Lesson 5: Parables

The kindom of heaven is like a buried treasure found in a field. The ones who discovered it hid it again, and, rejoicing at the discovery, went and sold all their possessions and bought that field. 

– Matthew 13:44 (TIB)

Devotion: Read Luke 10:25-37. Modern American Christians are far more shocked by the parable of the dishonest manager we read yesterday than the parable of the good Samaritan. That is only because we do not appreciate the extent the Jews fo Jesus’ day despise Samaritans, viewing them as racially impure and religiously heretical. Jesus tells this parable in response to the question, “who is my neighbor?” Why does the lawyer ask that question? Is it ever appropriate for Christians to ask “who do I have to love?” Does the question itself indicate something positive or negative? How are Christians to know when it is best to offer assistance to people in need? What point is Jesus making by using a Samaritan as the righteous person in the story? What is the difference between asking “who is my neighbor” and “how does a neighbor act?” Does the lawyer receive an answer to his original question or does Jesus change the question he answers? Now that we have heard Jesus’ response, what does it mean for you to act like a neighbor?

Personal Worship Option: Spend time reflecting on the people in your life who have consistently treated you with the most kindness. Thank God for them, and, if possible, contact one or more of them to thank them for their kind actions toward you.

Dig A Little Deeper:

If the lawyer is testing Jesus, is it possible for him to learn something spiritually useful? What attitude is necessary for spiritual growth?

What is the lawyer’s answer, affirmed by Jesus, to the question of how to obtain eternal life? How does this answer differ from how Christians might answer that question? According to some Christian denominations, what is “missing” from Jesus’ response?

If the priest and Levite are on their way to lead worship, should they stop? Is service to the immediate needs of people in crisis more important than communal worship of God? How would congregations feel about a Sunday where they leave in the middle of worship service to spread out across the community and serve those in need? How many people would just go home? To what extent should the congregation’s feelings about such a project be taken into consideration? How would you respond to someone who says “every Sunday we should leave after worship time to serve others.”

What did the Samaritan risk by stopping to help? What did it cost him?

How should Christians view non-believers who perform acts of service for others?

When you read the parable, to whom do you more naturally relate: the robbed man, robber, priest, Levite, Samaritan, or innkeeper? Do you relate easily to the lawyer?  

Given the events in the parable, what does it mean to show mercy (10:27)?

Now that we have a few parables under our belts, why did Jesus choose this format rather than give rules and expectations? What is the benefit of hearing the story versus having a rule?

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