compassion, decision, disciples, follow Him, Gospel, hypocrisy, Jesus Christ, Kingdom of God, mercy, parable, Samaritan, temple, work

The Parable of the Good Mormon, #72

“”But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.”

Luke 10:33-34

As I write this, I’m waiting for my plane in Salt Lake City, Utah. I just passed by the Mormon Temple, and that’s always disturbing to me. I guess as a teacher to the body of Christ, to see this much deception concentrated in a place like this is evil. The LDS church has a staggering 16.5 million scattered worldwide. And it’s growing fast.

Back in 1982, two Mormon security guards ushered me off of the temple grounds. But as I was escorted off their temple mount, Christian believers outside the gate gave me tracts to read, and they were praying that I would find the Lord Jesus. Their ministry is hard, but effective,

It’s strange how things work out sometimes.

The road from Jerusalem to Jericho was treacherous, well-known by the people as a haven for robbers and muggers. Think the south-side of Chicago; it was dangerous, and typically when you did have to make the trip, you traveled in a group for safety.

Samaritans were the unholy and the godless. Jews never dreamed of fellowshipping with them–both regarded each other with contempt and scorn. To the Jew, the Samaritan was apostate, and there was a deep distaste for them. And the worse part of it all, they believed that God agreed.

They did respect each others turf though, at least, to a limited degree. At best, they simply didn’t acknowledge the others existence–at worst, they did the jihad thing, and went to outright war with each other. It’s all very complicated. It almost always is.

We must modernize this parable in order to really understand its implications. Let’s make sure we understand a few things though:

  • The Jews and the Samaritan detested each other. Each declared that they were the true nation of Israel.
  • The priest and the Levite both had religious reasons for avoiding situations like this. They quite easily justified themselves, as their interpretation of the Law forbid them from touching a corpse.
  • The Samaritan was doing the will of God, the religious leaders were not. Plain and simple. Jesus’ parable has ruined our conceptions forever of a religion that costs us nothing, and somehow gives us everything.
  • Jesus schools the Jewish leaders with the responsibility of loving each other–no matter what the other person believes is true.

This is a present day parable. It’s lost none of its zing-and we can’t rationalize away any of its authority. It speaks to us today, as powerfully as when Jesus first spoke it. This particular passage has never lost its punch, and we dare not minimize the message. If we do, typically, it’s for carnal reasons, and we do so, it’s at extreme peril to our very souls.

Who is your neighbor? We needn’t look far for understanding–each parable that Jesus spoke was simple, and it could be understood by a child–and yet it carried the full authority, and weight of heaven. If we minimize it, we risk our discipleship. We’ll suddenly cease to be real and authentic.

Is this a Sunday school flannelgraph, or is it a real truth for real believers?

I easily could go on, and on, ad nauseam–pummeling you with insignificant details, but I won’t. The critical message is one of an active, aggressive love for each one who is made in God’s image–for the Catholic and the Mormon, the black and the white, gay and straight, republican or democrat, the homeless and the mansion-dweller–everyone who the Lord God has created. Everyone. (Even illegal aliens–egads. Not them!)

No exceptions can be made. When we serve others–sacrificially, if we have to–we’re really serving the Lord Jesus. And if a Mormon happens along, and if they do what the Samaritan did, they’re doing the will of God. And that disturbs us, and it should.

Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

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authority, compassion, crowds, disciples, food, hungry, Jesus Christ

Crowd Compassion, #46

“I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.”

Mark 8:2-3, (context, vv. 1-8)

This one differs from the other miracle of feeding found in entry#42, “The Feeding of the Five Thousand,” (Luke 9.)

In that first instance, (see my most very humble entry, #42) the miracle comes as a surprise, more of a reaction to the moment. This second one though, is a tad more ‘contrived’–it’s designed by the Maker to be a lesson for all prospective disciples. It’s not that the first is a complete surprise, rather, it seems anyway, the other is more expected.

He watches over me, and He does keep me. He’s aware of my every need. This must be understood.

I believe everything he does, he does it out of compassion. That’s how His mind operates, that’s what makes him tick, He always acts this way. He is predictable, and you can trust Him, He will never intentionally hurt you. He will lead you through all this crap.

“No matter how low down you are; no matter what your disposition has been; you may be low in your thoughts, words, and actions; you may be selfish; your heart may be overflowing with corruption and wickedness; yet Jesus will have compassion upon you. He will speak comforting words to you; not treat you coldly or spurn you, as perhaps those of earth would, but will speak tender words, and words of love and affection and kindness. Just come at once. He is a faithful friend – a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”

D.L. Moody

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authority, disciples, follow Him, mercy, temple

Show Me the Mercy, Entry #24

“I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, 

‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’

you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

Matthew 12:6-8 (context, vv. 1-8)

Do we honestly want to see mercy? To give it is much harder than making a sacrifice. Mercy often entails forgiving or helping someone, and that’s usually difficult. We do better by making a religious offering, than having to reach out in love and touch someone we really don’t like. To let someone “off-the-hook” grates us.

Mercy is commonly defined “as compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.”

Wow. Isn’t this hard sometimes? We really do excel when we try to “punish” those who hurt us, we are experts at this. We ‘automatically’ lash out at those who we feel defy or somehow cross us. I find that I can get quite defensive very fast. And usually that thing is very trivial.

Jesus said to him,

“I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.”

(Matthew 18:22.)

On our own, it seems we just can’t be as compassionate or forgiving like Jesus. We vastly prefer religious duties over forgiveness. Jesus told Peter to forgive 70 x 7, whenever a ‘sinning’ brother asks for leniency, we have to give it. If we forgive, then we’ll be forgiven!

But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Matthew 6:15

He wants to see our mercy. That outweighs any spiritual sacrifice we might make. One of Jesus’ own beatitudes hits the nail on the head,

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Matthew 5:7

We can’t evade this. We may try but He will keep bringing us back to it until we can pass this test, and even then we can anticipate “surprise” tests. That typically kicks us out of a false sense of maturity, and our ‘spiritual’ arrival.

We think we’ve got mercy down pat, and yet He wants to take it deeper still. Mercy for us will always be a spiritual action to a physical situation. And He brings these situations to us, to see what we do, and to reveal what is truly in our hearts at the time.

Sacrifice was a critical definition in the Pharisee’s dictionary, and Jesus more or less destroyed that entire religious concept. Sacrificing without real love, can never be part of a believer’s vocabulary. Jesus wants every disciple to show an outrageous mercy to everyone they meet.

The most miserable prison in the world is the prison we make for ourselves when we refuse to show mercy.

-Warren Wiersbe

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anointing, broken people, faith, healing, miracles, water

Leaving the Mat Behind, Entry #23

“When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, 

“Do you want to be healed?”

John 5:6 (context, vv. 2-9)

He’d been sick for 38 very long years. On this day he was laying like usual in his spot by the pool of Bethesda. He doesn’t realize it, but he was about to encounter Jesus. His life, as he knows it, is about to be turned upside down.

The question Jesus asks is pointed, and it savagely confronts him–“Do you really want to be healed?” Sometimes the sick, the injured, the handicapped become so aware of their issues that they can’t see any life beyond them. Perhaps Jesus wanted to jolt this man with this very odd question; of course he wants to be healed– doesn’t he?

Jesus clearly knew what was happening.

The Lord knew that this man must make a decision, and healing would only come if he could leave his mat behind. Before we get too hard on him though, we should consider that 38 years is a long, long time to be sick. One thing he had learned over time was that having any kind of hope was a very dangerous thing. In these many years he had worn out lots of mats.

Apparently, an angel would come and stir the waters; the first one who somehow jumped in would be healed. Over time the pool became the gathering place where there laid “a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed” (v. 3.) Someone once said that ‘misery loves company.’ The odds for healing however, were definitely not in their favor.

I’m somewhat curious, not so much with the ‘angel/pool’ thing, but with the Lord passing by a crowd of sick people. Jesus didn’t stop and just wholesale heal them, but instead He makes a bee-line to where this man lay. Why did He do this? Perhaps an encounter with Jesus was far too radical for the crowds; perhaps they weren’t ready. IDK.

The question Jesus asks does seem strange– “Of course he wants to be healed.” And yet the Lord (and this man) had to know for sure. It really isn’t a question of Jesus’ healing power–it is however, an issue with one’s desire to be made whole, and then to leave his mat behind.

A disclaimer though.

People will often talk about having enough faith to be healed, and that’s well and good, but what about having faith to continue to be sick; day after endless day? Will we continue to believe in Him no matter what happens to us? I do wonder about this sometimes.

“How sweet the name of Jesus sounds, In a believer’s ear! It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds, And drives away his fear.”

-John Newton

 

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