Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Missional Jesus 44

The Parable of the Good Samaritan is deeply beloved by Christians. I don’t know why for it is as challenging a teaching as anything Jesus teaches. In essence, I think it is this:
The scribe wants to know the limits of his love and Jesus expands the limits of love to anyone we happen to bump into, even if it cuts into the grain of our religious fabric.
1. Missional Jesus’ story subverts cliques and boundary marker love. We cannot reduce love to those we like.
2. Missional Jesus knew that the priest (and probably Levite) could justify their behavior by recourse to the Torah: the priest was not to defile himself with corpse impurity unless it was nearest of kin.
3. Missional Jesus knows the law’s limits but not love’s limits. The law, unless it flows from the law to love your neighbor as yourself (Jesus Creed), is misunderstood. Once it is, the law sometimes gives way to loving behaviors outside those boundaries.
4. Missional followers of Jesus are noted by such loving behaviors.
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ ; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

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Ted Gossard

posted August 23, 2007 at 4:49 am

Love acting here is what strikes me, at the moment. How often I’ve failed to follow through on a thought of a loving act I could do. But that needs to become a part of who we are and what we do, in Jesus.

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posted August 23, 2007 at 5:05 am

The mashal (parable) you’ve dealt with with insight but there something else here that should we should pnder: Jesus and the Pharisee agree on how one gains eternal life(we would say “is saved” which should ne understood as gaining life in the age to come). One is “saved” by works, the typical Jewish view.Where they diverge ultimately concerns how they image YHWH. The Pharisees and their socioreligious program was about holiness as separation which manifests itself in terms of social boundaries. It’s not about being “liberal” or “open to others” but about envisioning what would satisfy YHWH so that they would be “saved” when YHWH came to judge the nation and vindicate the faithful of Israel. YHWH is seen almost exclusively through the lens of covenant to the faithful Israelites. Jesus,on the other hand,in his Kingdom vocation, also views and manifests YHWH as the creator (Elohim)of all nations and the covenant purposes of Israel are seen through this understanding.
This may seem to be a stretch but in Biblical religion,there is NO theology (doctrine of God)or soteriology (doctrine of salvation) separated from ethics (social and personal):our relationship with God is inextricably bound to our human relationships in community as YHWH’s image bearers.Thus,how can one say that they love YHWH and hate their sister or brother or show no concern for them in their need or distress. The fact that we can do theology-christology-pneumatology and then do something else called ethics is a sign Christian discourse and reflection about God and salvation has lost its biblical moorings and has “gone off the rails,” as the British would say.

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Jim Womack

posted August 23, 2007 at 10:11 am

the interesting thing for me about the jericho road story are the characters. 2 religious guys, the samaritan, the bandits, and the inn keeper. it is interesting that jesus chose to make the samaritan the good guy. considering his audience i bet this was hard to swallow for them. i see us all being able to identify with someone in this story. we are either the bandits (thieves), self righteous religious types, the samaritan, or the in keeper. if we were honest, most would identify with the bandits or the religious guys. i know i can.
great story.

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posted August 23, 2007 at 1:29 pm

And as the prophets had done centuries before, Jesus was acting as prosecuting attorney–calling the covenant-breakers to account.
The priest and levite had chosen to love God with their lips but their hearts were far away…. if they loved God and neighbor, they would be willing to sacrifice their ability to “serve” by becoming unclean in order to come to the aid of one so needy.
But they were unwilling to set aside their pride….they had forgotten that their privilege was not for themselves, but to serve God’s purpose of blessing the nations. It was a lesson Israel forgot frequently (constantly?)–and one that the church forgets as well.
I think this is such a beloved parable because we see ourselves often as the poor man who was set upon by robbers (too many secular/sacred varieties to list 8) )and kicked to the curb by the religious leaders who cannot be bothered with our inconvenient circumstances.
And we are comforted to know that there may just be some kind soul who takes pity on our plight…and does what Jesus would do–offering justice and mercy in humility.
That these “Good Samaritans” frequently are not followers of Jesus heaps burning coals on the heads of the religious leaders…

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Doug Allen

posted August 23, 2007 at 7:40 pm

Thank you for Missional Jesus 44. I love the Parable of the Good Samaritan for it is the definitive statement of the Jesus Creed. When you say, “I don’t know why because it is as challenging a teaching as anything Jesus teaches,” you mean challenging to follow, I think, and indeed it is! I start each day anew with the Jesus Creed, acknowledging my failures the day before. No topic is discussed more often at our church discussion group which follows every Sunday service.
Love of family and love of “tribe” is so easy, comparatively. To love members of other “tribes” is very, very difficult especially, as so often is the case, when there are age-old territorial, economic, and religious or ideological rivalries which often include abusive and even murderous conduct. As I look around the world, I am deeply saddened because I see mostly revenge, often in the name of God, occurring and seldom even an attempt to follow the Jesus Creed. I think this is Jesus’ most important and least followed teaching.
Doug Allen

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posted August 24, 2007 at 12:25 am

I love the story of the Good Samaritan. The more I read it, the more I see Jesus as the Good Samaritan. The Samaritan had compassion on the man on the side of the road. He bandaged the man, put him on his own donkey and took care of him. He paid a price for the man so he can heal and meet the man’s needs so he could survive.
In the same respect, Jesus has compassion on us. He saw us when we were on the side of the road in need of a physician to bandage us and help us back on our feet. He did not regard us outcasts. He did not pass us on the side of the road and leave us for dead, though he could have. He had compassion on us. Jesus could have just saved us; that would have been enough.
The response of the religious leader surprises me the most. When asked who was a neighbor to the man who was in need, he could not say “the Samaritan.” His response is, “The one who had mercy on him.” Is not that an interesting statement? Jesus says we are to go and do likewise.

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tim atwater

posted August 24, 2007 at 6:50 am

The corpse purity law doesn’t apply of course since the man is still alive.
And Jesus preaches a tougher line to someone testing him than to a humble supplicant —
(like Wesley’s Almost Christian genre of sermons preached to the oxford elites, different in tone and substance than the field preaching sermons)
This is about praxis — and i’m thinking also now of Men With Guns film by John Sayles…

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Scot McKnight

posted August 24, 2007 at 6:52 am

If they thought he was dead, the tone of the language in the story, the laws would apply — and that best explains why they don’t do anything to help him.

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