Jesus' Footprints

Posts Tagged ‘neighbor

Love suffers long and is kind – 1 Corinthians 13:4

imagesCA2VQQABDuring His ministry here on earth, Jesus demonstrated His love for humanity through kindness.  Zaccheus, the tax collector, treated like an outcast, was the person whom Jesus watned to spend time with.  He was kind to the tax collector in that He treated him as a person.  Zaccheus was up in a tree because he wanted to see Jesus.  Jesus called out to him, inviting him to come down.  He had singled Zaccheus out and made it clear that He loved and accepted him.  He even called him a son of Abraham.

Jesus saw that Zaccheus was ready to accept Him as His Savior.  The man had gone to such lengths to get a glimpse of him.  Jesus’ act of kindness changed Zaccheus.  It made him aware of his own sinfulness and selfishness–his shortcomings.  As a result, he wanted to make amends to all those he had cheated.  He was genuinely sorry and that very day he was saved.  An act of kindess brought salvation to a sinner and his household.

In acts of kindness we are representing Christ and carrying out His commandment, “Love your neighbor”.

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And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?

So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’* and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’

And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”

But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

good-samaritan-childrens-Bible-storyThen Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.  Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.  But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion.  So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’  So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”

And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37)

This is story about reaching out and helping a person in need.  A neighbor is not necessarily someone who lives next door or in the same neighborhood.  It is person who needs your kindness, compassion, help.  This young ruler knew the law.  He understood it.  Jesus wanted him to put what he knew into practice.  The law is not just there for us to memorize it but to live it.  Jesus wanted the lawyer to understand that God’s law was governed by love.  It seems as if the lawyer got a little defensive when Jesus told him love his neighbor as himself.  He probably felt pleased with himself when Jesus told him that he had answered his question correctly and didn’t expect to be told that he needed to do more.  So, he wanted to know who his neighbor was.

Jesus told him the story, which illustrated that the injured man was not shown compassion by those whom he would have considered to be his neighbors—men who were supposed to be godly (priestly).  Instead he received help from a Samaritan, whom the Jews considered to be their enemies.  Jesus wanted to teach this lawyer that a neighbor could be someone you might never consider under normal circumstances.

Today, Jesus wants us to help the homeless man laying in the street, or the teen who ran away from an abusive home, the alcoholic or drug addict who wants to come clean or the unwed mother who needs food.  He wants us to live the law rather than merely recite it.

‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” – Matthew 19:19accuser-of-the-brethren8

Like a certain lawyer we need to ask ourselves, “Who is my neighbor?”  Jesus told him the story of a good Samaritan who helped a man lying on the road after he was robbed.  He tended to his wounds and took him to an innkeeper.  He offered to repay whatever was spent to care for the hurt stranger.  This story made the lawyer realize that a neighbor is one who shows mercy.

Neighbor in this context goes beyond the person living nearby.  It is the homeless person you give a warm blanket to or buy a cup of hot tea or chocolate and a sandwich.  It is the troubled teen you help.  It is the elderly person you give your seat to or the blind person you offer your arm to.

Paul wrote in Romans 13:8-10:  “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.  For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

It makes sense that if you love others as you ought, you would not do anything to hurt them.  It would never occur to you to cross that line and have an affair with your boss’s wife or your sister’s husband.  You would never dream of taking another’s life.  You wouldn’t take what does not belong to you or tell lies about someone else.  You wouldn’t want what someone else has.  You would not gossip or tell lies about people.  When you choose love over envy, lust, dishonesty, etc, you would be fulfilling God’s law which Jesus summed up in two commandments–love God and love your neighbor.

If you love others like you love yourself, you would not do them any harm.  You would treat them as you want to be treated.  Always put yourself in the other person’s shoes.  And always think of God and what His word says.  Joseph was not willing to hurt Potiphar by sleeping with his wife or to sin against God by breaking His law which prohibits adultery.  Bottom line:  We treat our neighbors as we would like to be treated.

Behold, to obey [is] better than sacrifice” – 1 Samuel 15:22

Obeying God is the key to having a productive and lasting relationship with Jesus. “As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in My love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in His love.”  Jesus is telling us that His love for us is the same as His Father’s love for Him and that just as He obeyed God out of love, we should also obey Jesus out of love.  When we obey Jesus we remain in His love, we remain connected with Him because we are living by His guidelines. 

 

The definition of a commandment is: A rule or teaching that people should obey.  God gave us commandments to help us to live good, productive lives.  They are designed to keep us from sinning and from hurting each other.  Jesus’ commandments are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and being and to love our neighbour as we would love ourselves.  Jesus loved God and obeyed His commandments and glorified Him.  When we live as Jesus instructed us to live, we are glorifying Him.

 

It is not enough to declare our love for the Lord, we have to show Him and we only do this by obeying His commands.  Obedience is another form of love.  It is a willingness to do whatever we are asked to do for the One we love.  We know God loves us because He has expressed it in words and in deeds.  Jesus willingly gave up His life for us so we should willingly give ourselves to Him.  We can never repay Him for all He has done for us but we can try.

Abraham loved God enough to obey Him when He asked him to pack up his family and belongings and move to a new place.  He obeyed God’s command when He asked Him to sacrifice Isaac.  Noah obeyed God when he was told to build the Ark.  Gideon obeyed God when He told him to take fewer men in battle against the Midianites.  Peter obeyed Jesus and went to preach the gospel to the Gentiles.  These men remained in God’s love.

 

When we disobey God, we are rebelling against Him.  Adam and Eve disobeyed God and as a result sin and death entered the world.  Saul rebelled against God by offering up sacrifice at Gilgal instead of waiting for Samuel.  As a result, his kingdom was taken away from him and given to David.  The Israelites rebelled against God when they were in the desert on the way to the Promised Land by worshipping a golden calf.  They rebelled against God when they worshipped other gods and built altars and offered sacrifices.  They turned their backs on the same God who led them out of Egypt and provided them with food and water while they were in the desert.  The same God who delivered them from their enemies and saved them every time they cried out to them.  The same God who repeatedly forgave them the moment they repented. 

 

God loves us and desires that we love Him in return.  All He wants is for us to obey Him, follow His guidelines.  We see what happens when we don’t.  We should obey all commandments not just some.  Just as we don’t murder, commit adultery, steal, give false testimony, covet what other people have, call God’s name in vain, we should worship one God, honour our parents and remember the Sabbath and most importantly, love God with all our might and soul and love one another. So the bottom line is, obedience to God is our guarantee of a good, Christian life and a lasting relationship with Father and Son.

In Matthew 13:53-58 we read that Jesus was rejected at Nazareth.  Why?  What did He do?  He taught them in their synagogue.  They saw that He had wisdom and did mighty works.  They knew Him as the carpenter’s Son, Mary’s Son and the Brother of James, Joses, Simon, Jude and His sisters.  He was one of them.  He came from their community.  His family still lived there.  Jesus left there some time ago and was visiting and teaching in their synagogue.

The people wondered where Jesus got all those things (the ability to teach and do mighty works).  They were offended at Him because of these things.  It is as if they felt that He had no business teaching them anything.  They saw Him as the carpenter’s Son not as a Teacher or Preacher or Prophet.  They probably would not have accepted Him as the Messiah.

Jesus got a better reception among the Samaritans (John 4:1-45).  The people in Samaria urged Him to stay with them and afterwards testified that He was the Savior of the world.  The people in Galilee also welcomed Him.

Jesus did not do many works in Nazareth because of their unbelief.  Mark wrote that Jesus marveled at the unbelief of the people of Nazareth.  Their attitude prevented them from receiving the blessings that Jesus would have gladly given them.  They didn’t get to know Him as the Savior because they saw Him only as the Boy who grew up among them.  He was the Neighbor who lived there with His family and then He left.  He was gone for a while and now He was back teaching things they had never heard before.  He taught in wisdom and with authority, but they hardened their hearts instead of opening them to His wonderful teachings.

The attitude of the people of Nazareth toward Jesus reminds me of the Sanhedrin’s attitude toward Peter and John.  To the rulers of the people and the elders of Israel, these disciples were uneducated and untrained men.  They marveled at them and realized that these men had been with Jesus.  They wanted to shut them up, however, because of they were disturbed that they taught the people and preached in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (Acts 4:1-3).  The apostles were arrested again because they continued to teach in Jesus’ name (Acts 5:17-28).  After they were beaten and then released, the apostles continued to teach and preach Jesus as the Christ daily in the temple and in every house (verses 40-42).  The unbelieving religious leaders could not prevent the apostles from spreading the Gospel.

This also reminds me of the attitude of the people in the country of the Gadarenes.  Instead of rejoicing when they saw the demon possessed man in his right mind and clothed, they pleaded with Jesus to leave their region.  They were afraid.  They learned about what happened to the pigs and they wanted Jesus to leave.  Jesus complied and go into the boat.

The man whom He helped wanted to go with Him but Jesus encouraged him to stay and share what the Lord had done for him.  So even though Jesus was driven away from the region, His great works were  proclaimed in ten cities (Decapolis) and all who heard marveled (Mark 5:15-20).

When you reject Jesus you are preventing Him from doing great things in your life and yourself from enjoying a saving relationship with Him.  Don’t limit Jesus because of the way you choose to see Him.  He’s more than a Teacher or a Prophet or a good Man or the Son of Mary.  He is the Lord, the Messiah, the Son of God, the Lamb of God and the Savior of the world.

I read about the prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 17.  Only God, the Creator could get ravens to feed a man.  These birds brought bread and meat to the prophet Elijah twice a day in the morning and in the evening.

A raven is:

unclean for food (Leviticus 11:15)

solitary in habit

flesh eating

black

It was the first creature sent from the ark (Genesis 8:7).

Jesus spoke of how God cares for the ravens.  He said, “Consider the ravens, for they neigher sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them (Luke 12:24).  It is interesting that God chose ravens to care for Elijah.

God had a widow in Zarephath take care of Elijah too.  Zarephath is a town of Sidon.  Sidon is a Canaanite city 20 miles north of Tyre.  God used a Gentile to care for Elijah.  As I read about the widow of Zarephath, I remembered that Jesus spoke of her.  He said, “But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah when the heaven was shut up three days and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow” (Luke 4:25, 26).

Jesus was illustrating His point that a prophet is not welcome in his own hometown.  God used unclean birds and a foreigner from Jezebel’s home territory to care for His servant, Elijah.  God sends help from unexpected sources sometimes.

This reminds me of the story of the Samaritan who helped the man who was robbed, beaten and left for dead.  His own people, the Jews did not lift a finger to help him but a Samaritan did.



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