neighbor-message

 

2 Corinthians 6. 17

Luke 4. 16-19

Luke 10. 25-37

 

Paul was writing to the church at Corinth explaining to them the essence of the New Covenant as opposed to the Hebraic old covenant, as stated by Paul, not in relation to the eight Covenants of Jehovah to the nation Israel, but as a common understanding of the requirements of the Law of Moses.  The old covenant that he refers to is self effort in the attempt to keep the Law as is required to merit favor with God.  This law of Moses, Paul tells us in Galations 3.24, was sent to Israel as a tutor to lead them to Christ, so they could be justified by faith, not by works.  No matter how hard they tried no one could keep all the points of the Law, though the Pharisees came close in their self discipline, they failed in the larger areas, like pride, compassion, and love.

So as Jesus started His ministry in Luke 4.16, He entered the synagogue and stood up to read, from Isaiah 61.1 ” The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives. Is.35.5 And recovery of sight to the blind. Is. 58.6 To set free those who are oppressed. Is. 61.2 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” It’s important to note that He left out the last half of this last verse which says, ” And the day of vengeance of our God.”  In Israels way of thinking, one can’t have the full blessing of God with out the destruction of their enemies.  This story in Luke 4 reveals this, as this synagogue tried to push Jesus off a cliff in verse 29.

Now in Luke 10.25-37 Jesus is faced with a lawyer trying to put Him to the test, saying ” Teacher what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus says “what do you think?”  He answers, ” You shall love the lord your God with heart, soul, strength, and mind, and your neighbor as your self.”  Jesus, ” you answered well.” The man, “Well then who is my neighbor?”

To the Jewish mind, a neighbor can only be a fellow Jew.  Gentiles are not in the equation at all.  So Jesus answered with the story of the Good Samaritan:  A man is on his way to Jericho and is beaten and stripped of his clothes and money, and left unconscience. A priest traveling the road sees the man but cannot help because of ceremonial restrictions of cleanliness.  A Levite following also has similar restrictions, along with political reasons too, so he passes by with out helping.  Next comes a Samaritan, who stops and helps the man. ( Samaritans are hated by the Jews because they were half breeds of the Jews, they worshipped in the wrong locations, worshipped idols, and rewrote the Torah to accommodate their positions).  This Samaritan then dresses his wounds, takes him to an Inn, and pays for his well being.  Jesus then asks the lawyer who was the neighbor to this man?  The Lawyer says,”the one who showed mercy toward him.”

Jesus quickly revealed to this man that the true relationship that God wants is for us to “Love God with all your heart, soul, strength, mind, and your neighbor, and your enemy.”  This new requirement of the Law, revealed by Jesus,  just put the demands of the Law completely out of reach for even the most disciplined man, and proved what Paul said it would do.  The Law was a tutor to show us we need a Savior, and when we cry out to that Savior, Jesus Christ, for help, for salvation, we then are no longer the same, but are born again, and made new creations in Christ.

2 Corinthians 5.17 ” Therefore if any man is in Christ he is a new creature; behold old things have passed away; behold new things have come.”   God brought us into harmony with Himself at the cross of Jesus, we who were in discord, are now in harmony with Him, the Creator of the universe.

Karl