Back to School Week 2: Extra Credit

Sermon Transcript



Back to school. It’s that time of year when we all do whatever we can to prepare. We hit the sales, stock up on all the supplies and make sure we are equipped for the next challenge life is about to throw at us. But are we sure we have everything we need? Maybe our backpacks are still missing something.

[End Video]

Well, good afternoon to everybody and, also, to those who watch via the internet and the mobile app. We are currently in a series called “Back to School.” You know, one of the things that we try to do as a staff and our creative team in the messages and the content that we do on the weekends is we try to contextualize things that if we know certain things are going on in your life or certain things are going on in people’s lives or there’s certain things going on in the world, we like to do things that benefit you. Because, at the end of the day, what we’re trying to do here at Grace is when you come on the weekends, we want to make sure that you are equipped to live out this Christian life in a way that is really meaningful and is abundant.

So, I try hard, the staff tries hard, the creative team tries hard to really make sure that we are dialed in and we’re doing something that makes sense to everybody, and everybody knows right now that people are going back to school. It’s just that time of year. Many of us know, because I’m a professor, so I’m obviously keyed in. My kids go to school. Then, if you don’t have any kids, you don’t have any grandkids, you know the busses are on the highways again. Everybody knows we’re going to back to school.

So we thought, since that’s sort of what’s going on in everybody’s world right now, whether you’re in school or whether you’re aware of it, that it would be neat to take some concepts or themes that we know about school and have a little fun with them, and then transition into a really good, biblical teaching that would be practical, help us out and would give us some tools for our toolbox to live out our Christian life. So, last week, as we launched the series, we talked about “the test.” We talked about in school, when you take a test, it’s all about what you know. Well, when God comes to us, it’s not really a test, but when He does come to us, it’s not what we know, it’s whether or not we trust Him. So, a little bit of a difference, but everybody likes that idea. Everybody knows about the test.

Well, this week, we thought we would deal with something that I think if you ever struggled in school or if you ever just needed to get a little bit of a better grade, and some of us really enjoyed these two words, and those words were “extra credit.” Can anybody say amen for extra credit? Some of you, when you heard extra credit, you heard “Shekinah glory.” It was like, “The Lord has come down in the deal,” and it’s like the best thing you could ever have. You know, with extra credit, as a professor who teaches, extra credit usually comes at this point in my life this way: It’s either the first day of class, you just finished and you see the person in the back, and here they come through the chairs and you know when they walk up and they say, “Doctor Bennett, I was just wondering is there any...”

And I look at them and go, “Extra credit?”

They’re like, “Whoa. You’re a prophet.”

I’m like, “No. I’ve just done this before.”

Or it comes at the very end of class. I mean, at the very end, when somebody’s crashed and burned, it’s like the grades are all over the floor, here they come. “Hey, do you think, by chance, maybe I could get some extra credit?”

I’m a nice guy, but what I really want to say in those moments is this: “So, you want more extra credit? How about doing all of the regular credit?” Right? Can I get an amen? That’s what I want to say, but I can’t. I’m a nice guy. But, in keeping with this idea of looking at stuff in school, I went back and found — I mean, it was a ton of stuff. I looked up “great extra credit questions,” I looked up “great extra credit answer,” and I had so much fun. We could spend the whole time just laughing and cutting up, but I did pick a couple of things that I thought were funny, and then we’ll get to the biblical texts. But this first one is great because the question for extra credit is two words: “Impress me.”

That’s the question. Okay? The answer that this person gives — and you may not find it as funny as me. I thought it was hilarious. He gets four points extra credit for the answer. He has one word for an answer. I mean, you think with “impress me,” they’d write a lot. Here’s the piece of paper. Here it is:

“Impress me.”

Answer: “Why?”

“Plus 4. That’s good. Always question the man.”

I love that. I don’t know why I think that’s so funny. I love it. This next one’s really good. This is a bonus point of one. It says, “What is the capital of Canada?”

Answer: “Of course I know the capital of Canada. It’s a great country. It’s really great. Everyone wants to know what the capital of Canada is, and do you know what I tell them? I tell them that we have a foolproof plan for naming the capital of Canada, and that is why we’re going to be the best at naming the capital of Canada. #MakeCanadaGreatAgain.”

The teacher’s like, “Do you know what? That’s good. Plus one.”

I love that. It’s just fantastic. It’s just good stuff. So, in case you don’t know who Bon Jovi is a rock band. This next question looks like it’s from a math test, and the question is, “Can you tell me the dumbest conversation that you’ve overheard lately?” You get 1-5 points depending upon how good your answer is. This answer gets 7 points. I mean, they went above and beyond. The teacher writes, “Holy smokes!” with an exclamation point.

So, here it is: “What’s the dumbest conversation you’ve overheard recently?”

Guy: “Do you like Bon Jovi?”

Girl: “No, thanks. I don’t eat Italian food.”

“Plus 7. Holy smokes.”

I love it. That’s good stuff. It’s just fantastic. You’ve got to love extra credit. Alright. This is a church, so we need to get back to the Bible. But, anyway, when it comes to extra credit in school, usually, once again, it’s to sort of make up a deficiency or to get a little bit better grade, but what I’d like to submit — and we’re going to look at a passage I think that’s really going to challenge us. It’s really just a great passage to look at. I’d like to submit to you that as Christians, we should just be people that do extra credit just because. We don’t do it to make up for some deficiency, we’re just extra credit people. We’re just people that do more. We’re going to see a passage here where that really hits home. It’s going to speak to us. But I think it’s also going to give us a great opportunity for transformation.

So, before I get into the passage, which is in Luke 10:25-37 — and you’ve probably heard this story before. If you haven’t heard this story, you’ve heard, at least, the story somewhat told at some place in your life, or you’ve heard some words out of it. But I want to set it up and then I want to go through it. I think we’re going to learn some things as we go through it. Then we’ll do some practical application at the end that, hopefully, will help us out in our Christian lives.

In Luke 10 — and you’ve got to set up these passages. I hope you’ve learned this if you come to Grace on a regular basis. You can’t just take a passage of Scripture and pull it out. It fits within the whole. We’re got to sort of know, contextually, what is going on so that we’re not likely to pull something out and make it say something that it doesn’t say. In Luke 10:1, we find that Jesus has 72 disciples. You probably hear 12 disciples, and even of the 12 disciples, He had 3 that He was closest to. But then He had nine more, which is twelve, and that was a close, close, close group. And then He had 72 more. So, there were 72 disciples, and of these 72 disciples He comes to them and says, “Here’s what I want you to do. You guys believe in me. You believe that I’m the Messiah. You believe that I’m Christ. We’ve got that down. What I want you to do now is I want you to go do something. I want you to go pour into people’s lives. I want you to go into all these towns and I want you to preach the Gospel. I want you to tell them good news and I want you to get involved in their lives. I want you to pray for them. I want you to pray for the sick. I want you to pray for those that are struggling with whatever they’re struggling with. Those that are oppressed, I want you to get involved in their lives and I want you to go do this.”

They all say, “Yes, we’re going to go do this.”

So, they go out. We’re not really told anything other than now they’ve come back. So, we know they went out and now they’ve come back. When they come back, they’re pumped. They’re like, “Man, Jesus, You don’t understand. What You told us to go do, we did. Man, it worked.”

It’s crazy how that works, isn’t it? Do what God says, and — anyway, they came back — which is always funny to me that they actually are wowed that what Jesus said would happen actually happened, but they are like, “Whoa. You won’t believe this. We went to these towns, we preached the Gospel, people heard. Man, we prayed for the sick and they got healed. Jesus, this is — whoa.”

And He’s like, “Man, that’s fantastic. Listen, I’m so happy that you guys went out there and you took on the enemy and you did what you did, but what’s the most important thing — and you should rejoice about this — is that your names are written in heaven. You have eternal life. That’s what’s important.” And then Luke tells us that Jesus prayed. He said, “Father, thank You for revealing these things to these people that are in front of me, that are like children that have come to me and accepted me. Not like the wise person who has to think through everything, but like children they’ve come to me and I’ve revealed myself to them. Thank You for this moment. Thank You that this has happened.”

And then He turns to the 12 and He says to them, “Do you have any idea how many people would love to have seen what you’re seeing, would get to experience this whole thing, see this thing and have truly understood what eternal life is all about?”

Now, the next thing that happens probably didn’t happen right in that moment. Luke has structured the Gospel, as all the Gospels are, they’re structured to make a point. They use literary devices so that we, as the reader, are pulled in and we have to sort of think through what we’re reading and what’s going on. So, what happens next is this. This is what Luke says happens next. It probably didn’t happen right then. It happened, but he stitched it together, taking on this idea of eternal life, the fact that they’ve seen it and other people might not have seen it. Then, all of a sudden, as he looks to the disciples, “Hey, man. So many people wish they could’ve seen what you’ve seen,” here’s what Luke says to us:

“And behold, a lawyer stood up...”

Now, this is important because when you hear the word “behold,” it’s a device to get you to focus in here. It’s like, “Hey, pay attention. This is important.” We’re told a lawyer stood up. Now, when you read that, you may be — and it’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with this. You may be tempted to see “lawyer” in terms of the way that we see lawyers today. A person who represents the law. In the New Testament, this Greek word is “nomikos,” which is someone who, usually, is a priest. So, they serve the temple as a priest, and they only had certain times that they had to serve during the calendar year. But then, when they would go back to their town — like Zechariah in the book of Luke at the beginning, he’s at the temple, he’s doing his thing, but then he goes back home to his wife Elizabeth because that’s what would happen. Priests had certain times that they would go to Jerusalem, do their duty and then they would go back home.

Well, lawyers, at this time, there was no division between the sacred and the secular in Israel. They administered the law. They would go and be a priest in the temple. That’s what they were. But when they came home, they were lawyers. They were people that helped people in that town understand what the law said and how to apply it, and if there were breaks or people that had done wrong, how to administer justice and all of those things. So, this lawyer — and when you read that word, you should know that, in Luke, these lawyers, usually, are not looking to help Jesus out. They’re not usually there to befriend Him. This lawyer stands up. Now, in the 1st Century, that would’ve been really important for you and me. It might’ve been like, “Yeah. Well, he just stands up. What’s he doing? Trying to draw attention to himself?”

No. That’s actually a gesture of respect. It’s much like raising your hand in class when the teacher’s talking and not just blurting out an answer. You raise your hand and show respect until you’re called upon. So, this guy stands up, which means he wants to ask a question, but he’s giving respect to Jesus, which would’ve been sort of strange because everybody who was around and saw this would’ve thought, “Man, these people don’t really like Jesus, but he’s standing up and showing Jesus respect. This is an interesting thing.”

“And behold, a lawyer stood up...” — but then Luke tells us that there’s an ulterior motive here — “ put him to the test,”

So, he stood up and everybody who sees this thinks he’s giving Jesus respect, but what he’s really doing is he’s there to challenge Him. He’s there to poke at Him. He’s there to see if he can expose something that would get Jesus in trouble or would bother Jesus. So, he’s going to put Him to the test. He stood up. Everybody sort of sees what’s going on. But, deep down inside, he’s there to put Him to the test.

He says, “‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’”

“What shall I do?” That’s a really sort of loaded question in the 1st Century. It’s actually a massively loaded question in the 1st Century. They argued about this. Today, as I was trying to think of something that I could think of where you all would go, “Yeah, okay. We understand how contentious that would be,” can you imagine if you took 10 people from 10 different denominations, put them in a room and said, “Tell me how the Lord’s going to come back?”

There’d be boxing gloves and all. I mean, it would be a heated conversation, probably. “You don’t read the Bible right.” Okay. Well, this question is a loaded question. How do you inherit eternal life? So, he’s come to Jesus to ask a theological question. He’s not really come to Jesus because he wants Jesus. He’s not come to Jesus because he wants to have a relationship with Jesus. He’s there to trick Jesus, to trip Jesus up, because he’s more worried about being right theologically and doctrinally than he is about coming to Jesus. Let that sink in for a minute.

“‘What shall I do to inherit eternal life?’”

Well, Jesus is smart. He doesn’t answer the question. He questions him back. He said, “What is written in the Law? I mean, you’re a lawyer. You’re someone that understands the Law, really. I mean, you know the Law. You understand it well. What’s written in the Law? What’s written there? I mean, you know what’s written.” And then He says something that, I’m almost positive, when we go through these passages of Scripture, we just completely miss. It’s like we just forget that this part was in there.

He says, “‘What is written in the Law? How do you read it?’”

In other words, Jesus admits people read things differently, that they see things differently. He goes, “Well, how do you read it? Tell me how you read it. You know the Law really well. How do you read it? Tell me how you see this eternal life thing.”

And his answer is this, and he knows exactly what he’s answering. He says, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’”

He knows that that’s a great answer for Jesus because Jesus has gone all throughout Galilee telling everybody, “Love God, love others. Love God, love others.” So, he knows that that’s an answer that’s a good answer, but he’s really wanting to get to something because he wants to challenge Jesus. So, Jesus’ response is this: “Hey, you’ve answered correctly. Do that, and you will live.”

But see, there’s a little bit of going back and forth here that if we’re not really, really, really sensitive to the text and what’s going on in Luke we might sort of miss. Jesus, in the way that He treated people, was that everybody could come and eat with Him. He loved everybody. But in Judaism in the 1st Century, and in the scholarly world, the passage that said you should love your neighbor as yourself was out of Leviticus 19. And how did they read it? Well, they read it very specifically. They read it very clearly to themselves. The whole passage is dealing with how do you love other Jewish people? Not everybody, just other Jewish people. Except, at the very end, there was this little passage that said, “If an alien or an immigrant or a stranger happened to come among you, love them too.”

So, they interpreted that with, “Well, you can’t — I mean, you can’t do that. If you let somebody come in that’s not of you, they might take things from you. They might do things to you. They might destroy. You’ve got to keep them away.”

So, the way they interpreted that, the way they read that was if they come in and become part of us, then we can love them. But Jesus didn’t see it that way. Jesus said, “I’m loving everybody.” So, when He answers, “You know what? Go do this, and you’ll live,” the lawyer’s sitting there, if he walks away, he knows that if he walks away and does that, where he loves like Jesus, then he’s really following Jesus. He’s admitted that Jesus is who He is, but he can’t. He can’t do that because he doesn’t believe that. He’s asked this question to bring out some contentiousness and show that Jesus is wrong. So, to justify himself in front of everybody in his own position, he says, “Well, who’s my neighbor? Who is it that I cannot love? Who’s my neighbor?”

And he’s hoping that Jesus’ response will be, “Well, you love everybody,” then he can argue with Him and go, “No. That’s not what the Bible says. This is what the Bible says,” and Jesus is not going to see it the way he sees it. He’s not going to see it the way Jesus sees it because he reads it a certain way.

So, he says, “Who’s my neighbor?” Jesus doesn’t answer that question. He tells a story. Here’s the story:

“Jesus says, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho,’”

And you know this guy’s going, “Dude, just answer the question. This is not story time. I’m not tired. It’s not time for momma to come read me out of a book at story time here.

“Jesus says, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho,’”

And if you’ve ever been overseas and you’ve been to Israel — and some of you have gone with me — we took up from the Dead Sea, past Jericho and all the way up to Jerusalem. When you go up, you go up several thousand feet. You go from below sea level to above sea level in Jerusalem. But then you would come down. So, when the Bible says you go up to Jerusalem or come down from Jerusalem, it’s literal. It means that. But if you’ve traveled there, it’s like a 17- or 18-mile journey, and it’s all cut backroads and there’s rocks, hills and everything. There weren’t any busses and there weren’t any roads back then like we have today. There were just paths. It was all this sort of rocks and everything. So, when you went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, one thing that everybody knew is that there might be people in the rocks that would jump out and take your stuff. I mean, it was a well-traveled road, so it was a great place for robbers, gypsies and people to hang out to get stuff if they needed stuff.

“Jesus says, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers,’” — that wouldn’t have been anything that would’ve been shocking. Most people would’ve known this — “‘who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.’”

Now, one of the things you would’ve known if you lived in the 1st Century is since this guy was naked, it would be hard to tell who he was because most of the ways that you could tell who people were in the 1st Century is the clothes that they wore. So, he’s naked. We also know something else. In the Ancient Near East — I can’t tell you why this is the way it was, but it was sort of the culture — if somebody jumps out from behind a rock and says, “Give me your stuff,” and you give them your stuff, they don’t beat you up. That’s just sort of understood. If you say, “No, you’re not getting my stuff. I’m going to fight for my stuff,” then there was a fight. So, this guy didn’t want to give up his stuff. We know that. He was stripped, he was beaten and they departed, and they left him half dead.

So, here he is laying in a ditch. You wouldn’t know for sure if he was dead or not dead. He’s naked without any clothes. The only way that you could possibly tell who he was if maybe if you went over and sort of examined him. You could probably tell if he was circumcised or not, but that would be the only way to possibly tell what type of nationality he was. But you wouldn’t know for sure. Either way, he’s lying there, he’s beat up, he’s departed and he’s left half dead. At this point, it’s a good story. Where are we going? What’s going on?

He says, “‘Now by chance a priest was going down that road,’”

Well, if you know the lawyer knows the Scripture, he knows that the steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord. There ain’t no chance going on here. Jesus just says that to get him in, to pull him into the story. “It’s just by chance. He just happened to show up. Priest just going down the road.” No, no. There’s no “by chance.” He’s doing this to arrest the attention. And how would a priest have gone down the road? Well, he would’ve ridden an animal because priests were middle class, upper-middle class in the 1st Century. So, he’s riding an animal. He’s going down the road on his way back to Jericho.

“And when he saw him...” — he sees the guy. How does he read the Scripture? Does he read the Scripture that says that if a man’s laying over there dead that you should go bury him? Because that’s in the Law. Does he read the passage that says if somebody’s laying over in a ditch and they’re not dead that you’re supposed to help them? Because that’s in the Law. Or does he read the law that says that you shouldn’t touch a dead body because it defiles you? Because that’s in the Law. How does he read? Well, we’re going to know how he reads.

“When he saw him he passed by on the other side.”

We know how he reads. He reads, “I’m not going to get involved. There’s too much stuff here. It might contaminate me. I want to stay holy. I want to stay clean. I want to say right.”

Now, what we’re told next is, “‘A Levite, when he came to the place and saw him,’”

And this is important because the question is who were priests and who were Levites? This is a real good question. Let me give you an answer. All priests were Levites, but not all Levites were priests. So, a Levite that was not a priest would be like the second tier in the temple services. So, when the priests left from their duty, the Levites would leave after them. The priests would leave, the Levites would clean up, and then the Levites would go.

So, if you’re a Levite and you’re coming down the road, you know that the priest went before you — the one who knows Scripture, probably better than you. So, if the priest didn’t stop and help the guy, then you know how you ought to read the situation. You ought to pass right on by as well. So, when he came to the place and saw him, he passed by on the other side. Now, you should be expecting, if you’re the listener of the story in the 1st Century, you had a priest, a Levite and now you’re going to get a Jewish man or an Israelite.

Then Jesus said, “‘But a Samaritan,’”

Now, this is where — have you ever had those birthday cards that you open up and they play music to you? I think that our Bibles, when we get to passages like this, should light up and go, “Dun, dun, dun!” Just to give you some dramaticness here to the story, because this is a moment. “A Samaritan? I mean, a Samaritan?” This lawyer would have hated Samaritans. They definitely were not in the neighborly category. They hated these people. “But a Samaritan...” — and it would’ve been like, “What? A Samaritan? Why are you bringing them in here?”

He says, “‘But a Samaritan, as he journeyed,’”

That’s important because he’s in the wrong place, folks. He shouldn’t be on that road. Samaritans and Jews don’t get along, and you don’t go down Jewish territory any more than Jews go down Samaritan territory because you might fall into the wrong hands. So, is he lost? Is it by chance? Maybe he’s there for a reason.

So, “‘But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him,’” — what did he do? — “‘he had compassion.’”

Especially if you’re the lawyer listening to this, you’re like, “Oh, gosh. He had compassion.” But we’re not done.

“‘He went to him...’” — look at these verbs — “‘...and he bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal...’”

He didn’t do what the priest could’ve done, because he could’ve put him on his animal. But he puts him on his own animal and brought him to an inn, which is probably in Jericho, which is crazy because a Samaritan in Jericho would not be a good place for a Samaritan to be. This guy’s putting his life on the line. It’d be like, basically — remember the cowboy movies where Wyatt Earp and the quick draws and the cowboys and Indians and everything? Can you imagine in that world if in Wyatt Earp’s area, you’ve got the O.K. Corral, the bar and the inn and all that stuff — like the Bonanza scene or whatever. All of a sudden — and this is real world if you can sort of imagine. Imagine an Indian has got a horse and he’s walking with that horse into cowboy land. On the back of his horse, he’s got a cowboy draped over his horse that’s got two or three arrows in his back. You know how long he’d be around. Even if he was helping the guy, even if it was good, it would be like, “No. this guy’s terrible. Get rid of him.”

This guy goes into a town, into an inn and takes care of him.

“‘And the next day...’”

He stayed the night. This guy’s crazy. There are going to be people outside waiting for him.

“‘And the next day he took out two denarii...’” — the two denarii is probably either a week or two weeks of stay. We don’t know for sure. We just don’t know. It could be a week, so he gave a week of stay. It could’ve been two weeks of stay. But, in other words, he paid for a good stay.

He gave them to the innkeeper, saying, “‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend,’” — whatever more you need — “‘I will repay you when I come back.’”

“Dude, you’re going to come back? You’re lucky if you don’t die on the way out. You brought in someone. We don’t think good of you even if it is good what you’re doing. We’re not going to think good of you because we are so prejudiced against you we’re never going to see you as being possible of doing good. And you’re going to come back? And whatever more?”

Jesus looks at the attorney and says, “Of these three, who was a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”

Because, see in his mind, a neighbor would be you don’t have to get involved. “I’ve got a set of what I can do.” He says, “Which one was the better neighbor?” He can’t even find in his vocabulary to speak the word “Samaritan.”

He says, “‘The one who showed him mercy.’”

“That’s the one. This is the one. The one who showed mercy. I’m not going to tell you it’s a Samaritan because I don’t want to speak that name, but the one who showed mercy.”

“Jesus said to him, ‘You go, and do likewise.’”

Which puts him in a position because if he actually goes out and starts loving the people that he would not naturally love, then he’s showing that he’s following Jesus which answers the question for him, “How do I inherit eternal life?”

I believe in Jesus and I follow Jesus. But he’s not going to. He’s not going to at all because he’s more concerned with his righteousness, his stance and his position rather than actually, genuinely caring for everybody. So, normally at this point, after we’ve looked at a good biblical passage and we’re like, “Whoa, that’s really some powerful stuff. That’s really great stuff,” we now do, “Well, okay, how does that apply to me in 2018?” We normally call these “take-homes.” But this series is “Back to School,” so we decided we’d be creative and we would call this “Vocabulary Phrases.” So, we’re going to learn some vocabulary phrases that we can chew on, think about and pray about that apply to our lives.

The first one is “whatever more.” This is the first phrase that we want to learn. Whatever more. We want to know what that definition is. It comes from, “And whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.” In other words, “I’m ready to do some extra credit even though I don’t need to do extra credit. Whatever more.”

The definition of “whatever more” is living our life to do whatever more we can rather than just simply enough. And this is a real question for all of us as Christians. “What do you do?” Whatever more. “What do you do when things are not...” — whatever more. “What do you do when your marriage isn’t doing...” — whatever more. “What do you do when your boss isn’t...” — whatever more. You say, “Well, I don’t want to do that.”

This is, ultimately, the question here. Do we love God? Do we love others? Then we are “whatever more” people. We are people of “whatever more.” Let me tell you what being a “whatever more” person really looks like in our lives. First of all, it shows that God is first because you can’t really be a “whatever more” person if you’re first because you’re going to be, sort of, “Let me get what I want. Let me get everything together. Maybe, maybe, maybe I’ll be nice every once in a while, but I’m not going to live my life as a ‘whatever more’ because if I live my life as a ‘whatever more,’ I’m not putting myself first.” Exactly. Living a “whatever more” life says God’s first in our lives.

Secondly, when we live a “whatever more” life, it allows others to experience a difference. Let me brag on you. I bragged on the other two services, I’m going to brag on 11:45. This is an awesome church. When we do First Fridays and things like First Fridays, those are “whatever more” moments. That’s what they are. They’re “whatever more” moments. Let me explain how they are. If you’ve worked First Friday at least two or three times, you know somebody’s walked up to you and said, “Where do I pay? Who do I go see to pay for my kid?”

We’re like, “You don’t have to pay for nothing.”

“What do you mean?”

See, by being a “whatever more” church and putting God first, we’ve allowed others to experience a difference. They’re going, “Whoa. Seriously?”

Yes. And then, what that does is by being a “whatever more” person, it gives us real opportunities to engage. “Well, why would you all do something like that?”

“Because we believe in being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ.”

“Really? Tell me about this church. Tell me about what’s going on.”

“Well, come on in. We’ve got an ugly preacher. He’s not that cool, but he’ll tell you a Greek word every once in a while,” or whatever. But it shows God’s first and allows others to experience a difference and gives us real opportunities to engage. The word we need to learn is “whatever more.” Whatever more. Whatever more it takes. Just whatever more.

The second vocabulary word — and this is an important word to learn, too, or phrase, is “passing by.” This is a good one to learn. This is a good phrase to learn. This comes from Luke 10:31.

“When he saw him, he passed by on the other side.”

What this vocabulary phrase means is this: This is where God gives you and me an opportunity to be “whatever more” people, and we choose not to do it. We just pass by. And listen, because I know I’m not a prophet. It’s not like God just spoke an audible in my voice. I just know this is the way it is. Whenever you preach a message like this and talk about whatever more, there’s always people in the room that go, “Yeah, but man, you can’t live that way. You just can’t do that. That’s just — that’s just not going to work. You’ve got to have time sometimes for yourself, and you’ve got to take care of your family, and you’ve got to do this.”

I totally agree. I’m not telling you that there’s never a time to draw a boundary. I’m not telling you that there’s not a time to take some rest. I’m not telling you that there’s not a time where you’ve got to focus on you, but what I can tell you is this — and this is what’s important because this is the question. Are we looking for opportunities to be “whatever more” people, or are we constantly coming up with excuses? Because what can happen is where you do need time, where you do need to focus and where you’ve got to take care — I get all those things. If that is always the excuse for never being a whatever more person, there’s a problem.

The focus should be, “I’m going to be a ‘whatever more’ person. And yes, I will do the things I tell you, but my first and primary motive is to be whatever more. I’m not going to pass by.”

And so many Christians, just like this lawyer who would’ve told you, “I absolutely love God, I absolutely am in for this thing and I’ve studied the Bible,” he wasn’t looking for opportunities to be neighborly. He wasn’t looking for opportunities to be a “whatever more” Christian. And I can’t tell you. I don’t know this guy’s heart, but what I can tell you is that God puts this passage of Scripture in between those who definitely have eternal life and possibly someone who doesn’t. It’s there not to tell you whether He does or doesn’t, it’s there to ask us, “Have we really ever been touched by the Lord?” Because if we’re always looking for excuses to not get involved, and we’ve always got an excuse for why we shouldn’t do that, why we shouldn’t treat people like that, and why we should exclude — if that’s sort of where we’re at and that’s our default position, this passage is to arrest us and to shake us up a little bit and say, “Hey, you don’t want to be a passing by Christian. You want to be a ‘whatever more.’”

Third — and this is just true for everyone. This is self-explanatory, but it’s a phrase called “open hands.” What I want to do here is I want you to look at the words here that I’m going to show you, and I want you to see them with hands. I want you to figuratively see hands here. “He bound up his wounds, poured on oil and wine.” Bound. Poured. Hands. “He set him up on his animal. He brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day, he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper.”

Look at those hands. Every time, they’re open. They’re open. They’re open hands. Because, see, the definition of “open hands” is when we realize that open hands that give are the only hands that actually receive. It’s in open hands that we actually receive and we can give. You can’t receive with hands like this. And here’s the real thing, and this is the moment where we should go, “Whoa, man. This is the real thing that’s going on here.”

Jesus is comparing robbers to neighbors. The priest and the Levite are robbers. They have left this man like the robbers. They’ve robbed the man of his dignity. They’ve robbed themselves of the blessing of helping someone else. The priest has robbed the person that’s following him from experiencing all of what God could have for them. And they both have lost an opportunity for God to show glory through who they are. They’re robbers. One is a neighbor.

This is the moment where you look in the text and you go, “Whoa. Is it possible I could be a robber and not a neighbor? I don’t want to be a robber. I want to be a neighbor.” That’s what the text is for. And here’s the question: When does my own safety, security or religious beliefs keep me from being a neighbor? When do those things jump in to my life and make me more of a robber than a neighbor?”

See, that’s what the Scriptures do. They just sort of expose. You know, you read them and you go, “Oh, man.” That’s why there’s grace. I mean, none of us are going to get this perfectly. It’s not that. But it’s there to say, “Hey, listen, this is what it really looks like to be a follower of Jesus.” It gives us something to pray about. It gives us something to think about. It gives us something to chew on.

Now, I could stop here and I think it would’ve been a good message. It would’ve given us something to think about, chew about and all that good stuff. But when I was in here Saturday — I come in here on Saturdays and pray over the seats and I go through my message one last time — I just knew that I needed to add one more thing at the end. And listen, if it was only last night — I had a young lady sit there in tears telling me, “It was like I hadn’t been here in a year, and I felt like I needed to be here. What you said was for me.”

I mean, totally broken down. So, if that was the only person, then I think I was good. But I suspect that there’s somebody in here too, and probably multiple somebodies in here that need to hear this because this is important. The last vocabulary phrase. I’m going to call this a “healing moment.” I think this is really important. The definition of a healing moment is — because we know this guy was left half dead and we know that this Good Samaritan came, bandaged him, but on the oil and wine, paid for everything that needed to be paid for to get him well. A healing moment is when the Lord binds us up and takes care of us after we’ve been beaten and left for dead. See, I suspect there’s somebody in here that feels like they’ve been beaten and left for dead on the side of the road. Maybe it was a marriage. Maybe it was a job. Maybe it was a dad or a mom who did you wrong. Maybe it was a boss. Maybe it was circumstances. I don’t know. What I’m saying is, though, that I suspect there’s somebody in here, if not more than one, that says, “Man, you don’t understand. I feel like I’m on the side of the road dead right now, and nobody’s going to come to me.”

Let me tell you something: It’s not by chance that you’re here. It’s not by you just showed up. You’re here because God wants you to know that He is the one that comes and binds us up when we’ve been left dead on the side of the road. That’s who He is. He is the Good Samaritan. He is the one that has the oil and the wine. He is the one that can pay whatever we need to pay so that we can get well. He’s done it all for us. And if you’re here and you feel like you’re on the side of the road, left for dead — maybe it was a church person. Maybe it was a pastor that passed you by. I don’t know what it was, but that’s where you’re at right now.

Let me tell you something: You are not here by accident. You’re here by divine appointment. God wants to be the one that comes and pours the oil and wine, binds you up and gets you well. Let Him do that this morning. Let Him do that. Maybe you feel a little broken up on the inside. You may feel like whatever. I saw people walking out of here, tears, saying, “God, thank You so much.” You don’t understand. That’s why we come here. We don’t come here to hear me. I ain’t going to — look, I’m just Chip. I’m not going to change your life. The band’s not going to change your life. We’ve got a great church. It’s not going to change your life. The person — and it’s a person — that changes life, His name is Jesus. That’s the one who does it and He wants to change your life.

Let’s bow our heads.

Dear Heavenly Father, I believe that there are people here this morning that need to hear this word that feel like they’re in a ditch. Lord, all of us need to hear this word about being a neighbor and all of us can leave chewing on that. But Lord, specifically right now, I want to pray for this that are struggling, for those that are on the side of the road feeling left for dead, beaten up, stripped of all their dignity, stripped of all the things that made them what they were.

Lord, I pray right now in Jesus’ name that there would be a healing that walks in to this sanctuary right now, a healing that binds up wounds, that ministers to Your people, that reaches out to everyone, Lord, and does what only You can do for Your glory.

Lord, I pray for those that are struggling and bound up and torn up on the inside that You would, in the way You do it, hover over them and just speak healing to their lives. Minister to Your people right now. Minister to Your people. Lord, we thank You for that You’re doing. We thank You that You’re a good Lord and that You’re a God who’s always attentive to our needs.

I pray that as we walk out of here today that You would just continue to lead and guide us, I pray that You’d bring us back safely to when we meet again, and I pray, Lord, that You would continue to help us be the church that You’ve called us to be, which is the church that reaches the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ.

Lord, we love You, we thank You and we praise You. In Jesus’ name, and everybody said, “Amen.” Give the Lord a big hand clap. Tell Him you love Him. God bless everybody. See you soon. Take care.

Chris Pedro