Becoming a Good Samaritan: Loving the Forsaken

Matthew 25:31-46

I had planned to go through three more sermons on the subject of Becoming a Good Samaritan, but I have made a change of plans. Today’s sermon will conclude this series. The topic is limitless in the Scripture and is the ongoing call to the Christian to intercede for those who need us most. The text today is a fitting end for our discussion. It is not a parable, but does has several parabolic elements. This section directs our thoughts to the last day “when the Son of Man comes in His glory” and we learn that He will discuss how we have or have not loved the forsaken. This will be a key indicator of our genuine allegiance.

READ Scripture- This is the Word of God

The Setting
That the Lord will return is the hope of the Christian and the proclamation of the Church.
It was Daniel in the Old Testament who spoke of the Son of Man coming,
“I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.
Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away,
And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.”
That same expectation was continued into the New Testament by the teaching of Jesus, the Apostles, and the early Church…SEE Matt 25:31; Acts 1:11; 1 Cor 4:5; Rev 1:7
The Son of Man will come in all His glory. There is no earthly description that could be used to convey the message. It will be so splendid that we have no reference for such.

The setting begins after the coming of the Lord and all the holy angels with Him.
We are fast-forwarded to a scene of Christ seated on His judgment throne and all the nations of the earth have been gathered before Him. We are told that Christ Himself will be the One to do the work of (obviously a judge, but specifically) a shepherd: separate the sheep from the goats. The sheep will be gathered to His right side and the goats to His left. In the passage, the Son of Man is also referred to as King…Son of the Father (My Father)...and Lord.

The Message to the Sheep“…for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.”

The Lord lists off six good deeds that the sheep had done, and surely this list is not exhaustive. His point must be that those welcomed into the kingdom are those who helped Jesus in times of need. Yet, an excellent observation is made by the sheep: When did we see You and help You?

Jesus explains what He means, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”

The least of these are His brethren. Jesus is very specific. He is talking about Christians helping other Christians. Jesus’ disciples are His brothers, His family (LOOK at Matt 12:49-50).

The Message to the Goats“Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels…”

Why? They did NOT do those things.

Everlasting Punishment/Eternal Life“And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

1. Everlasting Punishment: Goats (Left Hand)
2. Eternal Life: Sheep (Right Hand)

Feeding the hungry…Hydrating the thirsty…Taking in the stranger…Clothing the naked…Visiting the sick…Going to the imprisoned…Are all indicators of your true allegiance.

Put yourself in the situation of the persecuted church in the first century. Those who became Christians were often forsaken by their entire communities and even their own families. They were abused and neglected, hated by men… They were punished and imprisoned for not worshipping the gods of Rome and for declaring Christ as Lord, not the emperor. Many of those who went out into the world proclaiming the Good News of the crucified and risen Jesus of Nazareth were despised…left hungry…thirsty…homeless…stripped…and sick.

If a Christian saw a brother/sister in this condition and could not offer him/her help…that would be a tale-tale sign of his/her loyalty because we are called to love one another. Where does you allegiance lie this morning? To who are you committed? The Apostle John learned this lesson from the Lord. He asked in his first epistle, “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” Later he says, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” That is why Christ said in Matt 25, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” You know, we often say that we want others to see Christ in us, but have you ever thought that you are to see Christ in others? It was James who said, “If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?”

*Now, this teaching may bring up some conflicts in your mind. You know that we are saved by grace through faith. And the Gospel tells us that there is nothing we can do to be saved…only believe in the work of Jesus Christ. It is not by our works, only by grace. Yet, in this text it sounds like we must come to the aide of our brethren in need in order to enter the kingdom.
*Note v34 “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…” This is the basis of our salvation…we are the Father’s blessed ones.
He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world. He chose us who would believe in His Son who was sent into the world. We are saved because we are freely justified by His grace, we are freely blessed with the inheritance of His mercy found in Jesus Christ.

The works that follow our faith (such as the six listed in this text and much more) are only the fruits of the work that God has done in us. They indicate what has happened in our souls.

As we conclude this sermon and this series for now, let me emphasize the point that much more by incorporating one more text. TURN to Luke 6:27-36.

In Matthew 25 we learn that our love/compassion toward other Christians is an appropriate confirmation of the faith that we have put in Christ. When we are devoted to our own brethren we demonstrate our allegiance to Christ.

In Luke 6 the Lord is clear that our concern must extend to unbelievers, even enemies.

One person put it this way:
“Here I want to make two points. One is that we are drawn to show mercy to some people because they are Christians. The other is that we are drawn to show mercy to some people because they are not Christians. We are drawn to show mercy to Christians because we see Christ in them, and we are drawn to show mercy to unbelievers because we want to see Christ in them. We help suffering believers because they bear the name of Christ. And we help suffering unbelievers in the hope that they will come to bear the name of Christ.”

Becoming a Good Samaritan: Defending the Defenseless, Seeking Justice

Isaiah 1:16-18

Isaiah chapter one begins with what Isaiah calls a “vision.” What we soon learn is that this vision was not seen with the eyes. The LORD revealed His message to Judah through the prophet Isaiah in words. In 1:20 Isaiah says, “The mouth of the LORD has spoken” and then, interestingly enough, in 2:1 he says, “The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw…” These things that he saw were words for the people to hear and read. The message was primarily for the rulers, priests, and prophets in Jerusalem, yet it extends to all the people of Israel, both northern and southern kingdoms. All of chapter one is an indictment of the covenant people. Isaiah calls upon heaven and earth to listen in as witnesses to the trial and the LORD God Himself is the plaintiff who brings charge against Israel.

Point 1: Verses 1-15
A. In this first section of verses, God condemns the people for rebellion, disobedience, and false worship. They had forsaken the LORD. They actually despised Him.

B. The LORD calls them a “sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers.”

C. You see, the Israelites were ashamed of their Yahweism because it called on them to be holy. The torah (instruction) of Yahweh called on them to be different from the surrounding nations by worshipping Him alone, participating in orderly worship, and being sexually moral. This was not popular among many in Israel throughout their history. They saw the neighboring countries participating in idol worship and liked what they saw. In worshipping the foreign gods they could party in drunkenness and sexual immorality and still be consider religious/spiritual.

D. The immorality and outright rebellion against God was so bad that if it wasn’t for the LORD they would have become like Sodom and Gomorrah. What an accusation!

E. Because of Israel’s sinful lusts they blended worship of Yahweh with the world. They were, in fact, not holy as God is holy. They were not a light to the nations. They conformed to the world and were not transformed by the renewing of their minds. In this false worship, which has survived even until today, Judah made one major mistake: they thought that they could live however they pleased and then make up with God during worship through rituals. This was/is blasphemy against Almighty God. There is nothing more grotesque in His eyes. God says, “I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting.” It is because of this that God’s wrath is poured out on the people. He says, “When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not hear.”

Connective: This background brings us to our main text to consider for today.

READ Scripture- This is the Word of God

Point 2: Repent v16
A. Repentance must proceed cleansing/forgiveness. We must acknowledge our sin.

B. For what did Israel need to acknowledge and repent? *INJUSTICE*
1. The LORD reckons injustice to be as sickening and as blasphemous as idolatry.
Furthermore, the LORD uses the same language for both: He pictures it as prostitution. In v21 the LORD says, “How the faithful city has become a harlot! It was full of justice; righteousness lodged in it, but now murderers…They do not defend the fatherless, nor does the cause of the widow come before them.

2. Throughout the prophets we find this same indictment on Israel.
SEE Isa 10:1-2; Amos 4:1-2; Micah 3:9-10, 12

C. The transition from v16 to v17 is simple and it is the definition of repentance:
“…Cease to do evil, Learn to do good…”

Point 3: Learn to Do Good v17
A. How do you wash yourself and make yourself clean?
1. It is not enough to quit what you are doing (cease to do evil), that is a start
2. Learn to do good

B. What is the good we must learn to do?
1. Seek Justice
2. Rebuke the Oppressor (correct oppression)
Two Examples: a) defend the fatherless b) plead for the widow
These two are constantly used in Scripture to represent the defenseless
Who else? Orphans, widows, innocent divorcees, unborn babies, minorities, immigrants, disabled, shut-ins

C. Where does injustice exist in today’s world? *All over the globe! Even in our own community

D. There is a principle in the Bible that requires us to include, not exclude others. Actually, if we are fearful of Almighty God, then it forces us to include all people. This principle is that we were all created in the image of God. We must realize that the Lamb who was slain, the Lord Jesus Christ, has redeemed us to God by His “blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation…” (Rev 5:9). We are all in His image, created by the work of His hands. He loves the whole world the same.

E. Fairness can change people, communities, and nations…
*Many of us know what it is to be underprivileged, whether as children or as adults.
Some of us know what it is like to be deprived, abused, neglected…
A few of you have told me very personal stories to this effect…
**It is the Christian’s HIGHEST DUTY to step in and seek justice for those who can not defend themselves.

F. Texts to Ponder: Hos 6:6; Prov 21:3; Mic 6:8
Point 4: Let Us Reason Together v18
A. Here are your options to consider…
*Repent and be cleansed. What the people have been instructed to do, God does.
Here is the Gospel in the Old Testament. Turn and be forgiven!

B. “Scarlet” recalls the last phrase of v15 “Your hands are full of blood.”
*God can change the unchangeable. He can undo what we have done.

Conclusion: Here are some instructions for justice found in the Law-
Dt 24:17 “You shall not pervert justice due the stranger or the fatherless, nor take a widow’s garment as a pledge.”

Dt 24:19-21 “When you reap your harvest in your field, and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not glean it afterward; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow.”

Dt 26:12-13 “When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase in the third year—the year of tithing—and have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your gates and be filled, then you shall say before the LORD your God: ‘I have removed the holy tithe from my house, and also have given them to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed Your commandments, nor have I forgotten them.”

Dt 27:18-19 “‘Cursed is the one who makes the blind to wander off the road.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
‘Cursed is the one who perverts the justice due the stranger, the fatherless, and widow.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’”

*We are called to be holy – unique, special, different, light and salt…
Saying, I love God is not enough. Kindness and humility is not enough.
We must seek JUSTICE for the oppressed; DEFEND the DEFENSELESS…

Becoming a Good Samaritan: Caring for the Sick

Matthew 9:35-38

In a society full of images and action, tee ball practice and work, very rarely do any of us get to catch our breath. Even when we go on vacation, it is constantly going here and going there. Very few people have much of an attention span. You know, there is no way that a church service or a sermon could ever compete with the tv. I don’t know how teachers get any decent results out of their students. On tv there is a new visual every six seconds or so and you are going to be here listening to me for the next 30 minutes.

The point that I’m making is that our attentiveness to the important matters is lacking. We have so many issues to take care of and so many thoughts racing through our minds 24 hours a day that we have a hard time slowing down to focus on one priority. After working all day we come home and watch tv, talk on the phone, and cook supper all at the same time. Teenagers watch tv, get on the computer, talk to a friend on the phone, text another on their cell, & do homework ALL at the same time. Life in America 2011 is hectic to say the least.

I hope that you are challenged by the Word of God today to be more attentive to the needs of others and become a Good Samaritan by caring for the sick.

READ Scripture- This is the Word of God

Point 1: Gospel Ministry Involves Caring for the Sick (v35)
A. Jesus didn’t heal everyone that He ever passed, but He was aware of sickness/disease.
His ministry on earth included teaching, preaching, and healing.

B. In Matthew C9 alone, Jesus heals a paralytic man, a woman with an issue of blood, a girl on her death-bed, two blind men, and a man who was mute and demon-possessed!
a. Isn’t that amazing?
b. Jesus hardly ever slept: preaching and healing

C. Just after this text in Matt 10:1, Jesus gives to His disciples the authority and power to do exactly what He had been doing- “to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.”
a. Gospel ministry involves being attentive to the sick
b. We may not have the power to do what the 12 Apostles did, but we have a variety of means to care for the sick. Jesus was attentive to every type of sickness and disease.

D. Statistics
a. AIDS: has spread to every country in the world (approx. 2 million deaths per year)
b. Tuberculosis: 1/3 of the world’s population infected (approx 2 million deaths per year)
c. Cancer: as of 2002, 24.6 million cancer survivors world-wide (basically incalculable)
d. Malaria: spread to 109 countries (approx 1 million deaths per year/mostly children)
e. Diabetes: 23.6 million people in the US
f. Alzheimer’s: 5.4 million people in the US
g. Flu: 200,000 people are hospitalized each year
E. Gospel Ministry
a. Pray for healing
b. Give special attention to the sick, disabled, hurting (volunteer time)
c. Teach the truth: the sick need to hear the Gospel
d. Research and Inform others – Do what you can to fight disease

Point 2: Compassion (v36)
A. Jesus would look on people with compassion.
a. Is there a tug in your heart of compassion for those in need?
b. SEE Rom 8:9 Test yourself to see if the Spirit of Christ is in you.

B. Multitudes: weary and scattered
a. The people were harassed and oppressed by their religious leaders
b. The people were helpless with no spiritual leadership nor any attentiveness to needs
c. People today are also harassed and helpless – Bad leadership, fallen world (sickness)

C. Multitudes: like sheep having no shepherd (they were lost)

D. A Word to the Sick
a. If you are here today and are sick, we love you and God cares especially for you
b. Compassion wells up in my heart for you – I am praying (though many are unknown)
c. Take courage: be bold to fight your sickness and live for Christ
d. Disease is evil – Do Not let evil overcome you
e. Living with pain is difficult, draining, and down-right depressing (talk about it)
f. Do everything within your strength to be here – though our bodies waste away we need spiritual nourishment from Christian fellowship and Gospel teaching

Point 3: The Harvest (vv37-38)
A. Harvest is plentiful
a. Our work is never finished until Christ returns!
b. There are so many ready to hear the Gospel, many who need our godly care
B. Laborers are few – Pray for more laborers
a. A challenge to us – you may be one answer to your own prayer
b. SEE John 14:12 Jesus said we would do greater works – more time
c. The greatest sickness on earth is sin because it destroys everything (esp. the soul)
d. We must minister to the needs of the physically sick and at the same time be aware of their spiritual condition. Sickness causes our bodies to fail us and that can take a toil on our faith as well. So, we must simultaneously minister to sickness and soul. “Yes, you are sick, weak, hurting, YET stay encouraged. God has promised much better. He will deliver you. He will sustain you. He will give you life to the fullest. Trust Him.”

Conclusion: I know that it is hard enough to be attentive to our own families’ needs much less those of others, but we have been called to be a blessing to the world. Do you know the reason God blesses Christians? The answer is not because we are good or that we have earned it...

The reason we receive blessings is so that we can share them with others. If you have good health, then thank the Lord and bless someone around you that does not. This blessing can take on many activities. Let your imagination run wild for things you can do for the sick: pray, visit, mow their grass, clean their house, give them a ride to the store or doctor, maybe you could hand them some money, send a card, give them a phone call, cook a meal… Care for the sick with the love/compassion of Christ.

We must be attentive to the seemingly small things in life.
My hope is that the Spirit of the Living God will awaken compassion in your hearts for the sick.

In a world that couldn’t care less, we must care more.

Becoming a Good Samaritan: Who is My Neighbor?

Luke 10:25-37


READ Scripture- This is the Word of God

Point 1: Interchange [vv25-29]
1) Lawyer – Question  “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
2) Jesus – Question  “What is written in the law?”
3) Lawyer – Answer  Love God and love neighbor
4) Jesus – Answer  “Do this and you will live.”
*This sounds much like the exchange between Jesus and the rich ruler. In fact, Lk 18:18 tells us that the ruler asked the same question.

5) Lawyer – Question  “Who is my neighbor?”

Eternal Life = Love God [Dt 6:5] and Love Neighbor [Lev 19:18]
*We will come back to these two Scriptures.*

Point 2: Parable [vv30-35]
*Jericho to Jerusalem – 17 miles of treacherous territory, barren, hilly, known for its threats
**The story is told from the perspective of the victim.
A. Priest = saw, passed on other side
B. Levite = looked, passed on other side (2nd ranking, descendants of Levi but not Aaron)

C. Samaritan (descendants of mixed population, part Jew, built own temple, formed their own version of the Pentateuch, their own liturgy, their own religious literature, though we can not be sure to what extent this carried but Jews and Samaritans had bad relations)
1. saw, compassion (all 3 saw with their own eyes, Samaritan had compassion)
SEE Matt 9:36; 14:14; 15:32; 20:24
2. bandaged wounds, poured oil/wine (for healing and disinfectant)
3. set him on his own animal (he walked the rest of the trip)
4. brought him to inn (danger of being seen in public with wounded man)
5. took care of him (risked his own safety)
6. invested resources (over 2 weeks worth, promised more if needed)

Point 3: Christian Distinctive
A. If we give the inquiring lawyer the benefit of the doubt for testing Jesus then it appears that he had the book-answer for the original question that he asked, but he did not have a real-life application or understanding of it.

B. ***Through faith in Jesus the two commands, love God and love neighbor, are fused into one. This is the distinctive:
a. There are many who love God and neglect their neighbors.
b. There are many who love their neighbors and couldn’t care less about God.
*Notice in Lev 19:18 that a command to love our neighbor ends with “I am Yahweh.”
- Serving others is serving God. SEE 1 Jn 4:20-21

Point 4: Becoming a Good Samaritan [vv36-37]
A. “Go and do likewise.”

B. The lawyer is forced to say that the Samaritan acted neighborly.

C. Since the story is told from the perspective of the victim, we are, in essence, challenged to take up the victim’s perspective. We are to take up our neighbor’s perspective.

God has said, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” The Scripture also asks, “What does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”

We are called to show mercy, have compassion, meet needs…

I hope that you take up the challenge in the next six weeks or so to become a Good Samaritan.