Today I’d like to look at Mark 2:11-12. This is a great story. It tells us a lot about Jesus and I believe can tell us about some ways we think about evangelization.
Here’s the story in brief. Jesus is teaching at a house. It is full of people. People inside and probably surrounding it as well. His ministry is really starting now. People are showing up to hear this new teacher and perhaps see a miracle.
In todays look at the scriptures I’d like to look at what I like to call The Other Parable of Two Sons. When most people think of a parable with two sons they immediately think of the familiar parable of the prodigal son. That is indeed a great parable and perhaps we’ll dive in another day. Today I want to look in stead at the parable of the two sons in Matthew 21.
One of the things that is clear throughout is that we are called to love everyone. Which leads us to today’s scripture. Matthew 5:43-48. Jesus is working His way through the sermon on the mount.** He says:
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,45 so that you may [a]be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and theunrighteous.46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?48 Therefore [b]you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
On its surface this idea does make sense, at least theologically. After all we are called to love everyone. God loves everyone. God loves your enemy. The one who persecutes you was created in God’s image. Jesus died for your enemy. Jesus prayed for and loved His enemies while He was here, even while they were crucifying Him. We’re supposed to follow Jesus.
This is the final of a five part study on the Parable of the Good Samaritan. We started out by looking at the context to the parable and noting that we are not the hero (Samaritan) of the story. We then looked at why it is that we pass by those in need. Next we looked at some of the early Church Father’s take on the parable. Last time we looked at how this parable might impact how we are to “Be Jesus” to others and what it might look like to minister to people as if we are ministering To Jesus.
As if all of that wasn’t enough to face, today I want to talk about what we in the Western Church are probably the worst at. That is letting others “Be Jesus” to us.
The last few posts we’ve been looking at the Parable of the Good Samaritan. In my first post I pointed out that we are in the street, we are not the Samaritan. In the next post I posed the question of why we pass by those in need. Finally in my last post I shared with you how many of the Church Fathers in the early church commented on the parable.
It is that last post that I want to follow up on today. To recap that post: We are in the street and Jesus is the Samaritan who leaves His space to come and rescue us, heal us and pay for us – as well as promised to come back.
Now the question is sort of so what. In other words, yes that’s an incredible thought and may well be right, but how does that impact us other than hearing it. What are we to do with it.
I’ve been sharing a series here on the parable of the Good Samaritan. It’s a well known story that we typically think of as a call to be a good person to others. In the first post I shared that I’m not so sure that is what the parable is actually about. In the second I asked us to think about why we don’t stop – why we pass by someone we should help. Today, I want to look at the whole thing completely differently and most likely in a way you’ve never thought about it before. I certainly had never thought about it this way before in my 30 years of knowing and sharing this story.
Many of the early Church Fathers from the first 300 years or so of Christianity saw this story in a different way. They saw it as having something to say about the story of the gospel and Christ.
In last week’s post I began a study of the parable of the Good Samaritan. Today I want to dive in to another aspect of this story. That is why did the Priest and the Levite pass by?
Now to be sure there is no right answer to this. Jesus doesn’t say and it is for sure not the point of the parable. Not only that but this is a parable not a historical account. It’s not like this actually happened so we couldn’t ask them so to speak. But I think it’s interesting to think about.
For starters they should have stopped. Remember in the story this was a fellow Jew who was robbed, stripped, beaten and left for dead on the side of the road. In fact if what I’m thinking is true this was a fairly prominent Jew. And yet two people who represented the highest order of the Jewish culture of the day, and those seen by others as closet to God, don’t stop. They pass by on the other side of the road.
But the real reason I’m posing the question is far more important. The real question I’m asking is why do we pass by?
I’ve decided to start a weekly look at scripture, or bible study here at the blog. For the next five weeks I’d like to take a look at one of the most recognized parables of Jesus. The parable of the good samaritan.
Jesus tells the parable in Luke 10:25-37. Here is a brief rundown:
A religious lawyer comes to Jesus and asks what must he do to inherit eternal life. Jesus replies by asking the teacher what the scriptures say. He replies that with the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind (in other words make God number one) and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus agrees and says go and do this, and you will have eternal life.
One of the questions that comes up in different ways is as follows: Is being a virtuous man attractive to women?
Before I answer that let’s clear up a few things.
First of all it should be noted that attractiveness itself is not a virtue. Being attractive to women is not a virtue. Being “hot” is not a virtue. There are plenty of non-virtuous men who are attractive to women. We see this all the time. Heck a common complaint is that women are attracted to the “bad boys”. It’s a common complaint because it’s often true.
There are men who don’t treat women well who are attractive to women. There are men who are mean and insensitive who are attractive to women. There are men who live dangerously in one form or another who are attractive to women.
The other day I was happened on a video win which Dave Ramsey was talking with Anthony ONeal about a recent dating experience he had. First a quick background in case you are not familiar with Ramsey and his people. The short version is that they help people get out of and stay out of debt. Anthony works with younger folks and is a young single man. One of the keys to getting and staying out of debt is having a budget . . . that you actually follow. I’ve talked before about as a single person having a “dating” line item in your budget. Suffice it to say that if you are single and want to date, then why not have a budget for that.
At any rate, here’s the story. Anthony goes out with a young woman on a date. They have a good time. At the end of the date they both want there to be a second date. The woman suggested that she would really like to go to a particular restaurant in town. Anthony says he will look into it.