Day 17 - Radical Love Leads People to Jesus

Day 17 - Radical Love Leads People to Jesus

Written By: Katelyn Boyd

The Parable of the Good Samaritan
25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”27 The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”[a]28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. 31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant[b] walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. 33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins,[c] telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’ 36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. 37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”  (Luke 10:25-37)

Have you ever found yourself saying “I don’t have time for this?” Maybe you’ve muttered it under your breath in the extra long Starbucks line, or as you sat in bumper to bumper traffic. So often, in the name of productivity and sticking to the schedule we can lose focus on the most important things–loving God and loving people, radically. Radical love is the model Jesus calls us to in Luke 10 with the story of the Good Samaritan.

Jesus begins this familiar parable in response to a conversation he has with an expert of the Jewish law; this man addresses Jesus in verse 25, looking to test him by asking what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus responds to the question as he often does, with another question; he asks the man what he believes the Law says on the matter. It is clear the expert of the law knows enough to know that the law can be summed up in two commands of utmost importance–love God, and love others–but we also see the flaw in his question and in his heart, when he seeks to justify himself by asking Jesus to define exactly who he is to consider his neighbor (v. 27-29). The question isn’t coming from a sincere heart of humility; he is asking out selfish pride. Don’t we do this at times, too? We seek to justify our lack of active, radical love by assuming that loving the people closest to us (family, close friends, people who look like us, vote like us, live like us), when it’s convenient for us, is enough to represent Jesus well. However, the kind of radical love of others that Jesus calls His followers to is compassionate, costly and a conduit of faith for those who receive it.

Jesus tells the story of a man traveling the notoriously dangerous road between Jerusalem and Jericho, who is robbed, beaten, and left for dead. Then, we see three other men who travel the same road–a priest, a Levite, or temple assistant, and a Samaritan. The priest and Levite were both respected political and spiritual leaders in the Jewish community. They do not stop to check on the injured man, but pass by on the other side of the road. We don’t know everything going on in their minds, but we know that pride and selfishness both contribute to their unwillingness to help; they are unwilling to lower themselves in order to love and serve this man who is in desperate need of their help. I can’t help but think about all of the excuses the priest and Levite could have had running through their minds in this scenario: “This road is too dangerous for me to help,” “I’ve got to get home to see my family,” “I don’t want to be late to perform my duties in the temple,” “I’m only one person, how could I really help?” “I can’t risk getting blood on my priestly garments and becoming unclean.” We might not go as far as to completely ignore people around us in such dire circumstances, but we can be so focused on our schedules that we can’t bother to stop and serve when we see a need; we can be unwilling to do what we deem to be demeaning tasks because we think they are beneath us, or that someone else should do them. Excuses, no matter how logical or valid they seem, will never lead us to emulate Jesus and to do what He has called us to do.

The traveler who sees the man and has compassion for him, is a despised Samaritan; someone the Jews would have seen as a half-breed becoming the hero in Jesus’ story would have been deeply offensive to His audience. But, the Samaritan is moved by compassion into action when he encounters the injured man. He is deeply moved with the same kind of compassion Jesus felt for the helpless people without a shepherd in Matthew 9, as we read in our devotion yesterday. The Samaritan could have made excuses like the priest and Levite. He had travel plans and a destination he was seeking to reach, but when he encountered a need, he was willing for his schedule to be interrupted so that he could meet that need. This is radical love!

The Samaritan had compassion and was moved to action that cost him dearly! He didn’t just call out to the injured man that he would pray for him as he kept walking by–he stopped and soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine (both of which were expensive and precious) and took him to an inn and took care of him. (v. 34) The Samaritan is willing to radically love a stranger that God quite literally put in his path, even though it cost his resources, time and money.
This is the radical love Jesus calls us to–to be moved by compassion, willing for our days and schedules to be interrupted in order for us to love and serve those the Lord places in our paths on a daily basis. When we do this, we become conduits of faith for those around us who desperately need Jesus! People who are far from God are much less likely to come to church or to faith in Jesus because you pester them or argue theology or threaten them with eternity in hell; they are much MORE likely to come to Jesus on the arm of a trusted friend who has consistently and sacrificially loved them well. Radical love leads people to Jesus. When we radically love the people around us, we emulate the heart of our Savior, who though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to, instead, he gave up his divine privileges]; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, 8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. (Philippians 2: 6-8) If anyone had a right to claim superior status and refuse to get dirty meeting the needs of others, it was Jesus; but instead, he stepped down out of Glory, into the dust with the people who desperately needed Him, making Himself nothing in order to reconcile us to our Father through His radical love for us!

When was the last time you allowed–or asked–God to interrupt your schedule with people He wanted you to love and serve sacrificially? Spend some time today considering who in your life you believe God is leading you to go above and beyond to love and serve–maybe it is the single-mom you know from the school PTO, the waiter at your favorite restaurant, or your cashier at the grocery store. Then make a list of several creative ways you can show them radical love this week.

Lord, thank you for loving me so radically, for giving your life so that I might live. Help me to be willing to follow your example and to radically love the people around me. Open my eyes to see those you have put in my path who are hurting and in desperate need of your love and grace. Help me to be a conduit of faith for them; love them through me in such a way that draws them to Jesus. Give me a heart of humility that considers others more important than myself and that enables me to do even the most undesirable things with joy so that people will come to know you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.