Sermon for Saturday

And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. Luke 10:31,32

I had heard the story of the Good Samaritan before and always wondered why the priest and Levite would leave the wounded man without offering him any help. But this time was different. Our uncle had opened his Bible and was giving my sisters and myself a spontaneous Sunday School lesson in his van. He read the wonderful parable of which our text today forms a part. And he explained it all out in simple terms, because we were just young children. We already had a pretty good idea of who the Good Samaritan was. But this time, we learned who the priest and the Levite were, and why they could not help the wounded man, even if they had wanted to. We need to remember that those same two characters are no help to the wounded around us today.

So who was the priest? And why could he not help the robbed and dying man? Simply put, the priest speaks of religion. Religion is the greatest evil in our world, the cause of all of humanity’s greatest crimes and the root of all of humanity’s worst excesses. Religion first reared its ugly head in the world’s first murder, committed by Cain in envy over God’s rejection of his religious offering of produce. Murder has been a hallmark of religion ever since, whether it be the mythology behind the wars of antiquity, or the bloodthirstiness of Rome against true believers during the Dark Ages, or the hateful destruction of Christians today by the Moslems and the Hindu. Religion is behind the deepest hatreds and animosities in the world. Nothing is so destructive and so dividing as religion. And we will never be a help to anyone with religion. What the world needs is not religion but compassion and the love of Christ, the message of salvation found only in a Person, the message delivered by those whose hearts burn with a love for souls, the message demonstrated by those who seek to display lives that reflect the meek and loving Saviour. Would that be us?

So who was the Levite? And why could he not help the robbed and dying man? Simply put, the Levite speaks of good works. This of course speaks of the good works of ritual and devotion to the demands of a code of conduct or a program of promotion, with the goal of accumulating enough merits to satisfy God. Most modern-day churches urge their members to live good lives and do good works. In themselves, these would be wonderful. But the motive behind them is totally wrong. If I give a cup of cold water, or even donate a kidney, for the sole purpose of telling God that I deserve His favour, I have missed the mark. For the unbeliever, good works are merely their responsibilities to others. For the believer, good works are our responses to the love of Christ that we have received. Good works cannot help the lost soul who sin has left robbed and dying, because such good works are dead works.

We are not priests or Levites, we are representatives for the Good Samaritan. -Jim MacIntosh

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