“And he fell among robbers…” Chapter 1

Seeing the man half-dead alongside the road whose blood was screaming up from the ground, “Murder! Robbery! Evil!” the startled Samaritan felt moved with compassion. But he didn’t become that famous neighbor, the Good Samaritan until he stepped over to help the fallen man.

By the same token, the priest, who came by just before the Samaritan, became a non-neighbor when he passed by on the other side. Perhaps he thought to himself,  “There nothing to see here. I’ve got more important things to do.” His compassion had been buried long before by revered, rigid systems of schooling, scholarship, standing, status, and strength.

Sadly, the well-born  man of the priestly religious tribe who walks by next is also a non-neighbor. He too passes by on the other side with typical non-thoughts:  “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’ key followers are all “going along” with him.  Now, Jesus isn’t just telling them a nice story about the good Samaritan. Now, Jesus is teaching them, by his own lifestyle, how to listen, see, and do. They are his disciples, his learners, learning his ways.  He is with them to send them. (Mark 3:14)

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.” (John 3:8)

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 tracked-up and task driven by our rules, or listening up and led by Jesus’ Voice of love? “And, they took note of them, that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)

“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.

Jesus’ told the story about, the Samaritan (“The Good Samaritan“) and how he heard, saw, turned, and entered “in, into” the hurting world of the beaten man lying half-dead alongside the dangerous Jericho road. Now, in real time, just outside of the village of Bethany, about a mile up the hill from Jerusalem, Jesus is himself entering “in, into” a certain village. He is modeling the Good Samaritan in Real Life.

Jesus wants his disciples 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.” It’s as if he is saying,  I am always entering “in, into” a living, streaming, very present relationship my Father. We are constantly communicating, connecting and co-operating—“in” and “into” Real LIfe. “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me.” (Matthew 11:29)

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.” (John 14:12)

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. We translate that, 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! Let’s get “in, into” it!  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 gain peace and serenity. Certain of airplane safety statistics passengers climb in, bucket up, eat, read, visit and take naps.

Uncertainty, opens the door to anxiety. In this certain episode, Jesus teaches us a new form of certainty. Not rigid, it is fluid, flexible, and full of faith.

Jesus enters “into a certain village.”  The “certain village” , is not named (other Scripture identifies it as the village of Bethany). Perhaps we learn to focus on the certainty that Jesus was always led to “certain” places, situations and people regardless their names. It becomes less about where we are and more about our holy certainty in each “certain” moment and place regardless of it’s status or the lack thereof.

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 doctors who expertly practice, we become practitioners of holy listening, looking, and learning in each certain place.

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 can become arrogant, complacent,or bitter unless we embrace the live joy of listening and seeing like Jesus did in each certain moment.

Here’s the Good News! The same Spirit who streamed through Jesus’ earthly life streams through us for seeing, hearing, healing and delivering today. We become Christian existentialists—alive, present, and responsive.

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 “to be” somewhere today and that, no matter how much we ponder and plan, we don’t know the specifics until they present themselves.  We begin having a certain certainty about this and find rest from striving.

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 (Malachi 3:16)!

Do you ever hear people longing to be somewhere else and bad-mouthing where they are today? Contentment looks and listens with holy certainty into our present place and we sing, “This, is the day!” Lust, covetousness and discontent long to be elsewhere.

Let’s listen, look, and learn to be in the certain place and declare it “holy ground” as with Moses, we take off our shoes and stay a while. We breathe, cease from striving, resting in our 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! Stand on holy ground. Certainly!

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

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

Martha eagerly welcomes Jesus into her home. She has no idea that she is the “certain woman” of God’s focus. In fact, she is certain her sister, Mary, is the one who needs some work done.

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, named Martha.”

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 both. 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 both sexes, and as of late, women’s, long before it become modern day cause. Today is the day of the “certain woman, named Martha. Papa God is seeing to it, through Jesus his son.

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.

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 means “takes charge” and 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. Jesus models God’s “take charge” style on earth.

Martha’s story follows right after the (Good) Samaritan’s 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 that person—broken and beaten and left to die. The good news is, Papa God does know  her. He knows that her abilities to welcome and take charge are the very robbers that beat, rob, and strip 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 to miss this and to pass by on the other side. It’s easy to miss seeing 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. And soon, to the devil’s disappointment, Jesus will swoop in to help her by healing 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 this dusty planet.

Good News! Papa and Jesus are entering into our homes too. At our own invitation—like Martha—whether we know it or not. Thank you, Martha, for inviting him in.

“Welcomed him…” Chapter 6

“Welcomed him….” Luke 10:38

Martha, the Welcomer.

Jesus didn’t have to wonder if he was welcome at Martha’s house. He could see her running up the street towards him waving and joyfully calling out “Welcome! Welcome!” Martha’s name meaning includes hospitality and, accordingly, her house is indeed hospitality house.

However, and for all of that, we know that Martha’s house of hospitality is not yet a house of peace. Anxiety lives there. But, thank God, its time is short, for  Peace, who also goes by the name, Jesus, has just walked in the door.

Still, for Jesus, peace doesn’t necessarily mean tranquility. As Jesus enters this house the fight announcer calls out, “Let’s get ready to rumble!” Martha is going to witness an infuriating, and, in turn, humiliating division.  Jesus often let’s us discern the divisions so that we will then be submissive to his gift of holy peace. ‘My peace, I leave with you.  My peace, I give unto you,” Jesus says, “Not as the world gives give I unto you.” (John 14:27)

“Welcomed him…” In the original Greek text the word means to “welcome under.” It is an authority word indicating that Martha is the head of the house. She exercises her authority and takes responsibility for his experience when she welcomes Jesus under her roof and into her house. [1]

Yes, Martha, the Welcomer, invites Jesus inside! Little did she know what this would mean for her, that it would rock her world and throw her out of control. She is our prototype, of our own spiritual surprises that join with Jesus. She shows what happens to any of us who “welcome him” inside.

We will remember her prototype-gift-for-us later, when we see her lose control, get furious, shame her sister, and scold Jesus, all the while feeling quite indignant and self-righteously assured. We will refrain from any offense against her as we recognize our own “violent sins” against people we say we love including Jesus himself.

In meekness we will consider ourselves lest we also be tempted. We will be ever-mindful of Martha’s great desire to welcome and all the efforts and risks it brought along in its wake. And we will remember that Jesus especially “loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” (John 11:5). Blessed is prototype Martha among women!

Martha is the center of this story although not in the way she was hoping. As mentioned earlier, she may think that the person who needs to be dealt with sternly by Jesus is Mary and certainly not herself. Like us, she wants Jesus to be pleased and she is putting all of her skill and strength into making that happen no matter what.  Of course, that’s when her will will slam head-on into God’s will and teach us about the willfulness of our will.

The Lord taught us to pray, “Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom come, and Thy Will be done.” It is the perfect prayer for us because we, that is our natural-self secretly loves to pray our own prayer:

“My Name be hallowed! My Kingdom come! And, My Will be done!”

Its is a very sneaky, silent prayer. It make take years for us to even hear ourselves praying it. But pray, want, and insist on it we do, and that’s where our battles rage.

James asks, “Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it. You wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not? Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to. You’re spoiled children, each wanting your own way.” (James 4:1–3, The Message)

Let’s not kid ourselves. Our old self is a ravenous wolf clothed in sheep’s clothing, a wild ass, an unbridled horse. It does not like God, or God’s ways, no matter how nice it pretends to be or how religious it acts. It is watching and waiting to pursue, pounce, and over-power. It crouches at the door to regain or retain control.

It is sophisticated and clever, coaxing, cajoling, and conning us to rationalize that we can have it both ways–our will and God’s will getting done. The result is that, like Martha, we do it our way and don’t even know we’ve crossed way over the line and are actually fighting Jesus!

Our old mind is hostile to God, and not just a little hostile, it hates God’s way and is opposed to God. Be careful of its clever sheep clothes. It really wants to devour your new-spirit-person. “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:7–8, ESV)

The good news is Jesus loves Martha and has no condemnation for her. Even after her upcoming outburst he gently shows her the way, the truth, and the life

[1] Vincent, M. R. (1887). Word studies in the New Testament (Vol. 1, p. 357). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.