Jesus says to tell John (Luke 7:22-23):
“Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”Jesus then begins to talk about his necessary death and in 9v51 sets his face to Jerusalem. Everything between the end of chapter 9 and the middle of chapter 19 happens on the road to his death, before he arrives at Jerusalem.
WHAT’S GOING ON HERE?
As Jesus begins his journey to his death we begin to see what life will look like in his new human race. He is the perfect son, unlike Adam and Israel. What will it mean to be part of his new people? This passage will show us that if we receive mercy from Jesus, by receiving his good news about his Father, we will come to share in his relationship with his Father. In other words, humanity will be restored to the life we were always meant to enjoy.
In this passage we have famous material.
The story of the good Samaritan.
The Lord’s prayer.
Someone who has never read the Bible will probably be familiar with this evidence that Luke records.
What do they mean, and why does Luke put them here?
We begin with Jesus praying. See his intimate relationship with his Father – mutual enjoyment in the Holy Spirit. Kings and prophets longed to be inside that relationship but failed, but Jesus makes himself known to little children who bring no works and no wisdom to Jesus.
The next two passages illustrate this. First, The Good Samaritan. An expert in the law comes to catch Jesus out. He asks the best question but Luke shows us his wrong motives. Jesus exposes that he thinks he can do it, but then the expert pushes further, and the parable exposes that real righteousness is far more shocking than he imagined.
The story of a man beaten up is scandalous. Help should surely come from the religious elite and his Jewish countrymen, but it’s left to a Samaritan, hated by the Jews, to help him. Who is my neighbour says the man? Your neighbour, whom you should love, is the shocking Samaritan who shows mercy to the man. Love your neighbour a neighbour like that! Jesus is pushing him to see that he’s not in a position of strength, he’s like the man beaten up on the roadside – he needs help. And Jesus is offering to help him.
If he’ll receive mercy from Jesus then he’ll be free and able to show mercy to others.
“Eternal life is inherited. It is graciously given as a function of being adopted into the God-family. This suggests that the good Samaritan is Jesus himself. He comes to us when we are lost and hopeless. He binds up our wounds and pays the tab. Jesus reverses the question: it is not ‘Who is my neighbour?’ but ‘Who has been neighbour to me?’ And, reading it in the context of Luke 9-10 and the movement to the cross, the answer is Jesus.” Don Carson
"Jesus is the Great Samaritan to whom the Good Samaritan points. Before you can give this neighbour-love, you need to receive it. Only if you see that you have been saved graciously boy someone who owes you the opposite will you go out into the world looking to help absolutely anyone in need." (Tim Keller, Generous Justice p 77)It’s absolutely fine to apply this story to say we should be merciful to those in need, but Jesus isn't telling the man if he can show mercy he’ll get eternal life, he’s using a story about the scandal of receiving mercy to help him see his own need of a Saviour. The one he’s trying to catch out is the one he needs help from. If he receives that help he’ll find boundless freedom to help others.
The message is much the same at the house of Mary and Martha – one busy sister, and one sister who is listening as Jesus teaches about his Father and his kingdom. One thing is necessary, receive Jesus’ gospel word.
If we let Jesus serve us and receive his mercy, what does it look like? What difference does it make? Wonderfully since His kingdom is all about forgivenss of sins, it looks like sharing his relationship with his Father. His mercy means that the relationship we should enjoy with God as Father can be restored through his mercy.
Jesus’ friends ask to be taught to pray. Jesus says, you can pray “Father”. Jesus’ friends can pray like Jesus prays, they can ask of Jesus’ Father. They can enter his relationship with his Father and has for his kingdom, ruled by King Jesus, to come.
What does life in the kingdom look like? They can ask for God’s help with small things, every day provision, God’s help in relationships in which there is sin, and need for forgiveness – forgiveness that is only possible because King Jesus dies for us.
Jesus’ Father cares about these things. He is a generous Father who will give freely if we’ll have the “shameless audacity” to ask. And not only will he give good gifts, but the Holy Spirit too. Then, when we pray – we’ll pray Father, in the joy of the Spirit, just like Jesus.
Jesus says our names are written in heaven (10v20) this picks up on the idea of Jesus as our high priest. In the Old Testament the high priest would have the names of the people on his heart (Exodus 28v29) and so carry them into the presence of God. The same now happens for us as Jesus invites us into the relationship he has with his Father.