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33. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
34. And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
If you wanted to look in the Scripture that you would find the word ‘mercy’ used so many, many times that it’s almost innumerable. It would probably take a computer concordance to count them throughout the Bible and do it accurately. We have a God of mercy, and if there is any one great thing that we can usually thank Him for first of all, it is for His gracious mercy. The Scriptures are filled with references to mercy and to a God of mercy. One of those special places where it is mentioned in a very special way is in Romans, chapter 12 where Paul gives a list of gifts of the Spirit in that chapter. He talks about prophesying and other gifts. Then he also mentions ‘…he that showeth mercy, let him do that cheerfully, diligently.” It would appear that among the great gifts of the Spirit is this spiritual gift, this special kind of gift that God places upon certain individuals in the body of Christ to have a special leading to show mercy to people. People who have this gift very seldom condemn others. They very seldom are harsh, but they always look upon the needs of people wherever they may be and whatever condition and situation they are in and they go to them to bring mercy. I think it is a God-given gift. Paul also lists it as a fruit of the Spirit, along with gentleness, love and so on. That kindness and gentleness makes up what we are calling mercy here. It should be a natural out-growth of the Christian. At the same time, there are some who are moved on in a very special way to perform acts of mercy.
I want us to look at this person tonight called the Good Samaritan. I know this is a big story and I’m not going to tell the whole story. I’m not going to go into the background, the setting, and the theological background even though Jesus was striking hard at a cold, hard systematized religious system that no longer could feel and no longer minister to people when He referred to the Levites and when He referred to the priests and others that had no mercy upon this man who was fallen. He was letting us know as He did in many, many ways in the gospels, that when religion gets to the place that it is just something that we serve and support that it is no longer a movement of God’s grace and power that serves people. There is something dreadfully wrong with a religious system like that. He used the illustration of the old wineskin that could hold no new wine. There was nothing new and nourishing for people, but it was just the old skin, the form that was left there empty and could not contain the new wine of Christianity that He was trying to bring to Judaism. So, often He struck out very hard at the old religious system of Judaism that no longer had mercy, no longer had help, no longer would minister to people. This was an unusual kind of thing when He said a Samaritan did. This let the Jews know that there would be others that would take up where they had left off, where they had pushed aside responsibilities and pushed aside their interests and their love for people. There would be others who would come and take their place and perform ministry of mercy. Out of what this man did, I want us to look at some special ways you can tell mercy, some manifestations of mercy. We all know about the manifestations of God’s mercy in our behalf. When I start to pray, the first thing I thank God for is His mercy. Here are some signs, some manifestations of what it means to have the ministry of mercy.
First of all, it means that we see people who are fallen and who are hurt and who are wounded and who are half dead and who are in a condition where they can’t really help themselves at that moment. Now I believe this has to do with both physical and spiritual needs of people. Seeing people is the first step. Some people are blind to people who are in need. They never, never see them. Here is a man who saw this person. He came close enough to actually take a look and examine and see. That’s what it means when it says he saw him. He came and took time to examine his condition and see where he was and see that he was hurting and wounded and had been attacked. That is the first step in showing mercy. It is a dreadful thing to be attacked, to be suffering, to be hurting and people act as if they are unaware and don’t seem to notice and go on their way. I know as a pastor for many years, there were times in my own life when I seemed to be so busy and so preoccupied with so many things that there were times I missed understanding somebody who was hurting and was trying to talk to me and tell me something. It was later that the Holy Spirit would bring it to my mind and would say that person needed your understanding and your prayers and your comfort and your help, and you gave them the light touch and the light treatment. Have you ever been convicted of something like that? When the Lord convicts you of passing by somebody, that will cut you to the heart and will help you to start thinking about how you missed it and how you can make it up and how you can minister to that person. The first characteristic of this person who has this ministry of mercy is that he sees it. He looks at it long enough to see what’s there, to see the trouble, to understand and not just guesses at it and goes on.
Not only does he see the condition, but he also is moved with compassion. This Samaritan was filled with compassion. I have talked to you about compassion from the book of Luke several times and I have learned – I want to emphasize it more – that when you are moved with compassion, I don’t think you are ever any closer to God than when He moves upon you with compassion and love. I don’t think you are ever any closer to God’s power, healing, blessing power than when you are moved upon with compassion because that is God’s great signal that ‘I am wanting to reach out in love and mercy to that person and I want to minister to them through you. Now if you will open your heart and if you yield yourself, now is the time to show mercy and understanding and to minister the mercy of God’s love and grace.’
The next thing I see in this story is that when he saw and was moved with compassion, he went directly to the person. He didn’t pass by like others; other very religious people, other people who were in a hurry to reach an appointment or some goal.
This reminds me of the story of where they were trying out some young men to preach. They had assigned each one of the young men to preach on this subject of the Good Samaritan and the man who had fallen. They had them in a special room in a building and they had to walk across a little alley and go in the side door of the church and step right in to the pulpit and begin to preach. The only thing was, in that alley every one of them had to pass by a person who was down and out and hurting and was made up to look like he was hurt and injured and suffering. They wanted to see if these preachers-to-be would stop and show mercy and minister to the needs of the person. Strangely enough, they each one walked right on by because they were in a hurry to go and preach about mercy.
I’m saying to you it’s a lot easier for me to get up here and preach about it than it is for me to live it out and act it out. It is a lot easier for us to talk about it than it is for us to allow God to work through us. But this man went directly to the hurting man. He got down on his knees beside him. He began to talk to him. He began to find out what’s wrong. Oh hallelujah!
You see, behind all this story of course, is Jesus, the Lovely Lord who shows mercy and He comes to us when we are in horrible conditions of sin to rescue us. He comes down on our level. Oh, if we could testify tonight of where Jesus brought us from. When I look back on it and think of His wonderful mercy and where He brought me from, it touches me to my very soul that He would show such mercy and come down, stooped down to such a level to reach where we were. I like that old song – sing it with me, “When my Savior reached down for me, when He reached way down for me, I was lost and undone without God or His Son, when He reached down His hand for me.” Yes, I was near to despair when He spoke to me there. What a song! Whoever wrote that song knew what the mercy of God was like and knew what it was like to come with great power and the ability to do something about it. The person who has the ministry of mercy reaches down, gets on the level where the person is hurting, is willing to touch him and find out what’s wrong and is able to help.
Strangely enough, people who have this ministry and especially the gift of mercy, they are always equipped. God seems to prepare them and equip them to be able to do something when they get there. Oh, praise God! I like that, don’t you? If God wants to use you to help get somebody healed, He is going to equip you along the way and talk to your heart and inspire you and get ahold of you, anoint you. If God wants you to be merciful to somebody who is in need physically, financially or some other way, He is going to prepare your heart. You are going to be ready when the time comes. You never know when He is going to speak to you in a special way and say, “This is the one. This is the person.”
I already talked to you once before on mercy in this series in Luke and it seems to be flowing out of this great book almost everywhere you look. So, here is what the man did. He was ready. He started binding up the wounds. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Have you ever bound up somebody? Have you ever had somebody to bind you up? Hallelujah!
I hear the message of Ezekiel crying out against the wicked prophets of Israel and saying, “You haven’t sought for my sheep and you haven’t bound up the brokenhearted. You haven’t healed the diseased. Some of them have been driven away and you haven’t brought back the ones who had wandered away and the ones who were driven away. But with force and cruelty you have ruled them.” What an indictment against the shepherds of Israel that the prophet Ezekiel brings in Ezekiel 34. You should read that sometime soon and see what the actual work of the shepherd really is when you look at this ministry of binding up broken hearts, binding up people who are wounded.
Then he pours in healing balm. He pours in oil and wine. He pours in wine for cleansing. The eastern world is filled with examples and illustrations of how people used to use the wine to cleanse wounds and then pour in oil for soothing and healing after the wound has been bound up. There is some wonderful cleansing that you and I can bring to people who are fallen and who are hurting and who are wounded. There is the oil of the Holy Spirit that is the greatest balm that Gilead has ever known. It brings power and it brings soothing. How many of you have ever been troubled, about to panic and have the Holy Spirit to come over you like a healing balm and put your heart and mind at ease and you could rest in God? That’s one reason why everybody in the whole world ought to have the baptism of the Holy Ghost. They ought to have this glorious access to the healing balm of the Spirit, that oil and joy and gladness that comes in to bring soothing healing.
People who have the gift of mercy not only bind up and help cleanse and help heal and help soothe and help comfort, but they also get involved with something other than just the light touch. They do some follow-up. Most people that are delivered out of sin or any bondage of any sort, it’s hard for them to make it on their own right away. Most people who are delivered from bondage need help to be able to get their feet planted on the rock and be able to stand when the problems and troubles really come. That’s where the mercy of the whole church and every one of us is really involved, being able to reach our arms out to people and show that love and mercy and say to them, ‘I am ready to walk this road with you until you have a steady pace – until you can stand in faith.’
I know that is totally contrary to our society today. These are the days when we shun involvement with people because we don’t want to get too loaded down and too filled with cares and with too many people. Sometimes we’re like the disciples. When this woman who had a demon possessed child came to them and they said ‘Lord, send her away. She’s crying after us.’ The church is always on the spot when there are crying people who are crying after you. The ministry of mercy reaches out instead of trying to get rid of the problem. I think one of the sins of the modern church worldwide is that we go seeking for the people who have got it made and who will be able to support and contribute to the church and who will not be any liability. Is that too hard? I think about when John was in prison and sent word to Jesus and said, ‘Are you the one or do we look to another?’ And one of the great characteristics that he mentioned as far as his authenticity as the Messiah was the poor have the gospel preached to them. People who have the ministry of mercy and they have the gift of mercy as this man did, they get involved long enough to see about the person and see that their feet get on solid ground and their life gets cured and healed and shaped up. It is not easy. It is not easy. I have walked the road with alcoholics for months before they got on solid ground. I have dealt with people who had family troubles for weeks and months before they finally got on solid ground. Anybody who has been a Christian very long knows what it is like to be burdened about your loved ones and friends and people who have trouble. You know what it’s like to feel like you are about to have complete relief and take a vacation from the burden, it seems like it suddenly falls in on top of you and it gets a lot heavier. We know what that’s like. The ministry of mercy somehow reaches up and receives new help and new strength from the Lord or else we couldn’t do it, and goes on to reach the people who are hurting.
This Good Samaritan shows us these great characteristics of what a person who does the ministry of mercy is really like:
He SEES people. He is not blind to them. This causes him to have COMPASSION upon them in their need.
Then he GOES directly to them. He doesn’t shun. He binds up. Sometimes it doesn’t take anything but words to bind somebody up. It is so easy. It ought to be so easy for us to use healing words. Sometimes just healing words and healing prayers are like the new wine and the oil of the Spirit.
Then he PROVIDES for that person to have a future. He did not leave him to die, but he provided for him to have life and have a future. Aren’t you glad Jesus did that for us? I want to stop here to allow us time to have prayer together. If there is anybody here who is hurting, who may have been wounded by an attack from Satan, I want to tell you that the mercy of our gracious Lord fills this house now and fills the saints of God. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! You come now if you want prayer and we will pray with you.
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