Two Parables from Luke
LUKE TATTERSALL offers some insights on 2 parables – Good Samaritan and the Rich Fool.
Source: Perspective Online © Perspective 2006
I thought I’d offer you some insights on 2 parables – Good Samaritan and the Rich Fool. We’ve been preaching through the Travel Narrative in Luke.
It’s been great to slow down and take in the view as we go through this wonderful Gospel. Simon, Costa & I have been sharing the preaching load through the series. I got to preach on the rather familiar passage of the Good Samaritan and Rich Fool. It is fascinating to look at them in their context and see what comes before and what follows.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan or How to Mess with the Head of a Legalist – Luke 10:25-41
Not what I thought it was saying …
- This is one of those parables where we tend to miss the point Jesus is making … because we think we already know what he is saying.
- The word Samaritan conjures up the idea of a good person. OED says a Samaritan is a “genuinely charitable person”.
- But when the people Jesus spoke to heard the word “Samaritan” they were not thinking “genuinely charitable person”. They would have been thinking “Stinking Samaritan”.
- The parable is set well & truly in Israel (10:30).
- You get some sense of the hostility between the Jews and Samaritans in 9:51-56. The Samaritans don’t have time for those heading to Jerusalem. And the disciples would be happy to see the Samaritans wiped out.
- NB Jesus is heading to Jerusalem. He is showing his disciples what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
Who is doing the Asking?
- Must make sure you note the opening words of this section (10:25). Two crucial things:
1.He is in expert in the law – he would have been revered and respected in the society of his day.
2.He is looking to test Jesus with this question. It is not asked with a sincere motive, but out of a desire to test Jesus.
- I am sure you have all been in those situations where someone has asked a question when they already think they know the answer. They are just asking to be smart.
- And the question: What must I do to inherit eternal life? (10:25b)
- Jesus knew what the man was doing so he played the man at his own game. He throws the question back on him: What is written in the law? How do you read it?
- He gives what Jesus considers to be a good answer (10:27). Quotes 2 OT verses (Deut 6:5, Lev 19:18) … but more than that, Jesus had already said that these were the greatest commandments (Mark 12:29-31) and that the Loaw & Prophets hang on those verses (Matt 22:37-40)
- A Rabbi around the time of Jesus. Asked by a Gentile if he could recite the entire law while standing on one foot, the Rabbi said he could: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; &, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” He put his foot back down on the ground & said: “The rest is just commentary.”
- That is what God requires from us. We have more light than the Israel. We see Jesus. We have a great idea of God’s love for us and how we are to love him and our neighbour.
The Legalist Mindset
- Now that would have been a fitting place for the conversation to end … but it doesn’t. The legalist has to spoil it by asking one more question.
- But look what is says (10:29): “But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus…”
- He wasn’t sincere with his first question and now he is wanting to justify himself so he asks (10:29): “…And who is my neighbour?”
- Now I have to say I think that is the most STUPID QUESTION you could ASK in the CIRCUMSTANCES. Here he is STANDING BEFORE JESUS.
- They have AGREED that what GOD REQUIRES is that we LOVE HIM with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and love your neighbour as yourself.
- Now if you had the chance to ask Jesus 1 question to clarify what that means, then do you think THAT would be it … “WHO IS MY NEIGHBOUR?”
- Do you see what the legal expert is doing? He is wanting to justify himself. He wants Jesus to offer him a simple, neat definition of who his neighbour is.
- He doesn’t ask: But how can I love God with my whole heart, soul, mind & strength.
- NO! He says: “Who is my neighbour?”
- That is legalist thinking. It is about doing the minimum. It is about having a box to tick.
- I gave some examples of how Israel had degenerated to legalism (The Sabbath … when does it start?)
- The legal expert is asking: “Technically speaking, who is my neighbour?”
- So Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan.
- A man beaten and left for dead while walking between Jerusalem & Jericho. Priest & Levite walk past … probably with good legal reason for not stopping … could be dead, could be a gentile.
- And then Jesus says this (10:33): “ But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was;
- Now you have got to feel the weight of this. Jesus listeners did not thinking “genuinely charitable person”.
- Try this: A British Soldier is injured on the ground in a street in Belfast and along comes an IRA member… A black man in the south of the USA is involved in a car crash and driving past is a member of the KKK…
- Do you see what Jesus is saying?
- And what does the Samaritan do? He helps way above and beyond the call of duty. He took pity on the man.
- I love the way this finishes (10:36): “Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
- Boy is our legal expert feeling stupid. And did you notice the answer (10:37)? He can’t even bring himself to say the word Samaritan.
Mary & Martha
- Story of Mary & Martha follows. Seems totally unrelated … but I think there is a strong connection.
- Now this is a story that you might be able to relate to. We went to a friends place for dinner … but the couple spent most of the evening in the kitchen. Great meal … but we hardly got to speak to them. Probably would have been nicer to get takeaway and talk more.
- Similar situation with Mary & Martha (10:39-40).
- Mary listens to Jesus. Marth is distracted by the housework. Martha is the one with the confused priorities.
- She thinks being in the kitchen is better than listening to Jesus. In fact she is angry Mary is in listening to Jesus.
- Martha meant well … but she chose the wrong thing (10:41-42). Jesus is sitting in your lounge room. You don’t go and spend time in the Kitchen.
- Jesus says to Martha: “One thing is needed”. I think what he may have had in mind was Deuteronomy 8:3b: “… man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”
Lessons from the Legal Expert & Martha
- What do these 2 incidents have in common? Both people are corrected in their understanding of what it means to be a disciple.
- These are lessons we need to learn.
1. Don’t Substitute Rules for Relationship
- It is stupid to think that what God wants from us is the minimum requirement of law. God has called us to know him personally. If you think that the Christian life is about having a list of rules to obey then you’ve misunderstood what Jesus came to bring.
2. Don’t Substitute Doing Things for Know God
- God has called us to know him personally. Your highest priority in your Christian life is to know God.
- You see people who are doing lots of things as Christians … but they have little or no time for their relationship with God. That is as bad as our legal expert.
The Parable of the Rich Fool Or Affluenza: When Too Much is Not Enough – Luke 12:13-48
- Australia is one of the top 10 wealthiest countries in the world.
- We are 3rd in the world when it comes to disposable income.
- You can see the affluence everywhere.
- Houses are a good indication. 1960 – average household 3.5 people. 2005 – average household is 2.5. But in that same time the average size of our houses has doubled.
- Queensland academic wrote a book: AFFLUENZA: THE NEW ILLNESS IN AUSTRALIA?
- In a survey people were asked to respond to the following statement: ‘You cannot afford to buy everything you really need.’ 62% of the people surveyed thought that was true.
- Here we are living in one of the 10 wealthiest countries in the world and yet more than 60% of the population still don’t think they have enough to buy what they really need.
- What stands at the heart of this chapter is MONEY. Jesus wants his disciples to think about this and be careful.
The Man God Considers a Fool
- Question from the crowd (12:13)
- Rabbis back in that day would often be called in to help resolve family disputes … especially legal ones and financial ones.
- Jesus declines the opportunity to help but takes the opportunity to warn about money.
- KEY VERSE: Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (12:15)
- It is a story about a farmer who has had a good year. Runs out of room to store the crop. Thinks the logical thing: build bigger barns. This guy would have been the cover story on the Farmers Federation Magazine.
- He thinks that he is set for life.
- But then comes the TWIST (12:20):
- “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
- God says he is a fool. That is not how the neighbours saw him. They thought he was a success … brilliant.
- But God says he is a fool. WHY?
- Well I think it boils down to 2 things:
1. A Fool thinks Life is about Possessions
- Look what he says following the good crop (12:18-19). He thought that LIFE was about ACCUMULATING GOODS.
- My 9 year old thinks life is about accumulating things. “Dad, we should sooooo get this”
- But adults tend to do the same.
- Do you ever judge or assess anyone by the possessions they have? Watch. Cloths. Car. House.
- We live in a society that thinks life is about possessions.
- Jesus is right (12:15)” … “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
- Remember that when you are:
- Flipping through the junk mail
- Walking through Westfield
- Watching the ads on TV
- Life is not about possessions. It is about being Rich Toward God (12:21)
2. A Fool thinks that life is NOW
- Now can I say this is something that we need to sit up and take notice of. Because I think that we are living in a country of fools and we often act like fools ourselves.
- You can’t turn on TV at the moment without seeing ads for Superannuation.You are encouraged to plan for your future … but only for the short period after your retirement.
- That is EXACTLY what the farmer did … and God says he is a fool.
- Australians don’t like to talk about death. Of the 130+ funerals I did in Byron Bay only one person asked me where their dead relative was.
- It is the fool who doesn’t think about life after this life.
How should we view Possessions?
- Now I don’t know about you … but I think that parable leaves us with 2 questions:
- How should I view my possessions?
- How should I view the future?
- Those are exactly the questions Jesus answers in the passage that follows:
1. Life is more than…
- Life is more than food & clothes (12:22-23).
- That is not the impression you get when you walk into Westfield at Parramatta. In fact you would get the opposite impression. It is full of food & clothing stores. The only other stores are jewellery (to go with your clothing) and appliances (to prepare and cook your food).
- Jesus points to the birds & flowers. God feeds the birds. And the plants look great without spending lots of money.
- We need to make sure our lives are lived in dependence upon God.
2. Seek First …
- What Jesus is saying is summed up in verse 31: “But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”
- It is really a question of priorities … valuing what matters most.
- If you make food and clothing your priority then you will seek them first. And guess what? 62% of you will never have enough.
- You are going to be among the 62% who think that you CAN’T AFFORD to BUY THE THINGS YOU REALLY NEED.
- Your security and significance are found in knowing God through Jesus … being part of that kingdom. That is what will make you truly rich. And that should be your priority.
How should we view the Future?
- Summed up in verse 40: “You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
Where is Your Treasure?
- We need to value what is most important in life: Knowing God and being part of his kingdom.
- Is that reflected in your life?
- I am not sure if you have even done this exercise. You mark out a straight line to walk along … but you try to walk along it while staring directly at an object off to the side. I suppose you can guess what happens. You gradually drift off course. You are drawn toward the object you are looking at.
- That’s the principle Jesus has in mind in verse 34: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”.
- We need to fix our sights on the most important things. Not the new lounge, car or the better kitchen or bigger house.
- What is most important is knowing God through Jesus.
- If we value that above all else then the issues about cars and kitchens will all sort themselves out.
[Jesus] said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (12:15)
- I don’t think there will be a point in our lives when we don’t have to heed this advice from Jesus.
- I don’t think that any of us are immune to think that our life is about possessions.
- But we need to make sure we are not fools.
- We need to remember that life is about being rich toward God.
- And we need to remember that beyond this life there is an eternity and a treasure in store for us.