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The Good Samaritan

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
March 6, 2024 3:00 am

The Good Samaritan

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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March 6, 2024 3:00 am

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John MacArthur

So, being religious, being Jewish, being a part of the whole system, being as tightly connected to the religious system as you can get, being a priest and a Levite isn't going to get you in the Kingdom of God. And when you look at the character of these men, they don't pass the test, the test is to love your neighbor as yourself.

They went the other direction, wanted nothing to do with it. This is the attitude we see in human life, human nature today, even with ourselves, I don't want to get...what?...involved. Welcome, to Grace To You, with John MacArthur. I'm your host, Phil Johnson. The Greek philosopher Euripides got it right when he said, " one can confidently say he will still be living tomorrow." And so, with that in mind, think about this.

If today were your last day on earth, where would you be tomorrow? What does it take to get to heaven, and what did Jesus himself say about how to have eternal life? Consider those questions as John MacArthur continues his study titled, What Must I Do to Be Saved? But before we get to today's lesson, from time to time, we mentioned that when you support Grace To You, you are helping bring the power and encouragement of biblical truth to people in all sorts of circumstances.

And frequently, those circumstances are very difficult. Along those lines, John, you have a letter in front of you that I think you should let our listeners hear. Yeah, it is a letter worth sharing, and it's a little bit long, but you'll be glad you heard every word of it. The letter starts, I'm a mom and full-time caregiver to my adult quadriplegic daughter who is nonverbal, blind, has a feeding tube, and has a cognitive development of a six-month-old. She is incredibly limited from head to toe and relies completely on my husband and me for everything.

My daughter's biological father left us many years ago. God mercifully and graciously gave me my Christ-loving husband, David. My daughter loves David.

In fact, David is the only word she can say. I will admit, it can get very wearisome and discouraging trying to care for my daughter. Watching her suffer, advocating for her to get her the medical treatment she requires, and taking care of her physical needs are all daily battles and beyond difficult. David encouraged me to listen to the Grace To You broadcast, as he does every morning on his commute. So I have recently put on Grace To You each morning as I am getting my daughter ready.

Her morning routine to simply get her out of bed is both long and taxing. Listening to Grace To You and allowing my spirit to be fed from God's Word has given me renewed hope and energy to do my earthly ministry, not only to do it well, but to do it joyfully. I have heard You say that the Holy Spirit feels our distresses as we do. What an awesome and comforting truth. Thank you so much for boldly preaching the Word of God.

Just passing through, and she signs her name, Candice. Well may the Lord continue to bless you, Candice, and He will reward you for that faithfulness. This is a reminder that God's Word never returns void. Lives are changed, perspectives are refocused, spiritual strength is poured out when God's people encounter the life-giving truth of Scripture. And as you support Grace To You, especially through your prayers, your efforts will multiply as people learn, grow, and influence others in the same direction. So thanks for your part in unleashing God's truth one verse at a time.

Yes, friend, thank you for your help in encouraging people like Candice with the truth of God's Word. And now with encouragement from the parable of the Good Samaritan, here is John MacArthur. Let's open our Bibles to Luke chapter 10, and we're going to find a man on a familiar journey and learn some profound truth from our blessed Lord, Luke chapter 10. We come to the section from verse 30 through 37, Luke 10, 30 through 37, and this is the story of the Good Samaritan. Before us then is one of the most well-known parables, one of the most well-known illustrations Jesus ever told. Jesus was the master of all storytellers.

He could spin a tale, spin a story, a parable with meaning and significance that made it not only memorable, but profound. This particular tale, this dramatic tale of the Good Samaritan is so well-known that it has actually become an idiom for unusual sacrificial kindness. We call people Good Samaritans who find people in need and help them in unusual ways.

To call someone a Good Samaritan is to grant to them a noble compliment. And so we are very familiar with the story. Christians are all familiar with it and many non-Christians are familiar with it. And sometimes our familiarity may cause us to think we know what the story really is about and what it was intended to convey when in fact we don't. And I think...I think we may have missed the point of this story. Oh we all know the story, but it's the point of the story that is the reason the story existed, the reason Jesus told it. It is a story for most people about helping someone in need.

That's not really the point. This is really a story about how one inherits eternal life because that is the question that initiated the entire conversation to which this story is the conclusion. Go back with me to verse 25. Jesus is teaching in the middle of His teaching, a certain lawyer, a scribe, an expert in the Law of Moses and the Jewish Law stood up and put him to the test saying, "'Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?'"

This is the greatest question ever asked or answered. And it was on the minds and the hearts of the Jews all the time. The answer Jesus gave is in verse 26 and it's a question. He said to him, "'What is written in the Law? How does it read to you or how do you recite it? What does the Law say? What does God require?

You recite it twice a day.'" And Jesus is referring to the recitation that the Jews made two times a day, very familiar to all of them, which was essentially a recitation of the summation of the whole Law. You can take all the Law of God and divide it into two categories, it either relates to man and God, or man and man. All of God's Law regulates the relationship between man and God, or man and man.

It's all summed up in those two categories. You can squeeze it down and a summation of all of the Law of God given in the Scriptures is contained in the Ten Commandments. First half has to do with our relation to God, the second half has to do with our relationship to man. Or you can squeeze it down even tighter into two commandments, the first one, loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, the second, loving your neighbor as yourself. And if you do that, you don't need any rules.

Greek love precludes any rules. Well this lawyer knew that, so he answered Jesus' question by saying what they knew to be the summation of the Law, they knew to be God's requirement because they recited it twice every day, he answered and said, 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 and your neighbor as yourself, taken out of Deuteronomy 6, 4 and 5 in Leviticus 19, 18. And so he knew the Law. The verb here, love, is in the present tense, you are to constantly continually in an uninterrupted way, love God like this and your neighbor as yourself, without ever a breach, without ever a violation. Verse 28, Jesus said to him, you've answered correctly, that is the summation of the Law. And then he quotes Leviticus 18, 5, do this and you will live. Live meaning eternal life. Do this and you will have eternal life. You want eternal life? You know the rule, love God perfectly, love your neighbor as yourself, do that and you'll have eternal life.

Now at this point, the lawyer should have been honest. He should have said, look, I can't love God like that. I can't love God all the time perfectly with all my faculties and I can't love every person around me with a perfect love the same way I love myself. I can't do that. I haven't done that. I'm not capable of that. I won't do that in the future. I admit my inability.

I live in constant violation of this standard. I cannot be perfect as the Father in heaven is perfect. I cannot be holy as He is holy. I am therefore sinful. I am headed for punishment.

I will miss the Kingdom unless I receive mercy and forgiveness. He should have cried out for the mercy and forgiveness like the publican did in Luke 18, being his breast, God be merciful to me, a sinner. He should have been ashamed.

He should have been indicted. He should have felt deep conviction. He should have been penitent, broken, contrite, confessed his sin, cried out for mercy. But rather he drowned out the fire of his conscience. He drowned out the fire of conviction with the water of self-righteous pride. He doused what was going on in his conscience with his own self-righteousness and it says in verse 29, but wishing to justify himself. That is a sad, sad purpose. He wanted to convince people that he was righteous, though he knew he wasn't.

He wanted to maintain the front, the facade. And so he said to Jesus, and who is my neighbor? He jumped over the loving God part. I'm okay with God, he was saying, in effect. I'm okay with God. There's nothing there I need to deal with.

And I'm okay with my neighbor unless cynically you have another definition of neighbor. Jesus at that point could have just dismissed him. He could have said, well I can see that you are shut out from the Kingdom of God and turned back to his teaching. He could have left him standing there in his self-righteous pride. He could have said to himself, could our Lord...his heart is so hard, his pride so resolute, I'm not going to cast any pearls before this swine. But we always remember, don't we, the compassion of Jesus.

And even though this lawyer has managed to rebuff our Lord's attempt to bring conviction to his heart, he's going to give him one more opportunity. He's going to give him one more very gracious insight into his own wretchedness, into his own sinfulness to perhaps bring him to a true sense of his position before God as a violator of God's Law and one who neither loves God or his neighbor. How will the Lord do that? How will the Lord go deeper?

How will he thrust the knife in more effectively? How can he penetrate the hard heart of this man? Well the story unfolds to give us the answer. The story our Lord now tells is enough to shatter the pride of a sensitive person, to literally shatter the pride of a spiritually minded person, to destroy the pride of a true seeking heart. It is a crushing story. It is an unforgettable story that produces immense conviction and is designed not as a story to teach believers how to live, although it has implications in that direction, it is designed as an evangelistic effort. The story is told to a non-believer, a self-righteous man who will not enter the Kingdom of God. The story is told to him as an evangelistic effort to bring him to the true sense of his sinfulness and consequently to cry for mercy. On the surface, the story seems like a simple story about being kind.

It isn't. It is far profounder than that. Let's look at the story, verse 30, Jesus replied and that in itself is an act of grace. And He said, A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and he fell among robbers and they stripped him and beat him and went off leaving him half dead. And by chance a certain priest was going down on that road and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite also when he came to the place and saw him passed by on the other side.

But a certain Samaritan who was on a journey came upon him and when he saw him, he felt compassion and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them and he put him on his own beast and brought him to an inn and took care of him and on the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, take care of him and whatever more you spend when I return, I will repay you. It's really a fascinating story, isn't it? Now there's no reason to outline this passage, you don't need to outline a story.

And you also don't need an outline when you only have one point. And there's only one point here, as in most all the cases of Jesus' stories and parables. This is not a true story, this didn't happen. This is a tale Jesus spun, an illustration He made up to dramatize in an unforgettable way, the point He wanted to drive into the man's hearts and ours as well. It's a story about a journey on a very dangerous road and let's pick it up at the beginning. A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho.

You do go down, Jerusalem approximates 3,000 feet above sea level, Jericho approximates 900 to 1,000 feet below sea level, it's a 4,000 foot drop in 17 miles, so it's pretty severe. Winding, I've been on that road a number of times, dangerous, almost frightening precipices that plunge three and four hundred feet down into crevasses, very dramatic, filled with caves and rocks. It is legendary for being a dangerous road, dangerous because you could fall off, dangerous because it is so barren, dangerous because all the caves and rocks allow for hideouts for robbers and highwaymen. Even in the fourth century, four centuries after Christ, I read that it was a favorite place for Arab highwaymen to rob people and kill. Going down that pass which, as I said, is a frightening thing in itself, especially in a bus when the edge of the bus is over the edge of the road and you're looking straight down, the pass was known as the Pass of Adumim, it is so-called in Joshua 18, 17 and that's related to the Hebrew word for blood, it's bloody pass, a journey in a very, very dangerous place.

And so Jesus casts the story in a familiar place, the road from Jerusalem down to Jericho. And a certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and the predictable happened and he fell among robbers, a group of highwaymen pounced on the man. They didn't just rob him, follow this. They stripped him.

I mean, they didn't just take his purse, they took everything. They stripped him and left him virtually naked. And then they beat him and the term for beat here has the idea of repeated blows. They pummeled him and they left him half dead. We would say today he was in critical condition. He was in the process of dying and he was already halfway there. Obviously this man in the story is in desperate need for help in this kind of condition on a lonely road.

There could be a lot of time passed before anybody came along, there was no guarantee that someone would find him or help him. Jesus then in the story immediately introduces a little bit of hope. He says in verse 31, and by chance, a certain priest was going down on that road. This appears on the surface to be the best of news.

This is good news. Here comes a priest, a servant of God, one who offered sacrifices for people in the temple, one who lifted the people up before God, one who was to be a paragon of spiritual virtue, the best of men, the godliest, the righteous, the personification of virtue. This is ideal because a priest would know the Old Testament Law. He would know that Leviticus 19.34 says that if you see a stranger in need, you do whatever it takes to meet his need. Why he would even know Exodus chapter 23, verses 4 and 5 that says, if you even find your enemy's donkey in a ditch, you make sure you rescue the man's donkey, let alone the man. And he would have taught this and he would have known this. He would have also known Psalm 37 21 that the righteous is gracious and gives. A priest...a priest would even know the wonderful words of the prophet Micah and what did the prophet Micah say? He said on behalf of God, he has told you, O man, Micah 6, 8, what is good.

What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God? He would have known that. He would have known what God expected of him. He would have known that judgment would be merciless to the one who didn't give mercy. And so with just that opening little remark, and by chance a certain priest was going down on that road, we might have reason for hope. However, it is short-lived because immediately Jesus said and when He saw him, He passed by on the other side. And He uses a verb only used here in that verse and the next verse that has in it the word ante, to strengthen it, He literally went the opposite direction. He saw him and went the opposite direction. Now this is about loving your neighbor.

What can we conclude? The priest had no love for the man. Immediately Jesus has turned the man's question on its head. Instead of talking about who qualifies to be your neighbor, let's talk about the quality with which you love. If you're even asking the question, who qualifies for Me to love, you can't fulfill that commandment.

It's not about who qualifies, it's about the character of your love. So Jesus has already turned this upside down and now He's talking about the love of the individual toward someone in need, not whether the person in need qualifies to be loved. So we know this, that loving your neighbor is not defining some narrow definition of love that belongs only to certain people. It's the same as loving God.

You're to love God with all your faculty, heart, soul, mind and strength and you're to love your neighbor as yourself and it's not who your neighbor is, it's who you are that determines that love. Now at this point, the priest went the other way. It's really kind of humorous at this point because I read a lot of commentaries because I want to know how these things are interpreted through history, old commentaries and even new ones.

Many commentators stop at this point, have long discussions. Why didn't he go over there? Well he was a priest and he thought maybe this was a dead body and he couldn't touch a dead body. If he touched a dead body, he was ceremonially unclean. And then some other commentators argue, well it wouldn't matter because he was going from Jerusalem to Jericho, not from Jericho to Jerusalem. If he was going to Jerusalem, he would have brought his uncleanness into the temple. But since he was going the other direction, he would have some weeks to go through the purification process before he came back, etc. And others said, well he didn't go over there because he was afraid of the same fate. He was afraid that the robbers might be lurking around and he'd be the next victim.

Others have said he didn't go there because he didn't want to aid a wicked man that might be punished by the wrath of God. You want to know something? You know what this man was thinking? He wasn't thinking anything.

How do you know that? Because he didn't exist. There's no man here. This is a story. How can you write three pages on what a guy's thinking who isn't even in existence? This man didn't live. This is not anybody. This is a story.

I'm reading all this and I'm saying, this is ridiculous. Trying to assume what a man thinks who doesn't exist, he had no brain. This man had no brain. This man was no one. It's a story.

Don't worry about what his reason was, what his motive was, what his excuse was, what his thinking was, he didn't have any. The point is simple, you would expect a priest who knew the Law, knew what was required to go help the men. You would expect a priest of all people who made sure that all the people recited twice every day that you're to love your neighbor as yourself would do that which you required the rest of the people to recite and himself also.

You would expect a priest to go and help. Was this an indictment of the priesthood in general? I think it would be safe to say that the priests in Israel lacked compassion, wouldn't you? In Matthew 23, Jesus says they bind heavy burdens on people and don't so much as lift a finger to relieve the burden. Jesus sort of cast the priests in Israel like wolves who come in and tear up the sheep, who put heavy burdens on people.

That's why He said, take My yoke upon you and learn of Me for My yoke is easy, My burden is light. I think it would be safe to say that the priests were externally legalistic and hypocritical but lacked compassion. They certainly lacked compassion toward Jesus and the Apostles. But I don't think this is an indictment of the priesthood.

This is just a story about a man you would expect to help because he knew the Law but he didn't help...he didn't help. And then Jesus goes on in verse 32, likewise a Levite also...Levite because of the tribe of Levi. The priests were from the tribe of Levi also. But anybody who was in the twenty-four courses of the priests was not just a son of Levi who was son of Jacob, but anybody who was in the priesthood was a son of Aaron.

Levites came from Levi but not from Aaron and they were given priestly duties. They were the lowest people on the ladder, the priestly service ladder. They were assistants to the priests. They were the temple police. They saw to the issues of the liturgy and they aided the priests. They had to know something about the Law.

They were close. They were intimately acquainted with the functioning of Judaism, with the studies of the lawyers and the scribes and so forth. So they should have known what the priests knew as well. And so at the top sort of the religious ladder is the priest, at the bottom is the Levite. He comes to the place he saw in verse 32, passed by the other side.

Same verb, went the other direction, opposite direction. And you have again an illustration of a man who had no love. You could say that these religious elite were the ones called in verse 21, the wise and intelligent who didn't know the things of God. But we have to say at least this, neither of these men, if they were real people, would be qualified for eternal life. They didn't love God, first of all, because if you love God, you keep His...what?...His commandments. They didn't love God to start with, and also they didn't love their neighbor because there's one right there and they have a perfect opportunity to demonstrate it and they don't. So being religious, doing all the ceremonies, being Jewish, being circumcised, being a part of the whole system, being as tightly connected to the religious system as you can get, being a priest and a Levite isn't going to get you in the kingdom of God. And when you look at the character of these men, they don't pass the test, the test is to love your neighbor as yourself.

They went the other direction, wanted nothing to do with it. This is the attitude we see in human life, human nature today, even with ourselves, I don't want to get...what?...involved. I don't know what that might do to me. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. Today John helped you answer life's most important question, what must I do to be saved? Back to something John said earlier, if, like Candace, you look to Grace to You for consistent and clear teaching, will you let us know? Your letters are a great encouragement to John and our staff.

Send along a note when you get in touch with us today. You can mail your letter to Grace to You, Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412. Or even quicker, email us at letters at Let us know how John's verse-by-verse teaching has strengthened your faith and increased your devotion to Christ.

Again, you can reach us at letters at, or for regular mail, Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412. And friend, thank you for remembering to pray for Grace to You. Pray that God would use these broadcasts to help listeners know His perfect peace and also to equip them to minister that peace to others. And keep in mind, at our website,, there are thousands of free Bible study tools available. You can read articles from John and the staff on the Grace to You blog, including a series titled The Anatomy of the Gospel. It's a great supplement to John's current radio study. You can also listen to any radio broadcasts you've missed or download any of John's more than 3600 sermons. The website again, Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson. Remember to watch Grace to You television Sundays on DirecTV, channel 378, and then be here tomorrow when John continues unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-06 05:46:05 / 2024-03-06 05:56:53 / 11

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