Introduction

While Jesus is on earth, he is called the good teacher. The gospel records of many of his teachings. But we as Christians often forget the teaching of Jesus. In the gospel there were many things that Jesus had told us to do likewise.

Even though we often read of them  and hear them from our pulpit. We often find it difficult to practice what we have learn. That is mainly because we tend to focus and learn from the bad examples around us.

We know that there are good and bad people all around. They can be our friends, relatives, even church brothers and sisters. But who will we choose to follow? That is a choice we must make.

Let us be mindful that at the end of our lives. God will judge us for all that we do. That is why we need to listen to the word of God. Follow the good examples that are given. While Jesus was on earth, he gave us a few examples to follow and he encourage us to go and do likewise. Let us examine 2 of the stories today.

1. The Parable Of The Good Samaritan

(Extracted from Lk 10:36-37)

Jesus : “So which of these three do you think
                was neighbor to him who fell among 
                the thieves?”
Lawyer: “He who showed mercy on him.”
Jesus : “Go and do likewise”

This a parable that many Christians should be familiar with. it is the parable of the good Samaritan. In that story Jesus did not just praise the Samaritan for the good deed. He told each and everyone of us to go and do likewise.

In this post we will look at this parable. For Jesus was talking about 3 different type of people and three different attitudes in life.

The first group are the robbers. they are those who robbed the man and beat him up

The second group are the Levites and the Priests. They are the ones who know the word of God. They understood that it is their duty to help. They choose not to obey the truth, they went away, leaving the man injured on the road. 

The third group is the Samaritan. The Jews had little regard for the Samaritans. They viewed them as half Jews, unclean gentiles. But this man fear God and followed the word of God. He choose to help the man.

For he knew that if he were to fall among thieves. He would wish to get help from others. Since there is a man in need lying on the ground before him .Why not take the initiative and help him?

What will our choice be? who will we follow? Let us examine these 3 attitudes in life closer.

1.1 The Robbers Attitude.

The robber represented people who snatch and take things from others. Their motto in life is most likely “What is mine, is mine. What is yours, is mine as well”

They will do everything within their power to snatch from others. For they regarded those item as theirs. They felt that they have the right to take from others. They are without morals, using their fist as the truth. They build their happiness upon the sorrows of others. They built their achievement on the labour of others.

We often see such characters in our work place. They are the ones who does no work and seek recognition for the works of others. While everyone is celebrating their success, these are the ones who came to destroy that happiness.

Their behaviour are just like children. They are like children with toys and refuse to share them with others. But when they see others with better toys, they wanted to snatch it for themselves. When they did not get what they want, they make a scene and cry.

When they grow up, they develop the robbers mentality as they grow up. The only difference is that they no longer snatch toys. They ended up snatching up the jobs, wife , and possession of others.

1.1.1 Nipping The Problem At The Bud

These are the people who need to learn the words of God, they need to be lead into the right path. But today, many of us choose to remain silent, for we are afraid of troubles. As the result, we allow that evil to continue. Even though we feel sorry for the victim, we continue to insist that our children are right.

It is our choice that determines if our children becomes a preacher or a robber. Let us be mindful with what we teach and how we nurture our children.Perhaps today the things they are snatching are not valuable. But the consequences of allow that conduct is great.

For the bible tells us

“Do not rob the poor because he is poor,
  Nor oppress the afflicted at the gate;
   For the Lord will plead their cause,
  And plunder the soul of those who
  plunder them.” – The Wise (Prov 22:22-23)

Sometimes we wonder, why would one rob the poor? Wouldn’t the rich be a better target? But the truth is that the rich is often too powerful to be robbed, they can take action against those who robbed them. That is why many pick on the poor who had no protection. For these people are weak and unable to fight back. At the most they could only curse you for what you have done.

Just as the famous song from Abba reads “The winner takes it all, The loser has to fall”

But here the wise reminds us, that God will plead the case of the poor, one day he will judge and plunder those who plunder the poor. Let us not have the attitude of the robber. For God will judge us one day.

1.2 The Priest And Levite Attitude

The Levites and the priest represented those with a selfish attitude in life. Their motto in life probably sound like this, “What is yours is yours, and what’s mine is mine”. They keep everyone separated, nothing it related. They will often say “That is not my business”.

Such attitude is predominately found in Eastern culture. Sometimes it can be seen in Chinese culture as well. Being an ethnic Chinese, sometimes we are harmed by our own proverbs. We have many of such idioms and sayings, even though they sound like good advice, but in fact they are lacking in morals.  Ironically those are the proverbs we tend to follow.

Today when we want to help others, we may hear this comment.  “自扫门前雪, 莫管他人瓦上霜” (zì​ sǎo​ mén ​qián​ xuě​, mò​ guǎn tā ​rén​ wǎ​ shàng​ shuāng​). This phrase when translated literally reads. “You sweep the snow outside your door, do not bother about the frost on the roof of  others .

To put it simply, it means “Mind your own business, do not poke your nose on the business of others.

This is the advice we often here from our elders. We often regard them as good advice. On the surface it seems fair, for it is not our problem. But on occasion when we are hurt, we wish that someone would come and help us. At the very least, at least call in the ambulance for us.

Today if our house was broken into, and we saw our neighbours refusing to help. We would question them why did they choose not to help. But that is only fair as well, for if we cannot have the love to help others, we have no right to demand others to love us.

Sometimes in our modern world, we become like Priest and Levites. We refuse to care or to help others. Let us learn not to be selfish, let us be willing to help one another. For we never know when we would be in trouble and we need the help of others.  If we refuse to help those in need today, one day they will choose to ignore us when we need help.

That is why Paul reminds us

“We then who are strong ought to bear
  with the scruples of the weak, and not
  to please ourselves.
  
Let each of us please his neighbor for his
 
good, leading to edification. 
   For even Christ did not please Himself;
  but as it is written, “The reproaches of those
  who reproached You fell on Me.”””- Paul (Rom 15:1-3)

God had made some strong and some weak, some rich and some poor. There are those who are smart while there are also some who are slow to learn. No matter who we are, there will come a time when we need help from others. Let us be willing to help them first.

In the same way, today if we are in the position to help others. Let us provide our help. For God did not bless us so that we can boast about the blessing we receive. While it is fair for us to enjoy the blessing of God, let us remember to help those who are needy around us. Let us share the grace of God with them.

1.3: The Attitude Of The Samaritan

The attitude of the good Samaritan is the attitude that Jesus liked. Their motto in life is “What is mine is yours”.  They are willing to share what they have and help those who are in need. They are willing to do so because they had received blessings from God.

As they enjoy their blessing, they did not forget to share them with others.  Jesus once said “it is more blessed to give than to receive”. For one to keep receiving blessing, it would appear that he is blessed. For it look as if they have enough to last a life time.

There was a man who once asked his son, if he wants to give or to receive. The child replied, he wants to receive blessing from others. But the father reminded him,  only beggars receive from others all the time. We must learn to give for it is more blessed to give than to receive.

“There is one who scatters, yet increases more;
  And there is one who withholds more than is right,
  But it leads to poverty.
  The generous soul will be made rich,
  And he who waters will also be watered himself.” – Solomon (Prov 11:24-25)

Can we agree with this? Most says that if we give away, we will lose something. If we have 10 dollars, we give away 2 , we would only have 8 dollars left. This is true if we consider the things we have given away. 

But if we consider the blessings that we receive, the equation becomes not absolute. For God will see that we have given away and share his blessing. He will be willing to give us more.

For proverbs tell us

“He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord,
  And He will pay back what he has given.”-Solomon (Prov 19:17)

Indeed if we lend to the poor, it is like throwing cash into the sea. For we know that when we are in trouble, the poor cannot help us in the same way. That is only true if we expect to receive help from man, that is why we will become disappointed.

But the truth is that we ought to provide help without expecting anything in return. We provide help  because of our conscience. For we know that God had given us the ability to help. IF we know that the blessing came from God, we will be willing to share it with others. For we know that the grace of God will not stop.

We may have used up our cash, but the grace of God is ever flowing. The blessing of God is always enough.

1.3.1: The Child And The Beggar

There was a child who asked his dad for money to buy ice cream. On the way to the ice cream shop he saw an old beggar. The beggar said “Have pity on me, I have not eaten the whole day.”

The boy saw the beggar and have compassion. For he knew how hunger felt like. So he gave his only 2 dollar to the man, for he needs it more than him. When he return home, his father saw that he is without ice cream.

The father was curious so he asked the boy what happened. The boy told him about the beggar. The father was so happy, and he gave him 5 dollars. The boy was elated. he said “My teacher said that when you lend to the poor, God will pay you back. I did not expect God to pay up so quickly”

Let us learn to be like the Samaritan, let us take heed of the word of God. For Jesus tells us to go and do likewise.

2. Mary And Her Flask

“Let her alone. Why do you trouble her?
  She has done a good work for Me.
  For you have the poor with you always,
  and whenever you wish you may do them
   good; but Me you do not have always.
  She has done what she could. She has come
  beforehand to anoint My body for burial. 
   Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel
  is preached in the whole world, what this
  woman has done will also be told as a memorial
  to her.”- Jesus (Mk 14:6-9 )

Is Jesus telling us to praise Mary? No, even though Mary did a good work, she is not looking for the praises of man. Jesus wanted us to follow the example of Mary. What is this example?

There are many things we do that are good in the eyes of man. But which of these things are beautiful in the eyes of God? One thing we can be sure, the disciples did not regard the work of Mary as beautiful.

 But there were some who were indignant
  among themselves, and said, “Why was this
  fragrant oil wasted?”- Mark (Mk 14:4)

Many of them are upset as the perfume is worth 300 denarii. We often think only Judas was upset, but here it tell us that the other disciples are upset as well. For it is worth a lot of money and it is about a year wages. The flask would likely have looked like this.

(Source http://www.graceperfumes.net/)

 2.1. Seeing True Value

We often regard the monetary value of the gift we receive. Sometimes when we see one being elated over a simple gift, we become perplexed.  But the chinese too have an interesting saying that describes a simple gift.

“千里送鹅毛,礼轻情意重” (qiān​ lǐ ​sòng ​’é ​máo​, lǐ ​qīng ​qíng​ yì ​zhòng)

Translated. “To send a goose feathers over a thousand miles, its a light gift with heavy affection”

Indeed a gift may be simple and inexpensive. But let us remember the affection and love behind it. If we think from that perspective, than we would view the offering of Mary differently. ‘

2.2 Doing what Is Good From Gods Perspective

The disciples are upset, for they felt that it is a bad deed. For the perfume could be sold to help the poor. Jesus taught us to love the poor. It is the not something that is bad. But yet we see Jesus rebuking the disciples. He regarded the offering of Mary as good.

In a similar fashion, today we may try to do good, only to receive mockery and rebuke from those around us. But over here Jesus praised Mary for her work.  We need to consider, is our work good from the perspective of men or the perspective of God?

A good heart may produce a wrong action. Good intention doesn’t guarantees good action. A mother may love her child and accede to all their request. But such love bring harm to the child. For they will be spoilt.

We cannot say that just because we did something out of a good heart. It must be right before God. For our thoughts are limited, and our judgement is based on the standard of man. We cannot ignore the words of God and act out of a good intention. We need to ensure that the things we do are in accordance to the will of God.

 2.3 What Is So Beautiful About The  Action Of Mary?

We see that the offering of Mary is regarded as a bad deed by the disciples. The disciples felt that they are right and they attacked her openly. But Jesus defended her saying that it is a good work. What is so good about this work? Is there something wrong in helping the poor?

No, it is a good thing to help the poor, this is a teaching of Jesus . The important point lies in Verse 7

"For you have the poor with you always, 
and whenever you wish you may do them 
good; but Me you do not have always.”

Indeed there is not a lot of chance for God to appear in the form of man. Therefore one must seize the chance to serve him. Mary knew that Jesus is about to die as a  sacrifice for their sins. Even though she did no understand why Jesus had to die, but she believed him. That is why Jesus said “She did it to prepare for my burial”

This is a truth that the disciples were unable to understand at that point of time. The disciples only saw the poor and needy. They only saw their physical need and not their spiritual need.

Mary is able to tell for she had considered the words of Jesus. That is why she willingly broke her flask of ointment regardless of what others may say. She did not mind if they were mock her and make her life difficult.

For she is willing to break the flask and use the ointment to anoint Jesus. She could have keep back some of the ointment for herself, for the bottles had a small opening and she only need to poor a bit of it out. But Mary wanted to give it all to Jesus.  

Jesus understood the heart of Mary when she broke the flask. She had given all that she could offer. She could have kept some for herself, but she choose to give it all to Jesus.
That is why Jesus praised her and said it was a good deed.

Conclusion

Jesus said the same when he saw the widows offering her 2 copper mites. Her 2 mites were small compared to the generous amount of offering other gives, but Jesus valued her 2 copper mite just as he valued the 300 denarii perfume.

He valued them for he knew that they have given all they could for God. They are not here to prove their love of God before man. They wanted to give their all to God. Therefore God accepted their offering.

Today if we see the church in need, will we be willing to offer and to sacrifice? Today if the church requires someone to speak out and defend her when the truth is being challenge. Will we have the courage to speak out?

These are all things we ought to go and do likewise. May God give us this strength

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