The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

The Good Samaritan (readings for July 15, 2007)

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Abraham Lincoln, I believe, once said he would belong to a church when he found one that had the Golden Rule as its creed. Jesus might have clapped him on the back and said, “I hear you, friend.”

In last week’s reading, Jesus was in Samaria, and I spoke about Jesus taking exception to the mutual disdain flung back and forth between some Jews and some Samaritans. Lectionary planners were courteous enough to drop us this week right into the most famous of Jesus’ statements on Samaritans. And you’ll see, Jesus vastly prefers caring for others over fulfillment of religious responsibility.  [artwork from heqiarts]

If you read clear to the end of these Scriptures, you’ll find a couple of astonishingly severe rebukes of the abuse of power on the part of religious but cold-hearted folks. God apparently does have some disdain—but it isn’t toward cultural or religious outsiders!

Proper 10 (15), July 15, 2007: Luke 10:25-37; Colossians 1:1-14; Amos 7:7-17; Psalm 82

Luke 10:25-37
Defining “Neighbor”
25Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?” 26He answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?” 27He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.” 28″Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.”

29Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?”

30-32Jesus answered by telling a story. “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.

33-35″A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’

36″What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?”
37″The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded. Jesus said, “Go and do the same.”

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Colossians 1
1-2I, Paul, have been sent on special assignment by Christ as part of God’s master plan. Together with my friend Timothy, I greet the Christians and stalwart followers of Christ who live in Colosse. May everything good from God our Father be yours!
Working in His Orchard

3-5Our prayers for you are always spilling over into thanksgivings. We can’t quit thanking God our Father and Jesus our Messiah for you! We keep getting reports on your steady faith in Christ, our Jesus, and the love you continuously extend to all Christians. The lines of purpose in your lives never grow slack, tightly tied as they are to your future in heaven, kept taut by hope.

5-8The Message is as true among you today as when you first heard it. It doesn’t diminish or weaken over time. It’s the same all over the world. The Message bears fruit and gets larger and stronger, just as it has in you. From the very first day you heard and recognized the truth of what God is doing, you’ve been hungry for more. It’s as vigorous in you now as when you learned it from our friend and close associate Epaphras. He is one reliable worker for Christ! I could always depend on him. He’s the one who told us how thoroughly love had been worked into your lives by the Spirit.

9-12Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.

13-14God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Psalm 82
An Asaph Psalm
1 God calls the judges into his courtroom, he puts all the judges in the dock.

2-4 “Enough! You’ve corrupted justice long enough,
you’ve let the wicked get away with murder.
You’re here to defend the defenseless,
to make sure that underdogs get a fair break;
Your job is to stand up for the powerless,
and prosecute all those who exploit them.”

5 Ignorant judges! Head-in-the-sand judges!
They haven’t a clue to what’s going on.
And now everything’s falling apart,
the world’s coming unglued.

6-7 “I commissioned you judges, each one of you,
deputies of the High God,
But you’ve betrayed your commission
and now you’re stripped of your rank, busted.”

8 O God, give them their just deserts!
You’ve got the whole world in your hands!

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Amos 7:7-17
7 God showed me this vision: My Master was standing beside a wall. In his hand he held a plumb line. 8-9 God said to me, “What do you see, Amos?” I said, “A plumb line.” Then my Master said, “Look what I’ve done. I’ve hung a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel. I’ve spared them for the last time. This is it!

“Isaac’s sex-and-religion shrines will be smashed,
Israel’s unholy shrines will be knocked to pieces.
I’m raising my sword against the royal family of Jeroboam.”

10 Amaziah, priest at the shrine at Bethel, sent a message to Jeroboam, king of Israel:

“Amos is plotting to get rid of you; and he’s doing it as an insider, working from within Israel. His talk will destroy the country. He’s got to be silenced. Do you know what Amos is saying? 11’Jeroboam will be killed. Israel is headed for exile.’

12-13 Then Amaziah confronted Amos: “Seer, be on your way! Get out of here and go back to Judah where you came from! Hang out there. Do your preaching there. But no more preaching at Bethel! Don’t show your face here again. This is the king’s chapel. This is a royal shrine.”

14-15 But Amos stood up to Amaziah: “I never set up to be a preacher, never had plans to be a preacher. I raised cattle and I pruned trees. Then God took me off the farm and said, ‘Go preach to my people Israel.’
16-17 “So listen to God’s Word. You tell me, ‘Don’t preach to Israel. Don’t say anything against the family of Isaac.’ But here’s what God is telling you:
Your wife will become a whore in town.
Your children will get killed.
Your land will be auctioned off.
You will die homeless and friendless.
And Israel will be hauled off to exile, far from home.”

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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Written by Monte

July 10, 2007 at 11:56 am

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