This is us: Sacrificial love

Luke 10:25-37

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “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.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 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. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 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. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”


Every time I prepare a sermon, one of my struggles is finding the title. For me, it is hard to find the title as it needs to be catchy and a summary of the sermon. But it is not the case this time. It is obvious from the beginning that the title will be about loving others. Not only Christian know about this parable, even non-christian know about this parable. You will see in the news stories of good samaritans. This is one of them; On April 7, 2010, Julien Duret was strolling New York’s South Street Seaport with his girlfriend when he saw something fall into the water. At first he thought it was a doll, but then realized it was a baby. In an instant he stripped down and dove into the filthy, freezing East river. Reaching her first, Duret handed the unresponsive child to her father, who was then lifted to safety. Once out of the water, young Bridget Anderson opened her eyes. Anderson’s father praised Duret as “A Good Samaritan”. You will find more news about good samaritan. If one of your friends tells the story why he came late because he has to stop to help unknown people change the tyre, other people may congratulate him for being a “good samaritan”. Even in the US, they have a law called good samaritan law in some states. You can be persecuted when you see someone need help but you do not come and help them.

That’s how the world understands “the good samaritan”. The message is good, which is to encourage people to do good deeds. But the question is “is that the real meaning of this parable? To do good deeds”. If our understanding about this parable is just about “helping others and doing good deeds”, we miss the main message of this parable. Yes, that is part of the meaning of the parable but there is another main message that Jesus wants to teach.

Most people know this parable but they do not know the real context of this parable. When Ps Yosia asked me to preach from this parable, he also gave me the scripture and he asked me to preach specifically from verse 25 to 37; not from verse 30 to 37. If you have a look the parable was explained in verse 30 to 37. Many people focus on just about parables without knowing the full context of the parable.

That’s how the world interprets the parable. “Do good deeds”. The world has used this parable to motivate people to do good deeds. Unfortunately, this message is so often used in churches when they explain about this parable. “Hey Church, we need to do a random act of kindness! We need to help each other every day!” It’s really not about that. There are two problems that I can see when we interpret this parable like that; firstly, we will fall into a legalistic problem and secondly, we just understand the standard of “love for neighbor” on the surface. There is much deeper meaning in this parable. I will divide my sermon into 3 points;


25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

Let’s have a look at the first question “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” The man who asked the question is a lawyer. This type of lawyer is different to today’s lawyer like our friend, Josh Tie. This lawyer in the passage did not go to court. This lawyer is an expert of the law of Moses; the law in the Old Testament which is the first 5 books of the Bible.

This question is not just a normal question from people who are curious about something. During this time, Jesus has developed His ministry on earth and many people did not like it, especially Jewish leaders. The main reason Jewish leaders hated Jesus was because they believed Jesus’ teaching contradicted their interpretation of the Law of Moses. They were so hatred to Jesus to the point they plotted to kill Jesus. One of the ways they used was by asking tricky questions and hoping Jesus fell into the trap and used that as evidence against Him.

When the lawyer came to Jesus and asked this question, he was not really interested to know the answer. Why is he not interested? Firstly, it is because he just wants to trick Jesus by that question. Secondly, it is because he was not really interested in Jesus’ teachings.  He thinks he already knows everything. Instead of accepting Jesus’ teaching, the lawyer questioned Jesus’ teaching. We can find some people doing similar things; rather than accepting Jesus as their Savior, they are questioning the Word of God. They are questioning the Bible because they think that it does not make sense or does not fit with today’s culture or does not fit with our mindset.

First issue from the lawyer is his intention. Another issue is the way he asked the question. He asked “what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”. He asked what he can do to inherit eternal life. It is really typical of Judaism during that time that they think they can get eternal life by doing religious performance.

I love how Jesus answered this question. 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” Basically, Jesus told the lawyer that “you are the expert of the law. You tell me”. Verse 27 And (the Lawyer) he answered, “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.” 28 And (Jesus) he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” Wait a minute. I thought we are saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus and not by our own efforts or works. But, now Jesus confirmed that there is another way to earn eternal life by loving God and loving our neighbors. Is it right that we can go to heaven by doing these – loving God and loving our neighbors? Is Jesus lying to the lawyer because he is afraid? The answer, off-course, is No, Jesus is not lying and yes, Jesus did mean that answer.

But doing these commandments is not that easy. This is one of the main problems when we read the scripture, we apply it based on our human standard. We straight away think that “ok, we should not miss Sunday Service to tick the first commandment and then we donate big money to homeless people to tick the second one”. But the love that God needs for us is perfect love; not just once or just on Sunday but all the time. God requires perfect love. God demands to love Him perfectly with our heart, soul and mind and strength. Who is able to do it in this world? No one.

One thing that we can learn here, our salvation is not based on keeping the law. Let me clarify one thing. I always think that the problem is the law. The law is bad. No, the problem is not the law itself but we are the problem. It is impossible for us to love God perfectly and to love others like we love ourselves. Jesus’ answer is a slap on the lawyer’s face. In other words, Jesus says to the lawyer “you know that your ‘system’ says that you can be saved by doing good works or keeping the law is rubbish. You can not have eternal life by keeping the law”. But not only stop there, Jesus also tries to say to the lawyer indirectly that if that system can not save you, you should ask yourself who can save me then? Find the one and run to Him.”

But at this point, if the lawyer has a humble heart, he would kneel down, ask for God’s help and His grace because he knows he is a sinful man and he will, for sure, fall short on fulfilling those commandments. But see what happened to the lawyer, instead of asking for forgiveness, in verse 29 it says that he tried to justify himself by asking Jesus another question, “And who is my neighbor?”.  It leads me to my second point – “Whom do I have to love?”

But before I go to my second point, we have to realize that some of us made the same mistake as the lawyer. We think that by doing religious activity, we can have eternal life. Many People make the same mistake today. They assume that they will get eternal life only if they do more good deeds than bad ones. That’s why they attend church every Sunday, they attend MC once a week, they join ministry. We do not want to make the same mistake as this lawyer. The question for all of us now is why are you here (in church)? What is the reason you are ministering today?

And, some of us, like the lawyer, know that Jesus is the only way to inherit eternal life, but we keep justifying ourselves. Instead of running hard to Jesus, we keep making excuses such as “it is ok, all religions are the same.” God’s word today teaches us to not run away from Jesus but run hard to Jesus.


29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Instead of praying for forgiveness, the lawyer challenged Jesus one more time – “Who is my neighbor?” or in other words, he tried to ask – “Whom do I have to love? We can not love everyone. For sure, we need to put the line. Certainly, this love is only for the people of Israel.” And, Jesus answered this question by telling this famous parable. Some of you are thinking that “We just touched the parable now. We just spent the last 15 minutes talking about not important stuff”. Not really, without digging deep in verse 25 to 28, we will understand the parable in the wrong context. And that’s how the world interprets this parable.

Jesus started the parable by telling a story about the first character in the parable which is a wounded man – verse 30 “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. Based on a few commentaries, this situation is basically the real situation that was happening at that time. The road between Jerusalem and Jericho is quite a dangerous road where there are a lot of robbers living in this area. This man was beaten and left half dead.

Then the story continues, 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. Then the priest and Levite, the temple assistant, were walking down along that road. Let me repeat again, first one is the priest who possibly just returned from performing holy service in the temple and second one is the Levites who also possibly just finished helping the priest in the temple. I know most of you know the whole story but if you imagine that those two people were possibly just performing holy service and they also know all the Law, we expect that they will help that wounded man but they did not. Why? Because they want to keep their ceremonial purity. The priest and Levite do not know whether the wounded man was dead or not. If the man was dead and they touched the dead body, it would defile their purity. So rather than risk their purity, he passed by on the far side of the road and avoided the wounded man. They do not care for the possibility that the man is still alive. They only care for themselves.

The next verse (verse 33), for me, is the coolest verse in this pericope. If you do not know, I love movies which have a bit of a twist. You thought the main character is a good guy but at the end, it showed that he is the main antagonist character. BOOM! It is like mind blowing. Same thing with this story. If I imagined myself as jewish people listening to Jesus was telling this parable. He started with the Priest and he passed by on the other side. I might be thinking – “Ok, Jesus wants to focus on his status as the priest” then Jesus continued with the levites. Same thing – “ok another one – the Levites – Jesus wants to show people their status did not mean anything.” As Jewish people, I may predict the next one will be the normal good jewish people who do not have any status pass by and help the wounded man. Therefore, I love verse 33. This verse is the twist of the parable.  It says verse 33 But a Samaritan. Not normal good jewish people but Samaritans. Who’s Samaritan? At that time, in view of jewish people, they may think that the Samaritans are the last person who might have been expected to help the wounded man. There is bitterness between Jewish and Samaritans. This fight has been happening for almost 400 years. The reason is in view of Jewish people, the Samaritans are not racially pure because they intermarried with Assyrian people while the Jewish kept their purity. So, when the jewish people know the “good guy” is a Samaritan, it is like a slap on their face. Maybe, no one expects that Jesus will bring the Samaritan into the story.

And this really throws their understanding of neighbor to the bin. The lawyer and other Jewish people may think that their neighbor is only their fellow Jewish. We are not called to love other people who have the same race as us or the same interest as us or similar to us or whom we are comfortable with. Our neighbors also include someone who seems like an enemy to us. Tim Keller summarized like this “We instinctively tend to limit for whom we exert ourselves. We do it for people like us, and for people whom we like. Jesus will have none of that. By showing a Samaritan helping a Jew, Jesus could not have found a more forceful way to say that anyone at all in need – regardless of race, politics, class, and religion – is your neighbour. Not everyone is your brother or sister in faith, but everyone is your neighbour, and you must love your neighbour.”

Many of us make the same mistakes as the lawyer and other Jewish. We limit our neighbor. We only love other people who are similar to us. We pick and choose our friend. We pick and choose people who come to our MC. We may say “Of course, I love my neighbors. Hm.. but not the one who has a bad background life. Not the one who does not like me. Especially, not the one who does not believe in Jesus.” Let’s be clear, those people are your neighbors. Love them.

I hope everyone has this feeling that there is a high standard of loving your neighbor. Firstly, our neighbor is not just our close friend but more than that. In the context of RSI, our neighbor is not just the person in our MC or person sitting next to us.  But it is also a person who sits by himself/herself at the back. Secondly, the commandment to love also has deeper meaning. It leads me to the last point of my sermon which is sacrificial love. It is important to understand what true love is.


When we love others, we often treat that as a project. We help them but inside our heart, we have a hidden motive. “I am helping you now but remember this in the future when I need your help, I am expecting you to come to help me”. “I am doing a random act of kindness to you now but please do not forget to post in your insta story so that people can see this”. Jesus explains about true love by telling what the Samaritan did in detail in verse 34 and 35.

The lawyer was already shocked with the introduction of Samaritan in the story but it did not stop there. The story continues in verse 34. What makes it worse for the Jewish people is that the Samaritans did not only stop and give quick help. He went the extra mile to help the wounded man. These are what he does to the wounded man; firstly, in verse 34, it says that instead of pass by and ignore, he went to him. Then he treated the man’s wound and bandaged him. Not only that. He did not bring a first aid kit so he used oil and wine to treat the wound. He placed the wounded man on his animals. It means he has to walk and then bring him to an inn. He did not just put him to an inn and leave. At the end of verse 34, it says that he took care of him. He gave two denarii coins. In some commentaries, two denarii coins are enough for 24 days of food. One month of wages. Not a small amount of money. Then in verse 35, it says that he paid the room in advance so that the man can stay in there and he will return to reimburse any expenses. Any expenses does not matter how much, the Samaritan will repay. Please do not get me wrong. I list all these actions. I do not mean to say that you have to do these things when you see people dying on the road. But Jesus wants to show to the people and to us that there is nothing else that the Samaritan could have done to help the wounded man as he already gives everything. This is what it means to love your neighbor like you love yourself. 

What does it mean to love your neighbor?

  1. When you see people in need, you do all you can. You do not pick and choose. We do not need to precisely define who our neighbor is. Whoever is in need, we need to help them. But at the same time we have to be wise in this topic. We can not give money to everyone who comes to you asking for money. It would be foolish for women to stop and pick up random men from the street. 
  2. Love your neighbors means that you love them without doing risk assessment. So often, when we see someone need help, our mind is calculating the risk. Will I get the reward when I help this man? Will my church know and give me a compliment? Will this news be in the church booklet? Does he deserve to get my help? Will it cost me anything such as time or money? We end up not doing anything because the final calculation shows “not worth it for my sake”. Love your neighbor means that we love them sacrificially. It is not about us or what we can get or whether any benefit for us.
  3. Love for your neighbors is always costly. The Samaritan helps genuinely and sacrificially. He paid the bill. Not only did he spend the money, he also spent his time. He gave the best treatment to the wounded man. He goes the extra mile. It might not be convenient for him, but he gave them generously.

In verse 36 and 37, Jesus closed this parable by asking to the lawyer  36 “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”. In verse 37, the lawyer answered “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” Did you realise that the lawyer did not even want to say the Samaritan but he said “the one who showed him mercy”.

When Jesus asks the lawyer which one is a good neighbor and He tells them to go and do likewise, Jesus asks a heart to heart question to the lawyer. This is basically what Jesus asks the lawyer, “what kind of neighbor you are? Are you a good neighbor like the Samaritan?” How about us? Have we been good neighbors to people in need? Do we still pick and choose when we want to extend our love to others? Many times, we are too busy determining the definition of “our neighbor”. Is he our neighbor that I should help? Probably the more important question is “are we good neighbors?”

At the beginning, I mentioned how the secular world uses this story to encourage people to do good deeds; helping people and being good people. In one sense, yes, it is true. We as believers are called to love our neighbors but with different motivations; not to be good people but to demonstrate the love of Christ to other people. When we show them our love to them, they can see the love of Christ. This is one thing that we need to remember – Our good deeds will not save us but people who are saved will practice good deeds.

Jesus tells this parable to show us that loving our neighbor like the Samaritan is something that is impossible for us to follow. If you read this parable and you say that “I am not a bad neighbor. I am close to Good Samaritan”, you are missing the main message of why Jesus shared this parable. Do you think we can love all people sacrificially like the samaritan in the parable? Impossible! Our heart is selfish. Instead of loving them, many times we got frustrated with them. That’s our human heart. It is impossible for us to love our neighbors naturally. We are not good neighbors. This parable shows us that we will fall short. We will never be able to do that. It means we will never be able to inherit eternal life.

Therefore we need the Gospel. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we can have eternal life. Jesus is not like the Lawyer. Jesus practices what He preaches. He is the only one who is able to love others perfectly. He is not our good samaritan. He is more than that. He does not only sacrifice His time or His money but He sacrifices His life for us. He not only comes from the other side of the road but He comes from heaven, from His perfection to this broken world to save us. Jesus is the true neighbor. We can be good neighbors to other people when we have experienced the love from our true neighbor; Jesus Christ. Our love to others is never original from our heart. It is a response to how Jesus loves us; He first loved us. He showed His love to us while we were still sinners. So, when we see others, we do not focus on the differences between us such as different preferences, different culture, etc. But when we look at other people, we see someone who has been through the same situation as us; we were dead in our sin but now we have been made alive. We are not better than them.


This parable teaches us to love our neighbor who basically everyone in this world including unbeliever or your enemy or people who you are not comfortable with. But, now let me talk specifically for us; RSI. We may think that because we are christian, we can love one another easily. We are not to immune from conflict.  But this story also shows how sinful and selfish we really are. We are just a bunch of righteous sinners. And loving others is hard especially to those who we do not like. It is hard to love others who just mistreated us or who just lied to us. Therefore we need Gospel in our life and in our community. We need to experience God’s love. We have to preach and remind the Gospel to us every single day.  When it is hard to love people you hate, remember how Jesus showed His love to us while we are still sinning against Him. When it is hard to extend forgiveness to them, remember how much Jesus has forgiven us.

Discussion questions:

  1. What comes to your mind when you think of “the good samaritan”?
  2. Luke 10:27 – And he answered, “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.” In your opinion, what does it mean to love your neighbour as yourself?
  3. According to Jesus, who is our “neighbour”? Is it consistent with our definition of neighbour? Why or why not?
  4. Look at the three ways we love our neighbour. Do what we can for people in need; Love without risk assesment; Costly love. Which one do you struggle the most with and why?
  5. How does the gospel empower us to be a good neighbour? 

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