Can you think of a time when you judged someone’s actions based on a long-standing moral code rather than what might be actually “right” for that person?

Sometimes, we give the Pharisees and religious leaders of Jesus’ time a bad wrap. They weren’t “all bad.” Actually, it’s pretty complicated.

While yes, they were manipulative and even vindictive towards Jesus’, it was driven out of their allegiance to God and their faith.

So, the parable of the Good Samaritan challenged them regarding that. It also challenges us because the same temptations are right before us today!

Jesus had a bottom line –

If you see someone hurting, help them.

If this were to translate to our everyday lives . . .

Sometimes, loving all people and going out of our way to help others is messy and complicated.

Do it anyway.

Sometimes, loving all people and going out of our way to help others will be a huge inconvenience.

It will cause us to miss out on what we already had planned.

Do it anyway.

Regardless if it breaks “the rules” . . .

Do it anyway.

A game-shaping experience in ministry (many of you have heard me tell this story) was when, at my previous appointment, we denied “membership” AND baptism to a family.

The gentleman was living with his life partner and had no intention of getting married.

It was complicated. Her former spouse (and children’s father) was in prison. Because of health insurance, etc., if she got married, she’d lose benefits for one of their children, who’d had severe health complications since birth. The guy wanting to profess his faith and join the church did not have adequate insurance. So, ultimately, the family would have suffered financially.

The gentleman explained all this to us, but we refused to budge.

No marriage, no baptism, and no membership.

In my opinion, you could have dressed us up in nice, flowing biblical robes, put on some Birkenstocks, and let us walk from Jerusalem to Jericho.

We were the people in the Good Samaritan story. (And we were not the Good Samaritan, ha!)

Jesus always erred in loving people even if it challenged the structure of their religious norms.

Perhaps he would have summed it up this way . . .

“There is no if or but . . . Love them anyway.”

Take a few moments and read the story of the Good Samaritan below.

This is from The Message interpretation. Luke 10:25-37:

Defining “Neighbor”

25 Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?”

26 He answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?”

27 He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.”

28 “Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.”

29 Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?”

30-32 Jesus answered by telling a story. “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.

33-35 “A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’

36 “What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?”

37 “The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded.

Jesus said, “Go and do the same.”

Grace and Peace,