Looking through eyes of love: Duncan’s sermon this morning

Good Sam4

This morning was Rembrance Sunday, when there is national remembering of those who have served in the armed forces, and those who have given their lives to preserve our freedom. Remembrance Sunday is also an opportunity to give thanks for those who, today serve in the forces.

It’s appropriate that Duncan had chosen to speak this morning on what he suggested is probably the greatest story Jesus ever told, which we know as ‘The parable of the good Samaritan.’ (Luke 10:25-37) – a parable about serving others, and caring for others at great personal costs.

In the introduction to the story, the Shema, which we have bee reflecting on over the last couple of months, is quoted by a religious expert when Jesus asked him what the Law taught on how to inherit eternal life:  ‘“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, “Love your neighbour as yourself.”’ (Luke 10:27)

‘Do this and you will live,’ Jesus told him. But the expert responded ‘Who is my neighbour?’ (v29) and Jesus launched into his story.

Today, Duncan briefly presented the explosive central message of the story – he will preach from it again in two weeks’ time. He pointed out that whereas the expert had asked ‘Who is my neighbour?’, at the end of the story Jesus asked him which of the people in the story was a neighbour to the wounded traveller.

Earlier in the service, Duncan had asked us to chat together about another question: ‘Who has been a neighbour to me?’

The message of the Good Samaritan story is all the more challenging when we look at its context in Luke.  Verses 51-55 of chapter 10 describe Jesus, on his way to Jerusalem, sending some of his team ahead to a Samaritan village to prepare a place to Jesus to stay over there. But the people in the village weren’t prepared to welcome Jesus.

For generations, the Jews and the Samaritans had been at loggerheads – the relationship between these two groups was, said Duncan ‘toxic.’  The very mention of Jesus’ background was enough for the Samaritan village to decide that he wasn’t welcome.

Jesus had been brought up in a context of mutual hatred between these groups. Now he was being turned away by a Samaritan village.

And yet – and this is totally wonderful – this same Jesus, immediately after being discriminated against by Samaritans was able to rise above the experience, and everything he’d been taught in his community, to tell a story about a good Samaritan.

Love always sees the best in others. As St Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 13:7  ‘Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Through love, Jesus in his storytelling is able to paint a different picture of who a Samaritan is, which is not constrained by the past, not constrained by cultural conditioning.

This story, Duncan said, challenges us enormously today. It challenges us to look at the people in our lives. It challenges us to look at the stories of our lives, which may have become stuck in some rut of negativism. And as we look through the eyes of love, we may see fresh possibilities for the future.

The past for Jesus was one of rejection by the Samaritans. The future is one where Jesus leans into the possibility of change – the possibility that can turn an enemy into a good neighbour.

That’s why Jesus’ life and message is described as ‘good news.’

It’s good news when enemies become our friends.

It’s good news when stories can unlock the prisons of bitterness and unforgiveness that we find ourselves in.

It’s good news when we learn to see goodness where our culture and perhaps experience has led us to expect only bad.

Duncan continued ‘May God grant us the grace and love that can cover all the hurts and even the anger that others have caused us. May we be able to see today through grace and love the possibility of what we perceive as bad in others being transformed into good’

And he concluded ‘We sing Amazing Grace because what we are seeing in Jesus’ story is something truly amazing.’


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