Last time I set out an eight step process of looking at the Bible in a small group. I shared it with the Wednesday evening group at the Vicarage, as we came to the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-27. It was wonderful to discover how each member of the group was able to contribute some important insights and by the end we very much felt we had heard the Lord speaking to us. So here are my rough notes of that evening. Do read both the passage and these notes, and feel free to post your comments! And if you are free on any Wednesday evening, please join us at 7.30pm at the vicarage as we continue our epic journey through the gospel.
Pray Take a moment to be still, to recognise the presence of the Lord, and to leave your cares and concerns at the foot of the cross. What is it that you are expecting the Lord to do tonight? Are you ready to listen to His voice?
Read the passage. If members of the groups are using different versions, where are they similar? Where do they differ?
Most of us had the NIV. One member had a GNB so while in the NIV the expert in the law comes to “test” Jesus, in the GNB he is trying to “trap” him. Another had the Message so while in the NIV the man tries to “justify himself” in verse 29, in the Message he is “looking for loopholes”.
Set the scene No passage of the Bible stands on its own. How does it connect with what we read last time? How does it point forward to what we will be looking at next week? Where does this passage fit into the whole storyline of the Bible?
In Luke 11:2 Jesus tells His disciples to pray “Your kingdom come”. In chapter 10 we learn how we can help the kingdom of God to come about through: going out and sharing the good news (10:1-24); offering hospitality to Jesus; listening to Jesus (both in 10:38-42) and here through acts of compassion.
Interpret What type of passage are we looking at? Are we to take what we read literally, or are there figures of speech we need to understand?
This is a passage to be taken literally. Jesus tells the man a story to help him answer his own question. It is something simple and accessible, but the learned man is more interested in splitting hairs. There is a clear point to the story which is easily understandable.
Respond Is there anything about this passage that immediately strikes you? Are there any words or phrases you don’t understand? What questions would you like to ask the author of this passage?
Immediate reactions: The story shows the sort of dangers the seventy-two would face as they were sent out; the differences between Samaritans and Jews; the cost of following Jesus – it involves costly action, not just words; the emphasis Luke has throughout his gospel on the important role that outsiders play; the need to repent and believe; the fact that when Jesus teaches us something, we may not like the answer!
We thought to understand the passage better we would need to know more about these differences between Samaritans and Jews; the distinction between priests and Levites; why a dead body would be unclean.
We also wondered about the exact reason why the priest and Levite decided not to get involved. Perhaps it was a lack of compassion; perhaps a concern for their own personal holiness; perhaps a fear of the unknown (after all, there were robbers in the area) or perhaps they were uncertain whether the man lying in front of them was a Jew or Gentile. Whatever the reason, their response made the actions of the Samaritan all the more remarkable. He was compassionate, generous and unafraid of danger.
Discuss What is or are the main point(s) of the passage? Could you express it in your own words? What does this passage tell us about God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Is the passage addressed to us as individuals or to the people of God? What are we called to do in response to His word?
We found many important points from the passage. Jesus tells the expert in the law “Do this and you live”. So we thought about the role of the law. It shows us how to live, but also highlights why we fall short and why we need a Saviour. This led to an interesting discussion of who we are most like in the passage – the Pharisee, the Samaritan or the body lying in the road?
This passage also challenged us to realise that our faith is not about us, but about what we can do for others. We are not to our religion above the need to help others, or allow ourselves to get tied up in religious knots. Nor where there is an obvious need should we pass the task on to others, or think we are too holy for others. The evidence of our love for God is shown in the love for our neighbour. God is all powerful and He sent Jesus to help us. We need to show that help to others.
Apply How does what we have just read apply to our own daily lives? How does it apply to the life of the church?
The expert in the law wanted to know who was his neighbour. Jesus told him to be a neighbour. But he looked for loopholes instead. We need to be a neighbour to others. On a church level that means at the most simplest level making time for each other so that we can understand and respond to each other’s needs, and not making excuses not to get involved.
Pray that the Lord would write His words on our hearts, and that we would return with a testimony of how we have seen the Lord at work through all that we have learnt tonight.