Come Follow Me Book of Mormon Central Taylor Tyler

Come Follow Me Insights with Taylor and Tyler | Matthew 18; Luke 10 | Scripture Central

Total
0
Shares


I’m Taylor.

And I’m Tyler.

This is Scripture Central’s Come Follow Me Insights.

This week, Matthew 18 and Luke 10.

So for our first episode, we’re going to cover Matthew 18. And in our second episode this week, we’ll cover Luke Ten, which is an amazing chapter. But let’s jump in. This has one of the one of the most impactful parables for me personally in it of all of them that Jesus shared. And we’ll end the episode with that because it’s at the end of chapter 18. But let’s begin with verse one. At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus saying, who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? It’s almost as if they’re jockeying for preferential position in the quorum or who’s the greatest, who’s done the most or who’s the most beloved of the whole group.

Or it’s like my kids asking which is the favorite child in the family? And I say, well, whoever’s not asking.

The question, that’s a good answer. I love Jesus’s answer because you can picture all this group of people who are sitting there thinking he’s surely going to pick me. And verse two says and Jesus called a little child unto him and set him in the midst of them. You’ll notice the little child probably isn’t sitting there concerned whether or not he’s the favorite or the preferred. The little child is probably fairly comfortable in his or her own skin and is going about life meekly. And Jesus pulls this little child into the midst of them and said, verily I send to you, except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. You’ll notice there’s a big difference between being childish and being childlike and he’s asking us to be like a child.

King Benjamin spoke about this in Mosaic, chapter three, verse 19. He says, becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child to submit to his father. So I wonder if Jesus has some of this in his mind as well. And it’s also interesting Matthew likes to use the phrase kingdom of heaven because he wants to protect the too frequent use of the name God. So Matthew doesn’t often use the phrase kingdom of God, but the kingdom of God is ruled by a king. In fact, when Jesus says elsewhere in scriptures, the kingdom of God has come to you, the implication is the king which represents a kingdom is there. Now, notice what Jesus is doing. People in the ancient world knew that kings had power, authority, prestige. And Jesus is saying, the kingdom that I represent is a kingdom that’s led by a son, a child, someone like Jesus. It’s really quite powerful.

There’s another bookmorn prophet who brings up kind of this idea of meekness and humility. It’s nephi in the book of Heleman in chapter twelve, where he’s lamenting the foolishness and the wickedness and the stiff neckedness of men. And in part of his little lament, he says in verse seven oh, how great is the nothingness of the children of mene, even they are less than the dust of the earth. For behold, the dust of the earth moveth hither and thither to the dividing us under the command of our great and everlasting God. Contrast that with what King Benjamin taught about little children and what Jesus is now teaching his disciples in the Old World about little children, a little child is meek and humble. And when given a command in an ideal setting, when given a command by a parent, a child doesn’t question. The parent doesn’t tell them, that’s dumb. Why do I need to do that? Or why do I need to do it? That way they just do it. And my prayer is, as I work with my own little children, sometimes I’ll see reflected in them that quiet trust in parents. And the thought is, man, I could do better with my relationship as a son of Heavenly Father in how I respond.

Look at verse four. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child? The same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. I love that the angels aren’t up there giving us merit badges or giving us points for making a lot of money or being popular. Whoever puffs him or herself up is going to be brought low. We’ve learned that from extensive scriptures in the Old Testament. And those who are humble, the Lord will one day exalt. What a beautiful pattern for all of us to consider as we move forward.

And he goes on and says, and whoso shall receive one such little child in my name? Receiveth me. And the underlying Greek word there about receiving could also be like this deliberate reception, even like being taken by the hand. And if you think about the word pedagogy, it often is used to talk about when we teach younger people. The word PED actually means child or foot, because a child is often at the foot, and pedagogy means somebody that you guide, who’s at your feet, you guide them along. So you imagine taking their hand and guiding them. You see all these symbols going on that if we receive Jesus as a humble child, we are taken by his hand and guided his pedagogy guides us into his kingdom.

That’s beautiful. His invitation to come walk with me. Implication is he’ll be our pedagogue, our the one who who guides that process. Notice verse six, which ties into some pretty profound words spoken by President Russell M. Nielsen in the October 2022 General Conference. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me? It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. I know some people who have struggled in the past with abuse, both as recipients of abuse and those who have been perpetrators of the abuse. It’s amazing to watch the Lord work with individuals in those settings. Here’s a question for you to consider who needs the infinite power of the Savior’s merciful atonement more, the person who is abused or the abuser? And I suppose it’s an unfair question because the right answer is probably both. They both need the infinite atonement of Jesus Christ for completely different reasons, but they both need the Savior to help them. And it’s been amazing to watch different people work through both parts of that process. And those who turn to the Lord in meekness and humility like a child saying, I can’t do this alone.

I can’t overcome this hurt or this sin alone, help me. It’s fascinating to watch as the Lord does his work with both of those groups of people and others loved ones in those situations, bringing healing and bringing a redemption of life in many cases, to the point where some who have struggled as abusers in the past in this situation, once they’ve worked through this process and with priesthood authorities, they’ve worked through that repentance. They no longer need to carry that millstone, so to speak, for the rest of their life because they’ve been set free. And those who have been abused don’t need to keep carrying those abuses because they’ve worked through this process with the help of the Lord to be set free. And this is one of those sections that is such a beautiful, glorious promise of the Gospel that it doesn’t matter how bad the sin or how bad the abuse that you’ve experienced. The Lord Jesus Christ is the only one who ultimately can turn those, those traumas and those sins and those difficulties into eventual triumphs and growth opportunities moving forward into the future. This leads us into the precursor for this parable that’s going to conclude Chapter 18 before we jump into the actual parable, there was a passage of Scripture given to us in Curtin, Ohio, clear back in September of 1831 in the 64th section of the Doctrine of Covenants.

Listen to these words given to Joseph Smith. He says, nevertheless, he has sinned, but verily I say unto you, I, the Lord, forgive sins. Did you catch that? There’s somebody who’s done something wrong? And we’re speaking of Joseph Smith, Jr. Which I marvel at his meekness, at his humility, at his childlike attributes at times like this. I don’t know about you, but if I’m Joseph and I’m dictating this revelation and it’s going to air my dirty laundry, I’m probably not going to share that with the scribe to be published in Scripture for the rest of all time. I’m probably going to keep that a secret. But you’ll see that he’s putting it out there. So the Lord makes it very clear, yes, Joseph has sinned. But verily I say to you, I the Lord forgives sins. So if we just stop right there and say, I want to be more like the Lord, and if I want to be more like the Lord, he’s going to give you now catch this. He’s going to allow you many, many opportunities to practice, which means there are going to be many times in your life when people say things or do things that are going to hurt you or offend you.

And he’s giving you an opportunity to practice becoming more like Him in forgiving sins and forgiving trespasses unto those who confess their sins before Me and ask forgiveness, who have not sinned unto death. And now notice this next part. My disciples in days of old sought occasion against one another and forgave not one another in their hearts. And for this evil they were afflicted and sorely chastened. So he’s giving us a hint here in section 64, verse eight of exactly what’s happening in Matthew 18. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them. I love that. One of my favorite verses of all Scripture, that if we’re together in his name, his promises, he’ll be in the midst of us, which now brings on this parable. So verse 21. Then came Peter to him and said, lord, how often shall my brother sin against me? And I forgive him till till seven times. So there’s a rabbinic tradition at this time that you have to forgive somebody three times. And we even see that in the Doctrine and Covenants right in section 101. And when you get the Jackson County, Missouri struggles ramping up, they’re commanded to forgive three times, but here’s Peter saying, shall I forgive him seven times?

And Jesus’s answer catches Peter off guard.

Well, it’s interesting. I think Peter would be pretty I mean, it’s a deposit. We’re proud of himself. Like, hey, I understand I’m supposed to do it three times, but I’m willing to go seven times. And Jesus then ups the ante quite a bit, says seven times 7490 if you break this out. So ancient Jews had different thoughts about numbers. The number seven meant perfection. The number ten meant completion. So if you do seven times, ten times seven, you have a complete perfection of completion, meaning one way of looking at this is not waiting 490 times. Oh, if they did 491, I’m not forgiving I see one way of looking at this as we should completely and perfectly forgive people. Now, we should also point out the word sin here. It’s interesting. The Hebrew word for sin means to miss a target. It turns out the Greek meaning of sin also has a very similar thing. Now let’s imagine you’re with friends or family and you are shooting targets. Would you be angry at somebody because they happen to miss? Would you forgive them and say, hey, why don’t you re aim and try again? Would you be angry at yourself permanently if you happen to not hit the bullseye and think about to get good at hitting a target, you need lots of practice.

You’re going to be missing a lot. I see God inviting us to look at our lives as trying to aim towards him and we’re getting lots of practice. We miss at times and we just have to re aim. And in that process we need to be forgiving ourselves and we need to have other people forgive us and we need to be forgiving others as we’re drawing upon the forgiveness of God. And that’s I think, part of what’s summarized here in two verses which eventually leads to this really powerful parable about what forgiveness is.

So what you’re describing reminds me of that great talk given by elder Lynn G. Robbins years ago in general conference about making maybe even a million mistakes on your way to learning how to play the piano or learning a foreign language, or learning a new skill or learning to be a disciple. It’s a beautiful concept of don’t be afraid of finding the joy of daily repentance, of keep trying to hit that target and get better and better. So before we dive into the actual parable in verse 23, starting in verse 23, it’s important to note here that Joseph Smith, on one occasion he told a group that he would give them a key to unlocking meaning and understanding in the parables. And the key that he gave was simply look at the question or the setting, the situation that prompted the telling of the parable. And now you’ll know what the interpretation is most likely pointing you at because he’s responding to a question or a situation or a setting. In this case it was an honest heartfelt question from an apostle, his chief apostle who’s saying how many times do I have to forgive somebody?

And rather than reading it literally like a Greek mindset would invite us to do, of saying well, hey, there should be a smartphone app called the Repent Ometer or the Forgiveness Ometer. And whenever anybody does something wrong to me, I forgive them if they ask. And then I’ve opened the app and I find their name and I put a Mary next to it and put it back in my pocket and I keep track. And as soon as, like Taylor said, once I get to 490, I tell him I’ll forgive you this one last time because you’ve hit your limit on the forgiveness o meter and then 491, you see, now I’m justified in letting them have it, which flies in the face of everything Jesus is trying to teach here. But to make it even more clear, he tells this beautiful story that is much more than just a story about our need to forgive. The first time that this story really sunk deep into my heart was watching an in service, a video training that we received as seminary teachers many, many years ago. It was given by elder Jeffrey R. Holland when he did an in service on video, and he covered this parable.

And it was amazing how much this story came to life in making me feel a desire to become more like the Savior and to connect with him. I’ll show you what we mean here. Verse 23 therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king which would take account of his servants, and when he’d begun to reckon, one was brought unto him which owed him 10,000 talents.

What does that mean? Anciently? How do we translate that into today’s numbers?

It’s such a tricky thing because when you use the word talent, it’s not necessarily gifts or natural abilities like we use the word talent. It’s a weight, it’s a measure of money. And we’re talking about a king. And usually the currency of kings is gold. Now, you would be talking, he’s got this man, this one servant, who owes him 10,000 talents. Now, one of the problems with interpretation here and trying to understand this historically in its context, is biblical scholars can’t agree on how much the talent actually weighed. It depends on whether they’re using a Babylonian talent, an Egyptian talent. There are a variety of measures that all use the same word talent that ends up in the Greek. So we’re not sure. But it’s a range somewhere from 35 to maybe £200. The one that I like using as kind of a rough estimate is one talent being approximately £75. So for those of you who use the metric system, it’s about 34 kg. Just for a point of reference, that’s a lot of weight, especially if you’re talking about gold. And now if you’ve got 10,000 of these, let’s just have fun with this for a second.

The price of gold fluctuates quite heavily over time.

Yeah, let’s just imagine what? Seventeen hundred dollars per hour?

Yeah, let’s just take the price of gold that it’s been this, it’s been higher than this in the recent past, and it’s been a little bit lower than this in the recent past as well. But let’s say that we put it at 1700 lb/oz, sorry, $1,700 per ounce. Well, if you multiply 16oz to get a pound, if you want to go buy a pound of gold, it’s going to be roughly $27,200 for £1 of gold. Are you watching what’s happening here? Now, to get a talent, we don’t know for sure, but we’re going to play with some numbers here. To give a point of reference, if you multiply this by £75, you end up with a fairly big number, $2,040,000. This is per talent using the £75 or 34, buy a talent of gold. Now, that number goes very large when you turn it into 10,000 talents. You just add four zeros to this and what you end up with is 20,400,000,000 talent or dollars. Sorry, for 10,000 talents, $20 billion. And those are American dollars.

And we were looking at how many days of day wages if you had to pay off that that’s what you.

Owed the king, making how much an hour?

I mean, just back then, people didn’t make very much. Imagine you get lucky enough that you’re making $60,000 US dollars a year. It would take you 340,000 years to pay this off. If I’ve done my math right, the calculator never lies.

Calculators got to be right.

My math may not be great, but what’s the point of all this math? What are we seeing here?

So that’s where Elder Holland, in his training took this. That changed something in my heart when he gave us some theoretical numbers that would have been applicable to the price of gold back in the 90s. His point was, this is so much more than just a lesson on our need to forgive. This is a lesson about the infinite atonement of Jesus Christ and about his willingness to forgive us and for our ability to tap into his wealth, into his capacity and his generosity to learn how to become more like Him in the process. Now, we’ve given you I have to tell you, we’ve given you erroneous numbers here, because what we’ve done is we’ve worked with verse 24 as it comes to us in the King James text. The word here, if you look this up in strong’s concordance and you go to this verse and click on the little number next to 10,000, you’ll see that it’s the Greek word mordeos, or myriad, which becomes myriad in English. Which one way to look at this. Is it’s the biggest number you can imagine? It’s a myriad of talents that this guy owes. What is the biggest number you can imagine?

Well, in 1611 England, as the King James translators are coming across this word Mortius in different places in the Bible, the biggest number that they could imagine, apparently the myriad number to them was 10,000. Can you picture them saying, what’s the biggest 10,000?

Whoa.

Yeah, that’s it. That’s big. Write that down. 10,000. I suppose that if you were translating the Bible from Greek into English today and you came across the word myriad or this really big number, I don’t know, Mary, people today who would translate that into 10,000, I think we would put a much bigger number on that. Thanks to technology and calculators and computers and smartphones that our brains and calculus and algebra classes in school, we’re used to dealing with much bigger numbers. So the reality is, our 20.4 billion price tag that this guy owes is grossly deflated from what I think Jesus was actually teaching to his apostles. I think the better scenario here is to basically interpret this parable of saying, this man had an incalculable debt to the King. He owes an amount that is so astronomically big, there is no chance of him ever repaying it. Even in thousands of lifetimes. He could never repay this loan, this debt. And we’re not even charging him interest along the way because if we were, he’s going to fall even further behind. Working full time, not taking any vacations or holidays.

It’s like he could never become a profitable servant, ever. All on his own.

On his own without help. But now watch this. Watch this interaction. Understanding that context before, as much as he had not to pay, I guess that’s a pretty big understatement. The Lord commanded him to be sold and his wife and children and all that he had and payment to be made. We’ll at least get whatever we can out of him, right? The servant therefore, fell down and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me and I will pay thee all. I love a phrase that Elder Holland used when teaching this. He says, I guess have patience with me. It’s going to take a long time, way more than you’re going to be able to provide. And as a side note here, have you ever stopped to wonder, how in the world did this guy squander so much money and have nothing to show for it? And before we get too far into this parable, let us not forget that this parable is about you and me. We’re this servant in the parable, and the Lord is the king. And so we fallen to the ground. Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

Then the Lord of that servant was moved with compassion and loosed him and forgave him the debt. I don’t know about you, but if I had that astronomical incalculable debt weighing down on me and I’m called into the king to make this accounting, and I don’t have a penny to my name to repay this, I have no way of repaying him. And I fall to the ground and he says, I’m going to frankly forgive you. You don’t have to repay any of it. I don’t know about you, but I would get up and I would want to go celebrate and I would want to be so kind and so merciful, but watch what this guy does. Look at verse 28. What’s the very first word? But the implication is, watch out. There’s something that you’re not expecting that’s going to come next. There’s a counter effect that’s going to come into play here. But the same servant went out and he found one of his fellow servants. I don’t know how you interpret that, Taylor, but to me, when it uses the word he went out and found implies an active searching process. To me, it doesn’t feel like he’s on his way home celebrating and happened to run across this guy.

It’s really important for us to consider this because the underlying Greek word does imply a searching. Although there’s multiple meanings for this word. It could mean by chance you happen to discover somebody, but many of the meanings happen to deal with that you went out and actively searched. You took the time and put effort in.

So isn’t it amazing? In the context of this story, it feels like Jesus is proving this point, that he went and found this guy. And what’s the issue with him? He owed him a hundred pence and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat saying, Pay me that thou owest, what’s, a hundred pence. Now, in the King James Version, the word pence is the old English way of saying, at least in America or modern English, we would say pennies. We would pluralize one penny by saying two pennies. But in 1611, it would be one penny becomes two pence. So it’s just plural for penny. So you now have a guy who owes 100 pennies. Don’t assume that that just means, wait, he owes him a dollar? No, it’s much, much more than that, because one pence or one penny rather, is a very specific amount for these people back then.

This is what you get paid for one day’s labor. So 100 pence is about three months of work. It’s a considerable sum, but compared to what this other guy owes, yeah.

So if you look at this from our context today, in a North American US setting, I don’t know, what, three months full time labor for a common waged labor would be somewhere, I don’t know, between 10,000 and $15,000 in a three month time period. Let’s just set it out as $10,000. That’s not insignificant. But can you see the problem? Compare a $10,000 debt to an astronomical, even when we use our 10,000 talent number instead of the myriad talent number, $20.4 billion, this doesn’t even compare. Oh, I wonder. I wonder where that $10,000 came from to be loaned out to this fellow servant in the first place. I wonder if it was loaned out from this bigger debt incurred by the first servant. And if that’s the case, then every subsequent debt should automatically be also forgiven. But not this servant. He’s got him by the throat. Pay me that thou owest. And what does he say? His fellow servant fell down at his feet and besought him, saying, have patience with me and I will pay thee all. Now, that should ring a bell. You’ve heard that phrase before, word for word. You’ve heard that phrase before up in verse 26 that should have caused this first servant to remember.

It couldn’t have been but a few minutes before that he himself was saying those words with this kind of a debt. And now he’s holding this guy by the throat over a 100 pence debt. And he would not, but he went and cast him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were very sorry and came and told unto their Lord all that was done. And then his Lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, o thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt because thou desirest me. Shouldst not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee? I don’t know of any better way to teach this principle of this godly attribute of mercy and forgiveness than this particular parable. Remember the key that Joseph Smith gave us for unlocking and interpreting meaning in parables? It’s to look at the question, look at the setting, what prompted Jesus to tell the story in the first place? And if we go back to that, it was Peter feeling frustrated coming to Jesus, how often do I have to forgive my brother?

We don’t know whether he’s talking about his literal brother Andrew or another brother, or if it’s a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. That’s just he’s just doing things that are annoying me and I have to keep forgiving him. And some of you are thinking, I know who it must have been Judas. We have no idea what the situation was. That was annoying, Peter saying, how often do I have to forgive him? And so this story, this parable, if you put it in that context, when Jesus says, no, Peter, don’t forgive him seven times, forgive him 70 times seven. And then this parable backing that up, gives you this idea that you and I go to God and we plead for forgiveness, because there is no way that I can repay that eternal debt, that infinitely, enormous debt that I owe to justice and to God. So Christ pays it for me. He puts it on his ledger, he wipes it out for me. And then he says to me, now you try to become more like me. And we get these opportunities to work with people with hundred pence debts all around us all the time, that by default of God being willing to forgive me of all that enormity of debt, should by default encourage me and invite me to let go of 100 pence debts whenever they happen to arrive, even if they come 491 times.

And the way Jesus concludes this parable, we’ll read it, but then we’ll actually share the opposite. The opposite phraseology, verses 34 and 35, the Lord was wroth and delivered him to the tormentors till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not everyone his brother, their trespasses, meaning, okay, if you don’t forgive, you’re going to suffer, just like this wicked servant did in this parable. The opposite is, if you do forgive people, you’re not going to suffer like that, and God will fully forgive you, as we saw all the way back here in verse 27. Then the Lord of that servant was moved with compassion and loosed him and forgave him the debt. Isn’t that what we all want? And we. Have this fundamental principle in revealed Gospel of Jesus Christ love our neighbor, do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. And so the invitation is, let’s loose other people from their debts and let them go so that we also can receive the same.

It reminds me of Jesus teaching with whatsoever judgment ye judge, therewith also shall ye be judged. It’s that idea of if you can learn to be merciful, you’re going to only end up receiving more mercy. But if we hold on to wrongs and if we grab 100 pence debt by the throat and demand that it be paid to the very fullest, that same thing is going to be demanded of us, but ultimately with a debt that we will never be able to pay. So this is much more than a story about big numbers and a need to forgive. This is a story about the Savior’s infinite atonement and of his attribute of mercy toward you and his willingness and his desire to forgive you and to help you become more like Him in practicing to become more Godly by working with people who have incurred 100 pence debts all around us. So in closing, may the Lord bless all of us to be more merciful, more kind, more childlike, more meek, more willing to do whatever it is that the Lord asks us to do as we strive to grow up, to become more like Him.

And for this second episode for the week, we’re going to be focusing on Luke, chapter Ten, which is a beautiful chapter. In fact, it probably contains the story that is the most widely known across the world from the entire New Testament. When we get to the story of the Good Samaritan, parable of the Good Samaritan to begin in chapter ten, verse one, the Lord has established enough of a foundation of disciples that now it’s time to take it to the next level. I love the attribute here of a living, growing, dynamic church. It’s an ongoing developing process that he doesn’t begin with the full structure. He started by calling a few disciples and then he worked with them and then eventually called Twelve Apostles. Now he’s worked with them in the group and now he’s to the point where it says, after these things, the Lord appointed other 70 also and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place whither He Himself would come. So in verse one there, if you circle the word sent, the Greek word is apostello. It’s the root for apostle. The word for apostle is to be sent, it’s to be put on this mission.

So Jesus is calling these 70 ordaining them sending them out to perform this mission two by two. What is their call? Verse two therefore, said he unto them, the harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that he would send forth laborers into the harvest.

This word pray that he uses in Greek means to have like a deep need, something that’s very earnest and deeply felt. So we think about the word pray like we want to talk to God. But it seems like Jesus is expressing this emotion, like there’s so much work to be done and I want you to feel the need for God’s help.

So you might be wondering, why even send these 70 out? The idea is to spread the work faster. The laborers are few, but the harvest is ready, so we need to go and gather in those disciples. And he gives them a lot of promises and a lot more instructions in these next few verses. And now he comes down to verse 16. He that heareth you, heareth me, and he that despises you, despise me, and he that despises me despises Him that sent me. So there’s this beautiful progression there of Heavenly Father sent Jesus, who then sent these 70 out to do this message. And they’re not to spread this message. They’re not out on their own power alone. They’re representing Jesus Christ because he’s the one who sent them. And by default, Jesus Christ isn’t even representing himself. He’s representing the Father, Him that sent me. And we’re going to see that phrase show up multiple times, especially in the Gospel of John. Jesus is going to use that idea of having been sent.

What’s interesting, we pointed out a few verses ago the word sent is apostello or apostle. And this is the word that Jesus uses of Himself in verse 16 as well, that Jesus also technically is an apostle, one who is sent forth on a mission with a message to share.

Now you come down to verse 25, skipping down to 25. Behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tempted him, saying, master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? Now, look at some subtle detail here. If somebody were to come to Jesus and ask this question, what should I do to inherit eternal life? That’s probably one of the best questions you could ask the Savior, unless you came tempting him like this lawyer did. He didn’t come because he had a heartfelt question of what do I really need to do to gain eternal life? He’s trying to trap Jesus. And it’s very clear what we see in all these other stories in the New Testament anytime somebody tries to back Him into a corner or to trap him or to tempt Him, jesus never gives them the law of the Gospel or the higher Law or he never expounds his doctrine to them in very clear ways. What he does is he simply points them back to the Old Testament or back to the law of Moses because that’s where they’re struggling. He doesn’t give them the higher Law as is what happens here. Jesus doesn’t respond to his question.

He doesn’t tell Him what he needs to do to gain eternal life. He just says, what is written in the law? How readest thou? So can you picture this scene with a lawyer and Jesus? And the lawyer is trying to tempt Jesus. And when we say lawyer back, then it’s somebody who knows the law of Moses, is very well acquainted with it, probably has most of the Old Testament memorized, and he’s going to show his prowess how much more wise and prudent he thinks he is than Jesus in interpreting the law. So he’s going to trap him. And so when Jesus asks the question, what is written in the law? How readest thou? You can picture this moment with whoever’s standing there turning to the lawyer, and he’s going to look really good, boy, I know the law. So he responds with, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy strength and with all thy mind and thy neighbor as thyself. Now, I could be wrong, but I can picture Jesus in that moment looking at this man and maybe looking at the group and smiling very gently and shaking his head, saying, that’s right.

He said unto him, thou hast answered right this do and thou shalt live. You’ll notice how Jesus let him answer his own question from what he knew from the Old Testament. Jesus didn’t give him the answer. This man generated that answer from his understanding of the Hebrew Scripture, and Jesus validated it. Yes, that’s it. If you will love God the way you described and love your neighbor as yourself, you will live. You’ll get eternal life.

And this is really a core or essential summary of the law of Moses. And let’s just wind the clock back a bit. The law of Moses was delivered at Mount Sinai. God had taken the people out of bondage. He wanted to save them, bring them out in the wilderness and say, I’ve done all these great deeds for you. I want you to be in covenantal relationship with me, and I’m going to give you a set of instructions. We call that the law of Moses. There were a lot of them. And so this was a common way for how you would summarize the totality of a large body of covenantal instructions. And this lawyer understands how to provide a summary of all these things. But it gets better.

Can you picture the frustration of the lawyer who came with the intent to trap Jesus? And he delivered this answer to Jesus’s question, to answer the lawyer’s original question. And now he’s saying, this didn’t work. I was trying to trap him and make him look bad. And now he just got me to say the right answer. And so verse 29 says, but he willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, and who is my neighbor? So verse 30 begins jesus answering, said, oh, are you noticing that he’s not going to give the man a direct answer to his question, either in the law of Moses or from the higher law, he gives a parable so that the meaning is veiled for those who seek to understand. There’s going to be a lesson here and for those who are trying to tempt him, they’re going to only get a small portion of the deeper gospel lesson that Jesus is about to deliver to disciples both anciently and in modern times. So a certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. So we have to say something about the geography of this particular story because it’s significant. Jerusalem sits on the western slope of the Mount of Oliver.

Jericho sits on the eastern slope of the Judean or the wilderness, down in the Dead Sea Valley, down where the Jordan River empties into the Dead Sea. The height elevation here is significant. It’s roughly 3500ft in elevation loss. When you go from Jerusalem down to Jericho, 3500ft is a lot of altitude loss over roughly 15 miles of spread. So this is a when you, when you drop over the Mount of Olives and start going down towards the Jordan Oliver Valley, it is a steady slope downhill. So a certain man left Jerusalem, which is considered to the people back then as the high and holy city. If you go to Jerusalem, it doesn’t matter whether you’re coming from north, south, east or west in the Scriptures, if you’re coming to Jerusalem in the New Testament, you are going up to Jerusalem. If you’re leaving Jerusalem, you’re always going down because it’s considered high and holy, because you have the presence of God, symbolically in the holy of holies in the temple. In Jerusalem, Jericho is seen as a low spot. In fact, it’s probably the lowest city on planet Earth at that time, elevation wise. And if you look at the symbolism here, because parables have layer upon layer of potential applications and symbols that we can apply to our life, look at one layer that Jerusalem could be this nice symbol for heaven, which would make Jericho this nice metaphorical symbol for our time here on earth.

It was. Jack Welch, two years ago, in an enzyme article, talked about this parable as an overlay for the plan of salvation, specifically looking at how the certain man could be a nice symbol for Adam, who leaving a place like Eden, coming to a fallen earth, fell among thieves and we’ll get to that part in a minute. This could also be your story, leaving heaven, coming down to the earth on a journey, and what happens? Fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment and wounded him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now, we need to digest a couple of words there in that verse. The word for stripped in Greek is ek duo. Ek duo means exactly that. You’re stripped of clothing, of covering. The opposite word for ek duo is n duo. Well, what is n duo. It’s to endow and to enos means to be clothed or to sink into a sacred garment. So Adam and Eve, partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and they end up recognizing that they’re uncovered, they’re stripped, they’re exposed. They need to be clothed, they need to be covered.

They need the safety of this covering or this robe of righteousness, so to speak, that they can’t create for themselves. So notice Adam and Eve tied into this story. Notice us tied into this story as Jesus continues to teach it. And again, various levels and layers that we can approach this story from to find more meaning than somebody sitting there in the first century just listening to a story about a guy who’s going down towards Jericho on this road and notice he was left half dead. Verse 31 says, and by chance there came down a certain priest that way, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Now, did you notice why the priest came by and saw him? It was by chance. He wasn’t trying to see anybody who was in great need. It was just by chance. So our first witness of this is the priest. And he passed by, went on his way on the other side of the road, wouldn’t even get near him. Look at verse 32. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came unlooked on him and passed by on the other side.

The likewise. Do you think it could connect beautifully with by chance and likewise? So also by chance, a Levite came and at least the Levite paused, walked over, looked at the man, and then continued on his journey, not willing to help him. Some of you may be wondering what’s the difference between a priest and a Levite? Knowing this won’t get you into heaven, but it’s kind of helpful when you’re reading the scriptures to know what these different words mean, what they’re implying. A priest, if you look at the genealogy chart of the sons of Israel, the tribes of Israel, the third son was Levi and his posterity, anybody who was in the tribe of Levi would be considered a Levite. So if you are in that tribe, you’re a Levite 400 years after Levi, you get Moses and Aaron, their brothers. And if you’re a descendant of Aaron, then you’re a priest. And if you’re in the patriarchal line directly, then you’re eligible to be the high priest. So the priest would be a little more seen as a little more elite than the Levites. So you’ll notice the guy who was maybe feeling more puffed up, he didn’t even stop and look at the man.

And the Levite at least went and looked at him before proceeding on his journey. And there are a lot of people who have spent a lot of time talking about possible reasons for why this might be the case. Can I suggest that they’re all really good reasons and they all probably weigh in because it’s a really complex situation, the priest and the Levite. If you touch a dead body, or if you touch body fluids that have come out, you become ritually and ceremonially unclean. It’s possible that those two guys are on their way to do things, to officiate in their priestly or Levitical functions, and they don’t want to be dirtied by this man. It’s also possible that they’re seeing that he was beat up and robbed and left half dead by brigands, by robbers, and it’s possible that they’re still around and they don’t want to be the next victim. So they could be experiencing intense fear. It could be that they’re thinking maybe this is a trap, maybe they’ve staged something here to get people to stop and then they’re going to rob me. We don’t know. Whatever the reason was, or whatever the combinations of reasons were, neither of these men who had priestly power, priestly authority, which would have communicated something to that lawyer who was standing there asking this question to the lawyer.

A Levite or, sorry, a priest first and a Levite, they would be important people and he would resonate with them because he would probably spend a lot of time with Levites and priests. But you’ll notice they did nothing to help this man. Now verse 33 opens with the word but. If you were to connect the word but with likewise and by chance, it gives you this counter, this opposite outcome, implying not by chance, which could mean he was coming looking for somebody, but a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed came where he was and when he saw him, he had compassion on him. Which, if you look at this story from that lawyer’s perspective, I could be wrong, but I think he might have initially thought, hey, what’s a dirty Samaritan doing on our road? That’s a Jewish road from Jerusalem down to Jericho. He doesn’t belong here, he’s an enemy, he’s a bad guy. So of all people, it’s this Samaritan who’s the one who has compassion on this man, who it’s implied in the telling of the story that this man is a Jew. So you get an enemy coming and seeing a Jewish man on the side of the road half dead.

Look at the verbs in verse 24. He went to him, he bound up his wounds, he poured in oil and wine, he set him on his own beast, he brought him to an inn, he took care of him. All these kind, healing, compassionate words coming to us in the Gospel of Luke, the physician. This parable only appears in the Gospel of Luke, this healing, beautiful story of what a physician would do. All of those words in verse 34 are medical help kinds of words. On the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence and he gave them to the host and he said unto him, take care of him, and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. So it looks like in this story there’s going to be a second coming when this Samaritan is going to come again. He’ll repay anything that this innkeeper has spent above those two pence. And now Jesus turns to the man, the lawyer, and says, which now of these three, thinkest thou was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves. So you have to understand, a Jewish man with a priest and a Levite, they should have been the closest to him, they should have been his neighbors.

But even our lawyer friend here in this story was able to see the symbolic meaning of what was told. He says, he that showed mercy on him and then said Jesus unto him, go and do thou likewise. What a beautiful ending to this story. Now let’s let’s look at this from a from a 30,000 foot overview perspective. Who are you in this parable? Jesus just invited the lawyer, and by extension all of us, to go and do thou likewise. So it’s very clear that his invitation is for us to take on the role of the Samaritan. Go and love your neighbor. Find people who are downtrodden, who have been beat up, who have been stripped, who have been left half dead by the highway side that others either totally ignore or at least come and say, oh, wow, it’s really unfortunate to be you and keep going, be a Samaritan to help them. So you could be that. But remember, with parables and with symbolism, there’s great power in looking at it from all kinds of angles, turning it, seeing what you can find reflected from all kinds of perspectives. So if we don’t just stop there, who else could we be?

In this parable, using Jack Welch’s article from many years ago in the enzyme, at one symbolic level, you and I could be the man who fell among the thieves. Unfortunately. Is it possible that there might even be times in our life when we are symbolically like the thieves? Is it possible that in our imperfection, in our weakness, that we sometimes say things and do things to other people that leave them half dead on the wayside, feeling robbed and stripped? Unfortunately, I think if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer to that is yes, far more often than any of us would like to admit. Is it possible that you could find yourself in the symbol of the innkeeper where Jesus brings wounded, hurt, desperate people to you to take care of? He brings them into your life, and it might cost you more than what it looks like you’re receiving initially, but his promise is whatever you spend helping somebody, he will richly reward and repay when he comes again at his second coming. So we can look at the inn itself as a beautiful symbol for the church, for the home, for family structures, for any safe place that you can bring people where they can take whatever time is needed for people to work with them, to help them be healed and to be made whole from their experience.

Immortality on this road, this steep road, this descent down into earth where they’ve fallen and need to be redeemed. It’s a beautiful symbol. And at one level, let’s just be honest are there other times when you could find yourself symbolically represented by that beast, by that mule or donkey that the Samaritan has with him? That he took the man and he put this wounded man on the beast and said, carry him with me down a steep path to a safe place. Is it possible that the Lord sometimes puts people literally on your back, on your shoulders to carry them, not just walk with them, but to carry them for a season because they’re incapable of walking themselves? The point being, this parable is so profound, it’s so rich, it’s so broad and deep. You can spend the rest of your life thinking about this one and finding application and finding motivation on the covenant path to become more like the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the ultimate Good Samaritan in this story. And he’s inviting us to go and do likewise, which means we don’t walk around by chance happening upon people who are struggling.

We go looking for people on occasion who are struggling. It’s like the invitation that President Henry B. Iring has given us multiple times to pray to the Lord and ask the simple question, lord, who needs me? And then go find them. Go find those people who were on the highway side struggling. Now, the conclusion of this parable, think about one thing. The Samaritan left the inn and told the innkeeper he was going to come back again. Where do you suppose the Samaritan was going? We don’t know because it doesn’t tell us. But I have a hunch, I have a guess. And my guess is that he has restocked his supplies, put them on the animal that he is using to help him. And my guess is that the Samaritan is headed back up the road because he knows that there are a lot of thieves and that there are a lot of people who are going to fall into harm’s way. And he’s not going by chance. He’s headed back up that road because he knows somebody has fallen that night and is going to need to be rescued. And what an amazing example for us to follow in this idea of it’s much more than love thy neighbor as thyself.

He actually put that into practice for us and showed us through a beautiful story, what it actually means to love thy neighbor as thyself. So the last part of this chapter contains this little story that is so beautiful, involving Mary and her sister Martha. These are the two sisters of Lazarus they live in Bethany, which is just up and over the Mount of Olives on the east side of the Mount of Olives from Jerusalem. So it’s as you’re headed on the beginning part of your journey, if you’re headed down towards Jericho, first city you’d come to on the other side would be Bethany.

The Hebrew meaning of that town is the house of the poor. So it seems like it’s not a super wealthy place. And it’s interesting. This is where Jesus seems to spend his time when he’s in Jerusalem. Not in Jerusalem teaching, but it’s the house of Mary, Martha and Lazarus among the poor.

Yeah. So let’s pick up the details here in verse 38. Starting in verse 38. Now, it came to pass as they went that he entered into a certain village and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. So there’s some sense of responsibility and ownership here, resting on Martha. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’s feet and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving. Let’s pause there for a minute. Can you all picture in your mind’s eye this scenario? Jesus comes to Martha’s house. Can you picture this flurry of excitement of, oh, Jesus, welcome. And can you picture Martha now running around the front room, straightening the pillows, getting everything ready? Here, come and sit down right here. And Jesus sits down. And then Martha runs to the kitchen to start preparing some refreshments, some food. If Jesus has come to their house from Jericho, we don’t know whether he came from Jerusalem or from Jericho or from somewhere else. But if he did, if he was headed towards Jerusalem and he was coming up from Jericho, then when he arrives at Martha’s house, it’s been a long, steep hike that day, 15 miles, roughly gaining 3500ft.

They would be exhausted if that’s the route that they were coming from. So you can picture Martha’s desire to make him feel comfortable regardless of which direction he’s come to her house. And then in your mind’s eye, can you picture Mary? Mary seems to just be sitting at the feet of Jesus, just absorbing this moment, having this wonderful connection, probably asking him questions, probably listening intently, asking, how’s your mother? How are your siblings? And just enjoying that moment. And in the background you can picture Martha running around the kitchen. And then it says she came to him and she said, lord, DOST thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore, that she help me. Now pause right there for a moment and ask yourself the question, how would I feel if I were Mary? I’ve been sitting there with this connection with Jesus, and all of a sudden my sister Martha came out and said, lord, basically, why are you letting her sit there? She’s being lazy. Bid her get her to get up and come and help me so we can get the food and the drink and we can come out here and we can all sit down and enjoy your presence together.

Have you noticed a pattern in the New Testament? Anytime anybody comes to Jesus pointing a finger of accusation or scorn or judgment towards anybody else, and it doesn’t matter what the judgment is, anytime a finger of judgment is being pointed, jesus, not once in the New Testament, turns to the finger pointer or the accuser or the person who’s doing the judging and says, thank you. Thank you for making me aware of what that person’s doing. Yes, you’re right. And then turn to the person who’s being accused and rebuke them or accuse them. Not once. Jesus, as the great intercessor or mediator, regardless of what the accusation is, he gets between them and he always turns it back to the person doing the finger pointing. And in this case, he doesn’t tell Mary, you’re right, martha, Mary, you should go and help your sister. It’s really rude for you to sit here. He doesn’t do that. Instead, he turns to Martha and he says, martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about Mary things, but one thing is needful, and Mary hath chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her. Now, let’s pause here, because if if you look at this story through the history of time, and if you were to ask most people through the past centuries, how would you rate Mary and Martha?

Most people would say, oh, Mary’s great. Martha’s sub great. She’s less than Mary, she’s not good. That’s how many people have interpreted these two women based on this telling of the story. Can we just tap the brakes for a moment and say, let’s pretend for a moment, let’s shift the story. Let’s pretend that Jesus is sitting there talking to Mary, sitting at his feet, having this beautiful moment of connection. Martha’s clamoring away in the kitchen, making some noise, getting some refreshment ready. What would have happened if Mary had said, Wait a minute, Lord, why are you letting my sister be so rude and make this noise instead of actually coming and connecting with you so that we could make that connection, and afterwards we’ll both go together and get the refreshment taken care of? Why don’t you bid her come and sit down and make this connection with you? Do you think that the next verse would have said and Jesus turned to Martha and said, martha, Martha, you’re cumbered about much serving, but Mary here hath chosen the better part? Or do you think Jesus might have had some words of correction for Mary?

I don’t know, because that scenario doesn’t show up. So we’re just guessing here. But my hunch is that one of the better parts, there are a couple of potential answers for what the better part is, or the good part that Mary chose. Perhaps one of the. Ways to interpret. The good part is to say Mary was comfortable being Mary and she didn’t feel the need to try to make Jesus change Martin into becoming more like Mary. Perhaps allowing people to serve or to sit and connect with Jesus or to be who they naturally and inherently are. Perhaps there’s power in that.

So this chapter is about service. If that hasn’t been apparent by now, we all have the need to be served by Jesus, by those around us, and by invitation to be like Jesus, to serve others. And we all have different capacities for serving. And I love that quote from Pat Holland that all of us have opportunity, capacity to serve, and we can do it in ways that are natural to us. And it’s okay if we aren’t serving like everybody who might be around us, like the Good Samaritan. All of us can be on the lookout to see people who have a need to be served. And we can participate. Being on that covenant path, loving our neighbor, and by so doing, showing that we love God.

I love that. And as we conclude this story, keep in mind Mary and Martha are going to come into future scripture chapters that we’re going to read. And you’re going to see how much Jesus loves both Mary and Martha and how this is not a defining moment that condemns or relegates Martha to a second level standing for the rest of her life. This is a learning experience for Martha and it’s beautiful. And we can learn from that. Jesus isn’t trying to change Martha to be more like Mary any more than he’s trying to change Mary to become more like Martha. He’s trying to change both of them to become more like Him. And in closing, Sister Holland’s final words on this subject, she says somewhere, somehow, the Lord blipped the message onto my screen that my personality was created to fit precisely the mission and talents he gave me. Our invitation is to not look horizontally in comparison with other people and their personalities and their gifts and their talents and their opportunities, but to rather look heavenward and say, Lord, here I am. You gave me a very unique set of gifts and talents and missions to fulfill in this life.

Help me, shape me, to be able to be the best version of me that I can possibly be with Thy help and his promise is pretty sure that he will guide us and he will shape us when we give. Give our life to him. And we leave that with you. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Know that you’re loved and spread light and good us.

This is.

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.