Devotional Thoughts for Today
Lk. 10:33-7 (NIV): “But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.  The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’”
Following the aftermath of the L. A. riots in 1992, our church, consisting mostly of Korean-Americans, donated food to a black church in L.A. To that, a close relative commented, “Why would you do that? So that they can beat up some more Koreans?” Some years later, as our church decided to adopt a Japanese unreached group to support the missions work there, church member who grew up in Korea loudly complained, “No, not Japan!”
The Jews listening to this parable in which a Samaritan becomes a hero, probably felt uncomfortable. This man, upon seeing a Jew whose people have taunted him for years, does not pass by him in glee; instead he attends to his desperate need. Meanwhile, other Jews who should’ve helped him completely ignored him.
My relative was upset because he felt resentful towards the African-Americans, some of whom destroyed stores owned by Koreans. In 1992, Jesus might have had him pass by an injured African-American. The person who grew up in Korea complained because he remembered Japan’s brutal occupation of Korea during the World War II. In 1940, Jesus might have had him pass by an injured Japanese.
So, why would a Jew feel uncomfortable hearing this parable? Because Jews wouldn’t do that for Samaritans, since they were considered a contemptible racial hybrid who disrespected their religion. The Samaritans, as offspring of the intermarriage between Jews and Gentiles (2 Ki. 17:24), deviated from Judaism by rejecting all but the first five books of the OT, insisting that the center of worship was mountain Gerizim instead of Jerusalem.
The message of the parable is to love our neighbors, even the unlikable ones. But why should we? Perhaps, this Samaritan represents Jesus; after all, he was accused of being a Samaritan (Jn. 8:48). Christ is the one who “has made the two (i.e., the Jews and Gentiles) one and has destroyed the barrier” (Eph. 2:14). And though he “was despised and rejected by men,. . . he poured out his life unto death . . . [bearing] the sin of many” (Is. 53:3, 12). Therefore, loving our unlovable neighbors, though difficult, is possible in Christ who showed us the way. So, don’t pass by; show compassion.
“Praise the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, you are very great” (Ps. 104:1). Your magnificent and awesome love for me expressed on the cross leaves me speechless and breathless. As You have loved me so richly, I love You with all my heart; and because You love me, I shall love my neighbors. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 41
Lunch Break Study
Read Jn. 13:34-5 (ESV): “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Matt. 5:43-7 (ESV): “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?”
Question to Consider
- What is Jesus’ expectation of us? Why does he expect this?
- We take discipleship classes to be a disciple. Why is doing that necessary to be a disciple but is never sufficient?
- What kind of love does Christ expect from us? How are you doing with loving the unlovable?
- Christ’s expectation is for us to be countercultural: since the culture dictates that we hate those who belong to groups that have harmed our ancestors, the followers of Christ declare “No” to it. Christ expects this because even unbelievers are capable of reciprocal love.
- Discipleship, in short, is imitating Christ in his character; it is walking as Jesus walked (1 Jn. 2:6). Having the right knowledge about how Christ walked on earth is invaluable, but ultimately, we must put that into practice. Love cannot stay as mere knowledge; it must be applied.
- He expects unconditional, costly, radical and countercultural kind of love. I find myself constantly making compromises in this area of loving the unlovable (sometimes it’s my kid). In some cases, apart from earnest prayer and deep introspection into Christ’s example, it just won’t happen.
Do you usually stay within your ethnic/racial group or do you try to reach out? This should never be a “fashion” statement but an earnest expression of our Lord who said, “Here there is no Greek or Jew. . . slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all” (Col. 3:11). Examine your heart regarding racial matters. Spend a moment praying for genuine healing to take place over the racial tensions in America.