“And he fell among robbers…” Chapter 1

Seeing the man half-dead alongside the road and hearing his blood scream from the ground, “Murder! Robbery! Evil!” the startled Samaritan stirs with compassion. He becomes the neighbor when he steps toward the fallen one.

Tragically, the priest who came by just before the Samaritan became a non-neighbor. He is passing by on the other side. Nothing to see here. Got things to do. Systems of schooling, scholarship, standing, status, and strength swept compassion away long, long ago.

Sadly, the well-born  man of the  priestly religious tribe is also a non-neighbor. He too is passing by on the other side. Nothing to feel here. Not my problem. Things to do. Places to go. Duty calls. No looking back.

The Samaritan is becoming the neighbor. While arriving as the other two did, at the same place on that road, for him everything is different.

He sees. He feels. He acts. He heals. Touching the bloody human, binding up the wounds, pouring his own precious oil and wine into the stranger’s pain – love is happening. Professional plans step aside. Personal safety waits in line. Generosity and patience ascend. Time is lavished on the broken vessel.

Lifting the dirty, beaten, bloody stranger onto his own animal this half-breed, despised, Samaritan leads a triumphal procession of his own along the road to an inn somewhere. And – since there are no shouting children singing praises – the rocks cry out to heaven in songs only angels hear, “Hosanna in the Highest! And on earth, Peace and Goodwill.”

The Samaritan continues to concern himself with the helpless man. Concern. Not anxiety. No worry. His calm, non-anxious, presence carefully tends to the messy man.

Did the Samaritan know the innkeeper? Did the innkeeper know him? Some how a deal was struck – all on behalf of the wounded, robbed, forsaken neighbor. “All expenses paid when I return!”

“Deal!” Agrees the trusting innkeeper.

“Which of the three,” Jesus asks, “do you think showed that he had become and continued to be a neighbor to the man who had fallen among robbers?”

“The man who showed mercy!”

“Yes! Now go and do that too!” Jesus said.

That’s the way it is.

Everyone falls among robbers. Everyone get beaten, stripped, robbed and left half-dead.

Everyone has a neighbor. Everyone gets to be a neighbor. Jesus calls love the greatest commandment:  Love God. Love yourself. Love your neighbor. It is the command commanding all commandments!

This is a story about loving our neighbors – seeing one and being one – as we are going along the way.

I see you. I am stopping. I am binding your wounds. I am pouring in oil and wine. I am lifting you up to go on a ride with me on this dear beast named, My Life, to the inn that has room for you.

You can simply – Rest. Wonder. Grieve. Hope. Rage. Remember. Forget. Listen for love. It is here with you now. Receive. Believe. Life Lives!

“In their going along…” Chapter 2

“In their going along…” (Luke 10:38)

Workaholics, and others like us, get anxious and concerned about failed plans, the lack of a plan, and that things aren’t getting done fast enough or well enough. Ironically, we may run at cross-purposes to God when we try to control life, people, and plans too much. We can accidentally squeeze God out and play God ourselves — all in God’s name.

Sadly, because of our own agenda, we may miss the very opportunity that is in front of us as we are going along. The priest, going along the Jericho road and seeing the half-dead man, chooses to pass by on the other side. His agenda-driven choice made him a non-neighbor.

The priest is on task. He is not just not going along, he is on a mission to Jerusalem where he will carefully perform high and holy priestly duties. He is a respected expert. He knows exactly when to kneel, stand, pray, and how to offer up the sacrifices. He has his professional plan down pat, so, to stop and help a bleeding man along the way would make him unclean and unfit for his holy duties. He blocks out the groans and cries and presses on.

Sadly, the priest needs no live, local, late breaking inner guidance. He hears no voice as he is going along. He is prepared and intentional. His culture, religion, and education have provided everything.

Everything that is, except seeing and hearing and doing. No matter how well the priest knows, preaches, or teaches; no matter how great he prays, dresses, kneels, chants, lights lamps, and sings; no matter how sage his counsel to those who revere him — in his going along he fails to be a neighbor. Tragic.

Jesus asks, What good is all that great performance if you only do it for the ones you like? Big deal. Everyone does that! Pimps, politicians, potentates, preachers, parishioners, prisoners, police, are usually neighborly to their own friends. So what?

Jesus praises the Samaritan who stopped, as he went along, and became a neighbor. Later, Jesus’ own earthly life would be summarized same way: “He went about doing good…” (Luke 10:38)

Now Jesus’ followers and are all “going along.” Jesus isn’t just telling them a nice story about the good Samaritan. Jesus is teaching them by his own lifestyle how to listen, see, and do.

Jesus once told Nicodemus, the teacher who was trying to understand Jesus, The wind blows wherever it wants to; its presence can be seen and heard; but wherever it comes from or wherever it goes is mystery. So is everyone who is born of the spirit of God.

Born of that wind Jesus sees what his Father is doing and does the same. He hears what his Father is saying and says that. Now, with and for his learners, Jesus reveals his way of going along and doing good.

Now they are going along, and so are we, to that next opportunity. Are we locked up and task driven or listening up and led by love?

“Jesus entered in, into…” Chapter 3

“Jesus entered in, into a certain village…” (Luke 10:38)

Does your life sometimes seem aimless, boring, frustrating or meaningless? Are you just going along for the ride? Have you lost your passion for living? Do you feel anxious and uneasy?

Good News! Jesus shows us the way out and, then, the way “in, into” real life! Just as Jesus is led “in, into a certain village,” so he leads us “in, into” certain places, situations, and opportunities.

Rock star, Ricky Martin sings, “Livin’ la Vida Loca,” the Crazy Life! Jesus sings a different song, “Livin’ la Vida Real,” the Real Life! Now he is living within us and teaching us how to listen, see, and follow our heavenly Father, just as he did, “in, into” the Real Life.

Jesus’ deep desire to follow his Father empowered him to dismiss all the mean, ugly words and nasty, vicious treatment that came his way. Everything centered around the day when he would again enjoy sitting at the right hand of his Father in heaven. Meanwhile his only concern was staying connected to what his Father wanted him to do while he walked with us down here.

As Jesus’ story hero, the Samaritan heard, saw, turned, and entered “in, into” the hurting world of the half-dead man so now, just outside of the village of Bethany, about a mile up the hill from Jerusalem, Jesus entering “in, into” a certain village. Like his Samaritan, Jesus is hearing, seeing, and entering.

Jesus wants us to enter “in, into” this Samaritan-Jesus style Real Life too!  He teaches, Whatever I see my Father doing I do that. Whatever I hear my Father saying, I say that. I do nothing on my own. I am always entering “in, into” a living, streaming, very present relationship my Father. We are constantly connecting and working together.

About us, Jesus adds, Whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do and even greater works than these, because I am connecting you to my Father through the Holy Spirit.

So now, we are in a holy union with Jesus and our Father and the Holy Spirit. In them we live and move have our being. Now we also get to hear and see and then enter “in, into” the certain “villages” of circumstances, people and encounters. Nothing is too small, nothing is a waste. All things are being brought together for good.

Always now you can know that your Father, Lord Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are shepherding, repenting, returning and restoring your soul. They are leading you in paths of righteousness. Jesus Holy Spirit will help you confirm that you are hearing his voice as one of his own sheep and you will not follow a stranger. Jesus will lead you out and “in, into.”

About Jesus, the Greek text literally reads, “he entered into, into a certain village.” The double “into, into” is correct Greek grammar. Jesus went “in, into” with assurance that his Father was leading him. He is now growing that same assurance “in, into” us!

This is the Good News! La Vida Real! Accept no boring, empty, meaningless substitutes. Adios, la Vida Loca!

“A certain village…” Chapter 4

“A certain village…” (Luke 10:38)

Certainty reduces anxiety. Certain they are going to die, the terminally ill often become peaceful and serene. When we are uncertain we are open to anxiety. In this certain episode, Jesus teaches us a new form of certainty. It is not rigid but fluid, flexible and full of faith.

Jesus enters “into a certain village.” (Luke 10:30) The “certain village,” Bethany, is not named. Perhaps omitted to focus on the certainty that Jesus was always led to “certain” places, situations and people regardless of the specific village or place. It then becomes less about where we are and more about our certainty in each “certain” moment.

Certainly, we are led into certain places every day— to school, work, or the market on errands and assignments. Even if we find ourselves confined to bed due to illness, certain others are led our way. Our certain opportunity is to see and hear in those moments. Like the doctor’s practice, we practitioners of holy listening, looking, and learning in each certain place and encounter.

When we are in certain places every day for years—the same house, kitchen, office, desk, car or village – our practice can lose its edge. We become arrogant, complacent or bitter unless we embrace the live joy of listening and seeing like Jesus did in each certain moment. Good news! The same Spirit who streamed through Jesus’ earthly life streams through us for seeing, hearing, healing and delivering today.

This is revolutionary! Following Jesus has little to do with our place, possessions, or position. It has everything to do with our certainty that the Holy Spirit of Jesus is leading us; that Jesus’ voice is speaking to us, his sheep, and that as he assures us, we will follow. We become increasingly certain that Father God is working every detail together for his good plan and purpose. Certain that, we are his opus through which he is creating good works prepared in advance through us in Christ Jesus. Our joy is the certainty that those good works are occurring whether we think we are having a good day or not. We are certain that “this is the day” he is perfectly organizing!

Like Jesus, we know we are going somewhere today and that, no matter how much we ponder and plan, we don’t know the specifics. In this certain situation in this “certain village” with this “certain woman” named Martha and her sister, Mary, the specifics of what happens next are so profound that they get recorded in the Holy Scripture! We can be certain that the events of our lives matter just as much and are being placed in God’s eternal Scriptures for everlasting use and glory!

Do you ever hear people longing to be somewhere else and bad-mouthing where they are today? Contentment looks and listens into our present and certain place. Lust, covetousness and discontent long to be elsewhere.

Let’s listen, look, and learn to be in the certain place. It is holy ground. Take off your shoes. Stay a while. Breathe. Cease striving. Rest in your so infinitely “certain” and secure God!

As musician, Steven Stills sings, “If you can’t be with the one (job, person, opportunity) you love, Honey, love the one you’re with.” And let God do the rest! Certainly!

“A certain woman, named Martha…” Chapter 5.

“And a certain woman, named Martha…” (Luke 10:38)

Martha eagerly welcomes Jesus into her home having no idea that she is the “certain woman” of God’s focus.

Papa God is working all things together for good. He is a very present God, actively engaging his loving, healing heart toward certain places, people and situations. In this case toward this certain woman.

Women and men. There is no difference in God’s eyes. Religions and cultures of all kinds have twisted and perverted the rights, roles and relationships of women. But let’s not blame Papa God for this. His kingdom of righteousness, joy and peace in the Holy Spirit has been seeking the well-being of women long before it become modern day cause. Today is Martha’s day and Papa God is seeing to it.

Did Jesus know this yet?  Probably not. He laid his all-knowing almighty God-powers aside when he came down here to earth and began walking by faith. Our very human Lord Jesus Christ, who shines for God, gives us hope to walk by faith and shine for God as well.

If Martha had known that she was the “certain woman” she might have bolted the door, shuttered the windows and hung out a “Gone Fishing “ sign instead of welcoming Jesus into her home. But, not knowing, Martha, steps out boldly, takes initiative and gets the welcoming work done. There’s no grass growing under her feet and no waiting around. Martha takes charge.

Martha’s very name “takes charge.” It means, hostess, with a root meaning of lord or master. Maybe that’s why taking charge comes so easily for her. And that is the very thing that her own master, Papa God, is about to temper and mold after the image of his dear son, Jesus.

Martha’s story follows the Samaritan story here in Luke’s Gospel. The difference is that her story is real. Jesus is “the Samaritan” and Martha is “the person who fell among the robbers.”

The catch is, Martha doesn’t know she’s the broken and beaten one. The good news is, her Papa God does know. He knows that her abilities to welcome and take charge are the very robbers that have beating, robbing her, stripping her of the abundance Papa God intends for her. Now he is sending Jesus in, into her own home, to save her.

It is easy for us miss this and to pass by on the other side. It’s difficult to see her bruises since society typically applauds and admires her kind as a great asset to the community.

But Papa God isn’t fooled. His loving heart and tender eyes see a woman lying beaten, bound and broken in the midst of all her activity and leadership. Papa God is now showing this to Jesus. Then, to the devil’s disappointment, Jesus will swoop in to help and heal her innermost being.

Our dear Papa Father is infinity interested in this “certain woman.” Jesus, his wonderfully obedient son, watches for and carries out Papa’s work, will and good pleasure down here on our dusty planet.

Good News! Papa and Jesus are entering into our homes too. At our own invitation—like Martha!