published in ALWS 70th & BonegillaWorship / Chapel / Devotion on September 30, 2020

Serving from the heart

A Bible study on loving and caring for others, by Pastor Simon Cooper

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It’s a powerful thing when the wealthy and healthy help the poor and needy. It’s even more powerful when it happens the other way around.

I was privileged to travel through remote villages in Mozambique five years ago through ALWS. We were humbled when these villagers, dependent on subsistence living in a challenging environment, prepared a farewell meal for us of goat, chicken, ugali and vegetables.

They fed us their very best food and the whole village, who rarely enjoyed the taste and nutrition of meat, waited and watched until we were fed before they started eating.

Who was serving whom? You don’t forget hospitality and a meal like that. Christ came to us through the people of Gaza Province, Mozambique.

Read Luke 10:25–37. 

 The religious expert asks Jesus what to do and to whom in order to get eternal life. He wants a neat exclusive list of people to whom he owes the duty of love.    

How does Jesus’ parable (vv30–35) challenge/extend this thinking?

The three who pass the wounded man all ‘see’ him. The Samaritan’s response stands out.

Focus on the verbs in verses 33 and 34. Write them down.

Now read Matthew 9:35,36, looking also at the verbs. How are Jesus’ actions in Matthew similar to the Samaritan’s?

In New Testament Greek the verb to have ‘compassion’ means to be moved deeply from one’s inner parts (ie heart, lungs, liver, kidneys).

Think about and discuss a time when you felt compassion ‘from the heart’ for someone. Were you moved to act in some way?

We watch the news. Our world is hurting! We might even be moved deeply by events. But then we are whisked on our way, through finance, sports, weather, Netflix and beyond. We ‘pass by’ what we have seen. The hurting are soon forgotten.

The first two travellers forget the injured man for the sake of their plans. The Samaritan forgets his plans for the sake of the injured man.

Can you think of times in the gospels when Jesus, driven by compassion, stops to take time for hurting people?

Nearly 50 years before Jesus was born, Julius Caesar spoke the words, ‘I came, I saw, I conquered’. 

In the light of the Good Samaritan, what word/s could replace ‘conquered’ to form a very different and yet fitting slogan for Christian living?

Jesus comes into the world, sees its brokenness, and helps its deepest needs.

Three lessons about loving our neighbour:

  1. True love and care aren’t limited by prejudice. Despite being rejected by some Samaritans in the previous chapter (Luke 9:51–53), Jesus chose a Samaritan in this parable as the model for godly love. Who is my neighbour?
  2. True love and care are costly. The cross reminds us. Look again at the ways the Samaritan showed immediate AND long-term care.
  3. True love and care aren’t driven by guilt, nor seek reward, nor burden the sufferer with debt. They stem from a new way of being and seeing. Time spent with Jesus changes us, from the inside out. Read Luke 10:38–42. How do Jesus’ words to Martha (Luke 10:42) help us understand the source of our love and care?

‘Wake us O Lord to human need,
to go wherever you would lead …
… our neighbour’s problems now we’ll bear;
because you love, we love and care.’

– from Lutheran Hymnal Supplement 819 by Phyllis Kersten

Pastor Simon Cooper is a member of the ALWS Board of Directors and College Pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran College Noosaville in Queensland.