with all their heart and their neighbor as themselves and every honest man will bow their head in shame recognizing that they have failed to obey the supreme commandment of God. We are condemned because we have not always loved God with all of our heart and we have often not loved our neighbor as ourselves.

2. A “come and see” lifestyle invites outsiders to come and marvel (verses 31-32). The Temple was a marvelous place. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all speak of its glory. Jesus, however, was not impressed. He knew that in a generation, the Temple would be destroyed and not one stone would be left standing on another. The Levites and the priests were important to the service, the maintenance, the management of the Temple. With great pomp and ceremony they were able to attract thousands of people from around the world, not only Jews but also Gentiles who had become proselytes or who were God fearers like the Ethiopian eunuch who worshipped the Lord God of Israel.

Away, however, from their venue, the Temple, they had nothing.

3. A “go and care” lifestyle leads us to meet the various needs of others (verses 33-36). The Samaritan was much different in his approach than were the Levite and the priest.

a. We will end up operating in areas of great personal risk. The Jericho road was dangerous for anyone traveling alone. It was steep and there were many places where robbers could hide. All of these men had put themselves in danger by travelling alone on that road. The Samaritan, however, not only traveled alone but he also allowed himself to be slowed down by the injured man that the Levite and the priest had ignored.

b. We will end up giving what we were saving for our own safety. Oil and wine are not cheap. They were only to be had in great quantities by the rich. This Samaritan does not appear to be rich but he is more than willing to use what he had to minister to injured man. The wine served as an antiseptic and the oil as a soothing and healing ointment. Perhaps he had brought these items along as a part of his own personal first aid kit.

c. We will end up investing much in others. He invested time. He invested money, two day’s pay. He invested shame as a Samaritan in a Jewish land. He invested, however, because he was a neighbor. Most of all, he invested mercy, that quality that actually makes one a neighbor. Not location. Not common interests or common bonds of humanity. It is mercy that makes us neighbors. The man who shows no mercy has no neighbors.

I would like to share two stories, one illustrating a believer who did not show mercy, the second illustrating one who did.

“[An evangelical Christian from Saint Louis] had been attending one of the largest and best churches in that city…she was raped and contracted AIDS as a result… her church…rejected her. One Sunday morning she arrived early, sat down and began to pray. A fine young family sat down next to her–the wife, two children and the husband. When he saw her, he said, “Get up. We can’t sit here.” His wife said, “What’s wrong? These seats are just fine.” He said, “Just get up. We can’t sit here.” Then he pointed at the girl and said, “She’s got AIDS’” (Richard Pritchard in http://www.keepbelieving.com/sermon/1991-02-17-The-Sensitivity-of-Jesus/ ).

“[James Stewart] told of an old Scottish believer who went to church one day feeling down because of his sins. When the communion plate was passed, he refused to partake of the elements, thinking himself unworthy. Then he saw a young woman in the congregation who also refused to partake, and then broke into tears. Stewart tells what happened next: ‘Her tears jarred him back to the truth of the gospel he himself needed to recall. In a whisper that could be heard across the church, he was heard to say: “Take it, lassie. Take it. It is meant for sinners.” And he himself partook’” (Ray Pritchard at http://www.keepbelieving.com/sermon/2012-04-06-The-Torn-Curtain/).

Are you willing to “go and care?” I am not asking you if that is a better strategy than “come and see.” There are no doubt occasions where that is a sufficient strategy, a good strategy, perhaps even the main strategy that should be used. No, the question today is are you willing?