How to Get Into Heaven | Luke 10:25-37


Listen to Timothy “TA” Ateek share the parable of the Good Samaritan and learn what the point of this story is truly about. No one can come to God without recognizing who they are in God’s eyes. We like to think we are “good enough,” but the Good Samaritan story is intended to provoke humility that leads to eternity with God.

Timothy "TA" AteekJun 11, 2023Luke 10:25-37

In This Series (11)
Pray Through to God’s Breakthrough | Luke 18:1-8
John ElmoreAug 6, 2023
The Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector | Luke 18:9-14
Blake HolmesJul 30, 2023
Don’t Waste Your Life | Matthew 25:14-30
Timothy "TA" AteekJul 23, 2023
The Forgiven Forgive | Matthew 18:21-35
John ElmoreJul 16, 2023
A Warning to Rule Followers | Luke 15:25-32
Timothy "TA" AteekJul 9, 2023
The Forgiving Father and His Two Lost Sons: The Prodigal Son | Luke 15:1-32
John ElmoreJul 2, 2023
Which Soil Are You? | Matthew 13:1-9
Marvin WalkerJun 25, 2023
The Path to Being Built Different | Matthew 7:24-27
Jermaine HarrisonJun 18, 2023
How to Get Into Heaven | Luke 10:25-37
Timothy "TA" AteekJun 11, 2023
Problems, Prayer, and Provision | Luke 11:5-8
John ElmoreJun 4, 2023
Your Best Summer with Jesus | Matthew 13:44-46
Timothy "TA" AteekMay 28, 2023

Do you think of the story of the Good Samaritan as an explanation for how to treat others well and help with others’ needs? That is a common misunderstanding of the text. Luke 10:25-37 is a religious leader’s attempt to test Jesus. Jesus’s response is an attempt to help this man see who he actually is in God’s eyes. Based on this story, here are five questions that will hopefully lead you to a humility that gives birth to eternity with Jesus:

  • Have you asked what you must do to inherit eternal life?
    • This is the most important question you can ask because it has earthly AND eternal impact for you.
  • Is eternal life something you earn or receive?
    • The Old Testament law is clear; to earn eternal life by our own efforts, we must be perfect in how we love God and love our neighbors.
    • Unfortunately, none of us can be perfect on our own. We are born sinful and desperately need saving.
  • Have you understood God’s standard?
    • God’s standard is perfection. He is perfect, so heaven is perfect.
    • Imperfect people cannot in heaven with Him; they must be perfect. We can try, but we will never achieve this standard on our own.
  • Is there conviction or is there self-justification?
    • Excusing your imperfection by meeting your own standard for eternal life is self-justification.
    • Instead, you should feel a conviction that you haven’t lived up to God’s standard of perfection.
  • Who are you in the story? We are everyone except the Good Samaritan.
    • We are the lawyer who failed to realize that God’s standard is perfection.
    • We are the priest and the Levite, who know the law but fail to fulfill it perfectly.
    • Some might identify most with the robbers because we know we’ve done things that don’t meet God’s standards.
    • We are all the helpless man on the side of the road.
    • Jesus is the Greater Samaritan. He gave His life for our redemption, and He brings us into a right relationship with God.

Discussion and Application

  • If you were to die tonight, on a scale from 1-10, how sure are you that you would go to heaven? Why? Does your answer show that you are trusting in your own efforts, or in Christ’s work on the cross?
  • Between the lawyer, the robbers, the helpless man, the priest, or the Levite, who do you relate to the most is this passage and why?
  • If you are a Christian, in what ways have you grown apathetic to the gospel? What will it take for you to rediscover the awe and wonder of what Jesus did for you on the cross?
  • How can you love others in our city this week with the radical love of our Greater Samaritan?
  • Additional Scripture: Ephesians 2:3; Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18
  • Additional Resources: Love Our City

Good morning, Watermark. How are we doing today? It's so good to see you. I hope all is well. If this is your first time ever at Watermark, I'm glad you made it. My name is Timothy Ateek, and I'm one of the teaching pastors here. I want to give a special shout-out to all of the counselors we have in town this week from the Pine Cove City team. We have counselors here who are about to spend Monday through Friday investing in hundreds of kids. So, thank you for what you're about to do. We are excited about how the Lord is going to use you.

I want to start this morning by sharing with you… Between 2012 and 2016, I led a ministry called Vertical Ministries on the campus of Baylor University. Vertical was a weekly Bible study that met on Monday nights. One of the beauties of living in Waco is that I could work on the third floor of the Baylor library, because the third floor was where all of the theological books were for the school's seminary. I could go up there, and I had every book I could want at my disposal, so I'd go up there often.

Well, one time I went up there to study, and the library was much fuller than normal. It was because it was exam week. So, I walked up the stairs, and I started on the left side of the library. I had to make my way around the entire floor before I could find a chair. Now, here's the thing. When I went up there, I went with some pride into that place, because I went up there thinking, "I'm the Vertical guy." Vertical met on Monday nights, and every Monday I would speak to hundreds and, at times, over a thousand students.

So, I honestly thought that as I walked around that floor, there were going to be students smiling and waving and stopping me to tell me how thankful they were for me and how I'd changed their lives, and who knows what else they would like to tell me. I have to be honest. On this particular day, I went left, and I probably passed by a hundred students before I found my chair. Not one of them looked up. Not one of them smiled. Not one of them waved. No one said a thing to me, and I was really, really surprised.

Then I sat down, and I was surprised even more, because as I sat there, I looked on my right, and I was so confused, because right there on my chair was this long piece of toilet paper. I traced that piece of toilet paper to its origin, and it was originating from the back of my pants. As luck would have it, I'm one of those people who puts toilet paper down on the seat when it is in use, and when I stood up, about this much tucked into the back of my pants and about this much went for a ride around the library. So, when I left the bathroom, some of the bathroom left with me.

In that moment, who I thought I was in those college kids' eyes collided with who I actually was in those students' eyes. I wasn't the Vertical guy. I was just some creepy old man taking laps around the library who clearly didn't know how to take care of business. It was a very, very humbling moment. I was so flustered I couldn't concentrate. I just packed up my stuff and left.

The reason I tell you about that extremely humbling moment in my life where who I thought I was collided with who I actually was is because right from the beginning of the message, I want it to be clear that humility is the key to eternity. Humility is the key to eternal life with Jesus Christ. In fact, nobody can spend eternity with God in heaven without coming to a humbling moment where you realize that who you think you are in God's eyes is not who you actually are apart from a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

The reality is that many of us like to use this thought process of "You know what? In the grand scheme of things with about eight billion people on the earth… No one is perfect, and I haven't done everything right, but in the grand scheme of things, in comparison to a lot of people in this world, I've lived a pretty good life." We like to take the mentality that in God's eyes, we might not be perfect, but we are at least good enough.

But if you were to read the Scriptures, the Scriptures would say that apart from a relationship with Jesus, there is no one who is good. We are, in fact, apart from Christ… The Scriptures actually call us enemies and children of wrath. So, there has to be this humbling moment where who you think you are collides with who you actually are.

This morning, we're going to look at the most famous story Jesus ever told in his ministry. The reason he told this story, which we know as the parable of the good Samaritan… The reason he told this story was to help a prideful, religious man realize that who he thought he was in God's eyes was not who he actually was in God's eyes.

My hope is for many of us this morning we might have that type of clarity; that many of you, no matter how many years you've been coming to Watermark, might have this moment of collision between who you think you are and who you actually are. So, if you have a Bible, join me this morning in Luke, chapter 10. Luke, chapter 10, is where we find the parable of the good Samaritan.

Now, when you hear that we are talking about the parable of the good Samaritan… This is probably the one story Jesus told that when you hear the title of the story, you have some preconceived idea of where we're heading. When you know that we're talking about the Good Samaritan, what do you assume we're talking about this morning? Helping those in need, right? Living with your eyes up, looking for those who need help, who are in need, and addressing their need.

That tittle Good Samaritan… I realized this week as I Googled "Samaritan," that title is used almost daily by different news outlets around the nation. It is a common title that is used not just by people in the church but by everyone in society to refer to those people who identify the needs of others and seek to help them.

Here are some titles from the news cycle just from the past week. "Good Samaritan credited with saving man's life following fiery crash." "Good Samaritan seriously injured during police chase." "Good Samaritans stop to help man trapped in flooding truck." "Good Samaritans jump into action, perform CPR after man falls into Gunlock Falls." This is a title that is used widely to refer to those who snap into action and help those in need.

I'm just going to confess. I'm going to be honest. I have known the parable of the good Samaritan now for over three decades, and it wasn't until studying it for this message that I realized the ultimate point of the parable. I realized in studying it Jesus actually didn't tell this story to call us to go out and help those in need. That's actually not the point of the parable of the good Samaritan. Jesus actually tells this story to help a religious man realize that he hasn't been religious enough.

It's to help a guy who is, in some ways, a professional God follower realize that he thinks he is saved when he actually isn't. Jesus tells the parable of the good Samaritan to lead this man to a place of humility where he would realize that who he thinks he is before God and who he actually is are not congruent. So, my hope is that this parable might have the same effect in our lives today. Look with me at Luke, chapter 10, and let's just read the story that many of us know very well. It starts in verse 30.

"Jesus replied, 'A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.

He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, "Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back."'"

This is a story we know very well. What I want you to see is that this story is a reply. Did you see how verse 30 started? It said, "Jesus replied…" What is he replying to? You have to understand the context of the story. What is Jesus replying to and who is he replying to? Well, you have to back up to verse 25 to really understand what's happening. Look at what it says. "And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, 'Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?'"

This is the context of the parable of the good Samaritan. Jesus tells a story in response to a man who's trying to test him, and the way he is trying to test him is by asking the question, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus tells this story in response to this question. Now, think about who is trying to test Jesus. It's a lawyer. When we hear the word lawyer, we think of someone working at a big law firm who is dealing with civil law. That is not what you should think.

This is a religious figure. The law he is an expert in is the Mosaic law, the 613 laws. Think Ten Commandments. Think the rest of the 613 laws, or commands, you find in the Old Testament. This lawyer is an expert in that law. He's an expert in religion. He was most likely a member of the Sanhedrin, which was basically the Jewish supreme court system. This is a guy who viewed himself as one of God's greatest assets in God's eyes. So, he comes to Jesus to do…what? We already know his motive. His motive is to test Jesus.

Now, as we go throughout this passage, here's what I want to do. I want to ask five questions to you. I want to give you five questions for you to ask yourself that are going to be birthed out of this passage. These questions are meant to awaken inside of each one of us a humility that would lead to eternity with Jesus Christ.

  1. Have you asked what you must do to inherit eternal life? Have you ever asked that question? Have you ever stopped and zoomed out of the day you're in and just asked the question, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" There is no more important question you could ever ask in your life. That question is more important than "What do I want to do with my life?" That question is more important than "Will you marry me?" or "How many kids do you want to have?"

That question is more important than "Should we buy this lake house or this ranch?" or "How much money do I need in order to retire comfortably?" It is more important than any and all of those questions. Why? Because all of those questions will only impact, at most, decades of your roughly 80 years here on the planet, but the question "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" will impact how you live here for the rest of your life, and it will impact where and how you spend eternity.

This week, I was talking with my mom. One of my mom's friends, who was in her late 40s, passed away unexpectedly, and this person did not know Jesus. My mom, who does love Jesus… It just hit her in a very heavy way. My mom was saying, "No one is promised tomorrow." That's what she said as we talked this week. The reason I share that with you… Hey, do not depart this earth without asking the question, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"

Unfortunately, this lawyer was asking the right question to the right person with the wrong motive. This guy wasn't actually looking for an answer to his question. He was simply looking for an opportunity to test Jesus. I want you to look at the question again, because it's going to lead to the second question I would encourage you to ask.

Again, the question he asks to Jesus is "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" That question alone gives us some indication that this man actually desperately needs to hear from Jesus, because the wording of it is, in some way, an oxymoron. He says, "What must I do to inherit…?" That word inherit is the idea of inheritance. Inheritance is something you receive because of your identity. It deals with relationship.

Because you are the son or daughter of someone, you receive something because of your identity. This lawyer is saying, "What is the activity I need to do to earn something God only gives on the basis of identity?" So, there's confusion. He's basically saying, "How do I earn something that can actually only be received as a gift when you have the right relationship with someone?" It leads to the second question I encourage you to ask yourself.

  1. Is eternal life something you earn or receive? Are you clear on that? A question we ask around Watermark a lot is "On a scale of 1 to 10, if you were to die tonight and were to stand before God…" (Isn't that a fun thought? Welcome to church. Aren't you glad you came?) If you didn't make it home today, and you were to die and stand before God, how sure are you that you would qualify for heaven?

If you were to die tonight, how sure are you that you would go to heaven? Just pick a number in your mind between 1 and 10. What is that number? Visualize it right now. Is it a 3? Is it a 9? Are you a 10? This is a helpful exercise because it will help you identify whether you think eternal life is something you earn or receive. If the number that is in your mind is somewhere between a 1 and a 9, then here is what is happening. One of a few things is happening.

It's possible that you're just being too humble and it feels too arrogant to you to say "10," even though you know you are a 10, but for the rest of you, it's possible that you look at some of the things you've done and think, "I don't know if I were to die today if I would truly deserve eternal life," or you wonder if you have done enough to actually qualify for it.

If that's you, you are in a place right now… It might be subtle, but you believe eternal life is something you earn. If you're a 10, one of two things is happening. Either you're overly confident or you've come to a place where you realize that eternal life isn't something you can earn; it's something you receive freely as a gift.

So, this man asks the question, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" Now, I want you to see Jesus' response. He says to him, "What is written in the Law? How do you read it?" I love this, because Jesus answers his question with a question. Jesus is basically saying, "Look. You're an expert in the Law. How would the Law you're an expert in answer that question? How do you read the Law? What's your understanding of how the Law would answer it?"

He says, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." So, what the lawyer does is he reaches into the Old Testament to Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. He basically sums up the Law. You love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and then you love your neighbor as yourself. How does Jesus respond? He says, "You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live."

Now, it is so important that you don't miss what Jesus is doing here. You practically have to see and hear the humor in Jesus' response. Jesus is basically saying, "Yeah. You got it right. If you are looking to the Law to tell you how to earn eternal life, then that's all you have to do. All you need to do is have an everyday, all-day, complete, wholehearted, all-consuming, never-wavering, perfect commitment to love God.

And just one more thing. If you want to earn eternal life, you just need to have an all-day, everyday, complete, wholehearted, all-consuming, never-wavering, perfect commitment to think just as much about your neighbor as you think about yourself, to spend just as much money on your neighbor as you spend on yourself, to think about your neighbor's needs just as much as you think about your needs."

If you're able to do that from the first day of your life to the last day of your life, to have a perfect love for God and a perfect love for others, you don't need grace, and you will certainly earn eternal life. But in case anyone here is like, "Great. It sounds like I've earned eternal life…" Just in case anyone is not hearing the humor in what Jesus is saying, let's just take inventory right now.

Have you ever had any bitterness in your heart toward anyone else? Have you ever been jealous of someone else, of what they have? Have you ever envied who someone else is and wished that your life and your wiring was a little bit more like theirs and a little bit less like the one you have? Anyone? You don't have to raise your hand. If that's you, if that has happened even once, then you have failed to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.

If you've ever entertained even one sexual thought of another person or if you've ever entertained the idea of getting back at someone who has hurt you, whether it was in fifth grade or at your fiftieth birthday, wherever you're at… If that's you, you have failed to love God with all of your mind.

Or if you've ever woken up and spent the majority thinking about yourself, "What am I going to wear today? What am I going to eat today? Where do I want to go to lunch today? How is my day going?" and you've thought about yourself more than the other people in your life and prioritized yourself over others, then you have failed to love others perfectly. So, you have missed God's standard.

What should the lawyer's response have been to Jesus? When Jesus said, "Do this and you will live," he should have been like, "No one can do that. That's actually impossible." Why is it impossible? Because we're born with sin. We are all born broken by sin. Every single one of us has inherited sin from our first parents, Adam and Eve.

That's why we don't have to teach our kids how to say the word mine. They just know it. I mean, yesterday, we had some friends in town, so we were eating lunch at Hat Creek. I was sitting next to their 20-month-old who was sitting in a high chair. A 20-month-old. That is two months older than a year and a half, in case anyone is not getting there. So, a 1-1/2-year-old, sitting in his high chair next to me.

I just have a bucket of popcorn and am watching the entertainment, because this kid sees his hamburger and grabs it, and he throws his hamburger. Dad gets up from his chair, goes and picks up the hamburger, and puts it back on the kid's plate. The kid sees his dad do that, sees him put the hamburger back on his plate. He throws it and, looking at his dad, begins to try to clear everything else on the table. So, he looks at his dad's drink. He looks at the tray. He's trying to pull it out of his dad's grip to throw it on the ground.

No one ever taught him that. None of his siblings were like, "We're going to go to Hat Creek Burger, and there is going to come this moment. Dad is going to put your burger on your plate. You take it and toss it as far as you can throw it. He's going to bring it back. That's when he's going to think he can win, but he can't, because you're going to throw it. And when he's walking, you're going for his drink and the tray." There's no training. This 20-month-old… You could see evil in his eyes. He was like, "I'm the captain now." That's what he said to his dad. It was crazy. We are born sinful. Nobody is capable of meeting God's standard.

  1. Have you understood God's standard? Have you truly understood God's standard? This was a moment where the lawyer should have seen who he thought he was in God's eyes versus who he actually was in God's eyes. You have to understand God's standard. God's standard is perfection. Why would I say that? Well, it's logic.

If God is perfect, then heaven has to be perfect. How do imperfect people get to spend eternity in a perfect place with a perfect God? That doesn't make sense. In order for anyone to qualify to spend eternity with a perfect God in a perfect place, they must be perfect. It doesn't matter how hard you try. You will never be perfect. Have you grasped that?

Now look at the lawyer's response. What he should have said was, "I get it," but look at how it goes on. Verse 29: "But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?'" This is why Jesus told the parable of the good Samaritan. The parable is a response to a religious person trying to justify himself in God's eyes.

Do you see what he's doing? He's looking for a loophole. He's looking for a way for him to feel better about himself. Can you imagine? You are an expert in the Law. Can you imagine having to acknowledge that after all of the years you've taught the Law, you've just realized that you never actually understood it for yourself?

Do you know what the point and purpose of the Law was? The purpose of the Law was to reveal our sin. This expert in the Law has missed it completely. Do you know what type of humility it would take for him to realize, "I thought I was on God's team, and I just realized I'm actually his enemy apart from his saving work in my life"? Many people don't want to deal with that type of conviction. Many people, when they feel that type of conviction coming on… Do you know what they do? Self-justification.

  1. Is there conviction or is there self-justification? Self-justification_ is simply excusing your imperfection by meeting your own standard for eternal life. That's saying, "God's standard is too high, but I've created my own standard, and as long as I can reach that bar, we'll just call it good." So, it's good for you to realize… Is there conviction when you hear God's standard or is there self-justification?

He asks a question to help him feel better about himself. It's interesting that he bypasses the commandment to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. There's not much wiggle room there. It's kind of like, "It is what it is, and you're not doing it." He's like, "Okay. Well, let's focus on the second one, which is 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

He asks Jesus the question, "Who is my neighbor?" and what he thinks Jesus is going to say is "It's your fellow Jews. Those are your neighbors. It's your fellow Jews." So, there's potential here for this guy to be like, "Look. I've actually loved my fellow Jews pretty well," so he can feel better about himself.

Can you identify with that? I can totally be the lawyer here. I totally know what it is like to self-justify. Even as a pastor, even as a member at Watermark, there are times when it comes to sin where I can be like, "You know what? At least I'm not doing what that person is doing." Do you ever do that? You look around, and you find someone who's not crushing it as well as you are, and it makes you feel better about yourself. It's like, "I'm better than that guy, so I guess I'm actually one of the good ones."

What helps you sleep at night? Is it coming to church today where you feel like you can kind of check the box and God is going to be like, "He made it. She did it again. It's amazing. Making it at least twice in a month. That's incredible"? I'm glad you're here, but what helps you sleep? Is it giving that money to that nonprofit? It just makes you feel better because you know that money is going to help someone else. I'm not saying you shouldn't do those things. What you need to figure out, though, is if that is a form of self-justification.

So, in response to this man trying to justify himself, Jesus tells the familiar story. He says, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead." What you need to know is that this journey from Jerusalem to Jericho was a known path. It was about 17 miles long, and it was a descent from 2,600 feet above sea level to about 825 feet below sea level.

For someone to travel on this route, they would have to go through the Pass of Adummim, which is related to the Hebrew word blood, which is super exciting. It was known as a dangerous route. It was surrounded by caves along the way where robbers could hide and then take advantage of travelers. That's what happens to this man in Jesus' hypothetical story. He gets beaten and stripped of all of his valuables, even the clothes he's wearing.

So, Jesus tells a hypothetical story that is a picture of the worst-case scenario. This guy is beaten to the point where he is headed toward death. He is lying there in the street, helpless, with no one around, and he is on the way to dying. Then the story goes on. "Now by chance…" So, Jesus tells this story, and this lawyer is listening, and he hears, "Now by chance…" It's like, "Oh, thank goodness! It just happens to be that someone is going to pass by. There is now hope. Help is on the way."

"Now by chance a priest…" "Oh, thank goodness! If anyone is going to come… Man, you just won the lottery, because if you're in need and you're about to die… Now there's a priest. If there's anyone who's committed to doing God's will, it's the priest. If anyone wants to honor God, it's the priest." "…a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side."

Now, this is where people like to speculate. They're like, "Well, the reason the priest didn't want to help is because he didn't want to be defiled, because then he'd have to turn around and go back to Jerusalem." No, no, no. This is a hypothetical story. This is a parable. If Jesus wanted you to think about the priest being worried about defiling himself, Jesus would have included that information. No. Parables existed to make only one and, at most, two points.

If Jesus wanted you to think about it, he would have written it in or spoken it in. What is he trying to convey? There is a difference between knowing the Law and fulfilling it perfectly. This priest knew the Law and walked right on by. Verse 32: "So likewise a Levite…" Okay. Not all hope is lost. A Levite is not as good as a priest. A Levite was on the JV team. A Levite was like the Dwight Schrute of the priesthood. He was like the assistant to the priest. That's okay. He's still religious.

"…when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side." This is a shot, a rifle shot, into the heart of Judaism. In the story, the most respected people of Judaism do not honor God. Verse 33: "But a Samaritan…" I guarantee you the lawyer just threw up in his mouth. "But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion."

If you were to look up "Most hated person in the world" in the Jewish dictionary, you would see a picture of a Samaritan. A Samaritan was basically the offspring of Jews who had intermarried with foreign nations during the exile. They had hijacked Judaism and created their own religion. Jews hated the Samaritans, and now Jesus makes the Samaritan the hero. What's interesting is the assumption is the guy who's beaten on the side of the road is a Jew. So, here's a Samaritan now seeking to help his enemy.

It says in verse 34, "He went to him and bound up his wounds…" How would he have done that? Probably by tearing his own clothes to bind him up. "…pouring on oil and wine." The oil was to soothe the wound. The wine was to disinfect it. Those were the Samaritan's possessions for refreshment. Now he's using them on this man.

"Then he set him on his own animal…" Which means he's now walking. "…and brought him to an inn and took care of him." Verse 35: "And the next day he took out two denarii…" Commentators believe that's the equivalent of about 24 days worth of stay. Twenty-four days! "…and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.'"

What you have is a Samaritan looking at an enemy who's in need and saying, "I will cover the cost of all of his care." He is saving this man from slavery, because if this innkeeper helps the man, but then the man, who has lost all of his possessions, including the clothes he was wearing, can't repay him, he becomes his slave. So, this Samaritan is saving him from slavery. What is Jesus doing? He's painting a picture of what it truly looks like to love someone like you would love yourself.

So then Jesus asks him… He never answers his question. He says, "Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" His statement is, "It's not about who your neighbor is. The question is…Are you a true neighbor? In verse 37, the man says, _ "The one who showed him mercy." He can't even bring himself to say the word Samaritan. He's like, "Sa… The one who showed mercy."

Here's the point. This lawyer has never loved like this. Few people ever love like this, and no one always loves like this, which means no one can earn eternal life with God. At this point, the lawyer should be like, "Okay. I get it. It is not possible for me to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength 100 percent of the time, and it's impossible for me to love my neighbor as myself 100 percent of the time. If I'm answering the question 'What do I need to do to inherit eternal life?' the answer is there's nothing I can do to inherit eternal life."

Yet this lawyer, from what we can tell from the story, has still resisted a moment of humility where who he thinks he is in God's eyes collides with who he actually is. The reason I say that is because of how Jesus responds to him. Jesus says to him, "You go and do likewise," and then the scene ends. The curtain closes. We're left with no resolution. It's as if Jesus is looking at him and saying, "Look. If something in you still believes you can earn it, fine. Go try and do it."

It's like Jesus tells the parable of the good Samaritan and says, "Here's how high the bar is. Go out and start jumping for it." We will never know, this side of eternity, how many people spent all of their lives jumping for a bar they couldn't reach and died somewhere in the midst of a jump versus how many people started jumping and realized, "This is impossible. Apart from God's intervention, I am incapable of doing anything that would qualify me for eternal life." Here's the final question I want to encourage you to ask yourself.

  1. Who are you in the story? Let me help you with the answer. We are everyone in the story except the Good Samaritan. We all think the point of the good Samaritan story is to go out and be the Good Samaritan. We can get there, but the first reality is no one is the Good Samaritan. We are actually everyone in the story except the Good Samaritan.

We all, in some way, are the lawyer who have failed to realize that, in God's eyes, only a perfect life is truly a good life. We've all been the priest and the Levite who have known the law and yet failed to actually do it. Some people here would identify most with the robbers. It is so blatantly obvious to you because of the life you've lived that you don't qualify for eternal life with God. You look at the way you've hurt people, manipulated people, and abused people, and it is very clear to you that you are unworthy of eternal life.

Yet we all, every single person in this room, are that helpless man, beaten and left for dead on the side of the road. Every single one of us has been beaten by sin. Every single one of us has been stripped of anything that would be valuable to God, and every single one of us is headed toward death, which is eternal separation from God apart from God intervening on our behalf.

Yet Jesus is the Greater Samaritan who looked upon his enemies and saw us in need. He saw our helpless state. He saw the punishment for our sins, which is death, and what did he do? He didn't just give of his time or his money. He gave his life. We celebrate Communion to celebrate that Jesus' body was broken and his blood was shed. He was punished on the cross so we wouldn't have to be. Why? To bring us into right relationship with God.

How do you answer the question…What must you do to inherit eternal life? This is it. Receive it. Recognize that you are incapable of earning eternal life. Repent. Turn from your life without God. Turn from your sin. Turn toward Jesus. Receive him as your Savior and as your King. If you're here this morning, and you've known Jesus for a long time, you might hear this message and think, "This message is just for the people in the room who don't know Jesus yet."

Let me just ask you: Have you gotten over the gospel? Have you gotten over the reality that you were that man left for dead on the side of the street, yet Jesus has come to rescue you? If you've gotten over the gospel, it's time to get back under it, because the reason you will wake up today and be able to call out to God as Father is solely because of Jesus' rescuing work in your life. The only reason you have the Holy Spirit in you who is cultivating Christlikeness in you is because Christ has come for you and for me.

May the radical love of the Good Samaritan be the radical love we exhibit in our lives. To say that you're a Christian is to say, "I have experienced the radical love of the Greater Samaritan in my life." You need to know that the Spirit of God is in you and desires to empower you to go out and to love others with that same radical love, one that, just like the Samaritan, doesn't love based on race or ethnicity or looks or status. It's kind of helpful that we are in the middle of the month of June. We're in the middle of a Love Our City campaign. May we go out and be people who love others with the same love we have experienced. Let's pray together.

If you're here this morning, and you're realizing for the first time that who you thought you were versus who you actually are… If that is colliding right now, and for the first time you're having a humbling moment where you're realizing your desperate need for Jesus to come and save you, then I just encourage you in this moment to express that faith that is inside you now in the form of prayer where you just invite Jesus in. You can just say, "Jesus, thank you that you have come for me. You've come to rescue me. Would you forgive me of my sins? I want you to be my Savior. I want you to be my King." Would you invite him in this morning?

Lord, I pray for every Christian in the room. Our tendency is to get over the gospel. We can go days without pausing and being overwhelmed with the extravagance of your grace, that when we were helpless, you stepped in, and it's only because of your rescuing work in our lives that we have life. May we get back under the gospel this week, and would you empower us through your Spirit to love others as you have loved us? We need you. We love you. In Jesus' name, amen.