Sep 2nd, 2018
Hello and welcome to episode eighty-nine of The Berean Manifesto, brought to you by The Ekklesian House. This is Pastor Bill and over the next ten minutes or so we’re going to take a look at Proverbs 25:21, “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;” To paint the picture of Proverbs 25:21 we’re going to start by looking at three different places in scripture; Proverbs 24:17, Exodus 23:4-5, and Luke 10:33-36.
Proverbs 24:17 says, “Don’t gloat when your enemy falls, and don’t let your heart rejoice when he stumbles,” Exodus 23:4-5 reads, “If you come across your enemy’s stray ox or donkey, you must return it to him. If you see the donkey of someone who hates you lying helpless under its load, and you want to refrain from helping it, you must help with it.” In Luke 10:30-35 Jesus answers this question of who is my neighbor by telling the following story, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him, beat him up, and fled, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down that road. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. In the same way, a Levite, when he arrived at the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan on his journey came up to him, and when he saw the man, he had compassion. He went over to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring olive oil and wine. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him. When I come back I’ll reimburse you for whatever extra you spend.”
Speaking to a Jewish crowd, there wasn’t much worse a villainous title that Jesus could affix to the hero of this story than to call him a Samaritan. There was bad blood between the Jews and the Samaritans. Both groups were followers of Judaism and in fact are both Israeli by heritage, but the Samaritans held scriptures to be holy that are slightly different than the ones the Jews use. History tells us that the Samaritans split from the main Jewish population in 721 B.C. when the Assyrians conquered Israel because as it says in 2 Kings 17:7-12 they had, “sinned against the Lord their God who had brought them out of the land of Egypt from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt and because they worshiped other gods. They lived according to the customs of the nations that the Lord had dispossessed before the Israelites and according to what the kings of Israel did. The Israelites secretly did things against the Lord their God that were not right. They built high places in all their towns from watchtower to fortified city. They set up for themselves sacred pillars and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every green tree. They burned incense there on all the high places just like the nations that the Lord had driven out before them had done. They did evil things, angering the Lord. They served idols, although the Lord had told them, “You must not do this.”” The Samaritans were those Israelites who were not conquered by the Assyrians and continued on with their lives and traditions. Traditions that included the ones we just read from 2 Kings 17.
In John 4:22 Jesus is talking with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well and tells her here, “You Samaritans worship what you do not know.” Every commentary I read agreed that when Jesus said this He was referring directly to the continuation of the practices listed in 2 Kings 17 that the Samaritans were still engaged in. Because of this and the Samaritan insistence that the mountain they lived and worshipped on was the only holy place accepted by God for sacrifice and worship drove a deep seated wedge between the Jews and the Samaritans. The Jews largely considered the Samaritans to be mongrel dogs, an enemy who wouldn’t “pee on you if you were on fire,” to borrow a colorful modern colloquialism.
For Jesus to specifically point out the priest and the Levite, veritable giants of moral appropriateness in Jewish society, and pit them against a Samaritan to determine who was a better neighbor was a stroke of genius. No one in that crowd would have seen that twist coming and was probably flabbergasted at the suggestion. I would love to have seen the look on the disciples faces when Jesus told the story of the “Good Samaritan” given that it was just one chapter earlier that Luke recorded the event we talked about in the last episode where the Samaritans refused to even let Jesus and the disciples spend the night in one of their towns.
Put yourself in the shoes of the Samaritan, imagine you came across someone that you knew held a highly contentious belief that was contrary to yours. For example; republican vs democrat, Eastern Orthodox vs Catholic, Walmart vs Target, Facebook vs Twitter, Atkins vs Keto. So you pass them on the side of the road changing their tire in the rain. You would what?...
Now imagine the same person or people, but this time they’re protesting outside an event that you’re a part of. They’ve declared themselves your enemy and are yelling the most ludicrous insults they can muster over a bullhorn. I mentioned in episode fifty-nine that I believe this kind of behavior actually just makes a mockery of the issue that you think you are trying to support. But here, we have the perspective of what do we do to respond to those protesting. Do we ignore them? Confront them? Or do we invite them to join us for lunch, or at the very least offer them some food and bottled water?
In the age old adage of WWJD,(Did you ever have one of those bracelets? I had one of those bracelets.) I believe in this situation Jesus would in fact invite them to have lunch with Him. I would hope that I would have this same reaction and that everyone hearing or reading these words would remind me of that hope and belief. If it ever comes up.
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”