THE TESTED PRIESTHOOD SHADOWS
A certain teacher of the laws of the Lord, first questioned Jesus about what he had to do to have eternal life. This teacher, should have, and probably did, already know the answer. So Jesus puts the question back to him, and he answers it correctly. Though the teacher knew the answer, he hoped to find a loophole in it. He did not have the kind of love for others as he knew he should have had. So he asked Jesus about the commandment - "Love thy neighbor as thyself." Just who is our "neighbor"? he wondered. He had a motive for his question, for he was wanting to justify his own lack of love for some persons.
"...he, willing to justify himself..."
Many people today seek for someone who will answer the questions, with answers they want to hear. They will chase after Bible teachers, and saints of God, and question them. Some will question only those in the church who will side with their views, and never disagree with their un-Scriptural, and un-loving views. Those who disagree, are ignored, not called, and often criticized.
This teacher of the laws of God thought perhaps Jesus would say something that would allow him not to feel guilty for his lack of love. Jesus answered with a story about a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho.
Many have called this a "parable," and perhaps it is, but the detail and descriptions may well indicate that it is a true story. Jesus may have been showing this teacher that certain events were known by the Lord. I suspect that the teacher could well have been either the "victim" of the story, or perhaps the "Levite" or the "priest" who passed by. The startling revelation that the Lord would know of such an event would tend to startle this teacher who was under conviction already.
In the same way, the Holy Spirit will use a word of knowledge revealed to one saint, or a prophetic message to reveal the secrets of someone's heart... In Charismatic circles, where revival is present, this is a frequent occurrence. Jesus did His miracles through the power of the Spirit, and this may have been a word of knowledge to aid in the conviction of this teacher.
The man of which Jesus spoke was robbed by thieves in the story. His garment was taken, he was wounded, and left half dead. A priest and a Levite passed by the wounded man, but would not help. A Samaritan saw the victim and had compassion. He bound up the man's wounds, took him to an inn, and paid for his care. Of the four people who came into contact with this victim, the priest, the Levite, the inn keeper, and the Samaritan, who was the neighbor?
The four men who came into contact with this victim, all were being tested, and watched during this test by the Lord. God tests and proves all of His children. We are all priests, or even if we are not fully committed to serving the Lord, we are like the Levites... We are blessed and growing spiritually. Yet, every so often, the Lord will bring us to a testing time. He wants to see how we apply our growth, our teachings, and our blessings to our actions. We are never tested beyond our ability to pass such tests.
There are many such tests recorded in Scripture.
In the garden of Eden, they were blessed with many trees from which to freely partake. Yet, there was one tree, the tree of knowledge of good and evil, that was a test... Would they eat of the one, the only one tree that was forbidden?
Israel walked into the wilderness, free from the slavery of Egypt at last. Yet, even with the blessings of freedom, manna, etc... they occasionally faced tests... as the bitter waters of Marah, and later the walls of Jericho, and the giants of the land...
Peter had seen many miracles and heard many teachings of the Lord, and yet, there came a time of testing, and a maid pointing her finger at him...
The three special disciples who were invited to pray with Jesus in Gethsemane, fell asleep with the test of physical weariness.
Mary and Martha expected Jesus to hurry to their sides when Lazarus grew ill, and yet, He delayed, and only came after Lazarus had been dead for four days. This was a difficult test for these two women.
Paul was blessed by the Lord with a great, miraculous ministry. Yet, he faced tests of shipwreck, stoning, beatings, imprisonment, hatred, etc. He was a special person, and yet faced more difficult tests than most of us ever have.
John was also a beloved disciple of the Lord, and yet, he was put on the "Alcatraz" of his day - the isle of Patmos. This prison island was a great test for John.
Let's examine the test revealed by Jesus here to this teacher.
"And behold, a certain lawyer (teacher of the law of Moses) stood up, and tempted Him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He (Jesus) said unto him, What is written in the law? How readest thou? And he answering, said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, with all thy strength, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbor as thyself. And He (Jesus) said unto him, thou has answered right. This do and thou shalt live. But he (the teacher) willing to justify himself (he must have not loved others well) said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor? And Jesus answering said, A certain rich man went down (it is a steep descent from Jerusalem to Jericho, 18 miles downhill) from Jerusalem to Jericho (this road is called the "bloody way" for it was the most dangerous road in Israel) and fell among thieves (12,000 priests lived in Jericho, and they daily carried money from the temple area to Jericho) which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him for dead. And, by chance, (the priest and the Levite were not out looking for someone to help), there came a certain priest that way; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. (Priests had rules of cleanliness and purity of their garments, and to help the man would have meant a defilement of his garments, and a necessity of a cleansing.) And, likewise, a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan (these were hated by the Jews, and if the victim had came upon the Samaritan in similar circumstances, it is very unlikely that he would have helped the Samaritan) as he journeyed, came where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and he went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to the inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow, when he departed, he took out two pence (two days wages), and gave them to the host, and said, Take care of him, and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou was neighbor unto him that fell among thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus, unto him, Go and do thou likewise."
You have been tested by the Lord. Just as the Levite, the priest, the Samaritan, and even the innkeeper were tested, so have you. How did you react in your tests? How would you have reacted to this one in Luke 10? Many would say, 'Surely I would have been like the Samaritan!' And yet, why do they fail similar tests in their own present surroundings?
Some have encountered "thieves" in their own scenario. Perhaps you have been mistreated, injured, and hurt by the thugs in a particular church, workplace, neighborhood, or family. You felt beaten, robbed, and left alone. Did the other Christians come to your aid? Did they bind up your wounds? Or did they pass by, afraid of defiling themselves with the situation? Did they leave you to fend for yourself, because they feared the same "thieves"? Did they pity you, but not want to be troubled with helping you?
If more church people would pass this test, the Lord would not be so busy giving make-up exams. If you failed this test, when you came upon a mistreated, abused, and hurt child of God, you will be going through a make up test soon!
WHAT ABOUT THE THIEVES?
"man fell among"
The man obviously did not plan to be robbed. They hid, and surprised the victim. He had some things that they wanted, and their greed, envy for power or prestige, made them seek to do him harm. Many today are like those thugs. They want power, control, and authority. They lay in wait spiritually and design plans against those who might possess such things as they desire.
"stripped him of raiment"
The raiment of Christians is righteousness. The false accusers strip one of the righteousness of a saint. Some want to remind others of their former sins (that God has already forgiven). Some will call other saints names of ridicule and disrespect. Some will set forth a wrong motive for another's right actions. This is the stripping of another of his raiment of righteousness.
There are so-called "saints" in congregations that do harm, spiritually abuse, and hurt the children of God. This is a very ignored truth, and the church world does not want to speak of it, for it hits home very hard. Often the tongue is the weapon of destruction used by thieves in the church. An angry, bitter, judgmental tongue can do greater damage than the knives of the thieves in this story. The tongue is the most dangerous weapon we possess. Many "saints" are like a five year old with a machine gun, when it comes to using their tongue. They have no idea the damage they can do.
"departed, leaving him for dead"
There are in many congregations those who seem very uncaring for the hurting. They can wound others, and see them hurting and in despair, and not do anything to help. They never think of apologizing. They can come up with many reasons for their emotional, damaging outbursts with their weapon, the tongue. They walk away, uncaring for the wounded ones.
Many do not want to even admit that there are "thieves" in congregations today. The Bible often warns us of such.
I John 3:15
"Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer."
I John 3:14
"He that loveth not his brother abideth in death."
"But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat..."
Does God care what the thieves of today do? Of course, He does. He sees every action, and knows every motive and thought. He watches over his saints, and when thieves come and do harm to them, the Lord immediately acts.
"he that touches you, touches the apple (pupil) of His eye..."
As it would not be wise to poke the heavyweight boxing champion in the eye, it is even more unwise to poke God in His eye.
Psalms 105:15, I Chronicles 16:22
"Touch not Mine anointed, and do My prophets no harm."
WHAT ABOUT THE PRIEST AND THE LEVITE?
The priest and the Levite were supposed to represent the best of society. They were the religious, the ones taught the Scriptures, and the ones who were to be in daily intercession for others. They both "passed by." They may have pitied the poor victim, but they did not want to get involved.
Society is often like that, and many times reports have been given of people who watch someone get raped, someone be mugged, someone be killed. They are too scared to get involved. They may pity the victim, but they are fearful of becoming a victim also.
EXCUSES OF THE PRIESTS AND LEVITES OF TODAY
1. "Well, its only a .... (board member, pastor, teacher, youth leader, etc)..."
2. "The thieves have been my friends for years, I don't want to help the guy they beat up."
3. "If we take a stand, the thieves may get upset."
4. "The one who did the damage is a relative, surely blood is thicker than water..."
5. "The poor man brought it on himself, he should have known better than to...."
6. "Well, I'll pray for the thieves, and I'll say a prayer for the poor victim too."
7. "What, try to stop the thieves! No way! All my dad, and grandfather did was pray about it, it was good enough for them, and its good enough for me."
STATEMENTS THE PRIESTS AND LEVITES TODAY
MAKE ABOUT THE GOOD SAMARITANS
1. "Well, maybe the guy was a relative that he helped, if it had been one of my relatives, I would have helped him too."
2. "Doesn't he know the thieves will get mad at him for helping? He must be a troublemaker for making the thieves angrier than they already were."
3. "Stay away from that Samaritan, next thing you know, he will want to organize a posse to stop those thieves."
4. "Well, he did not have the position that I have, he did not need to worry about defiling his garments, as do I. I have a responsibility to stay in control here."
HOW DO WE HANDLE THE THIEVES AND THUGS OF TODAY?
Do we help the wounded, or pamper the thugs?
Do we give help to the wounded, or worry about losing the offerings of the thugs?
Do we build our congregation on the "formerly wounded" or allow it to be filled with thugs and thieves?
Do we excommunicate the thieves and thugs, or offer them the best seats, so they will like us?
Satan is the "accuser of the brethren." He is the "chief thief", the "head thug". When we get to heaven, we will cast out this head thief, and not allow him back.
Revelation 12:7-9, 10-11 records:
"neither was there found place anymore in heaven... great dragon was cast out... accuser of the brethren is cast down..."
Why then do we pamper those doing the devil's job now, and later throw their boss out of heaven??? Perhaps our pampering, our coddling of the thieves, is done out of fear, not faith... The carnality (meat-headedness) of many allows thieves of today to do their work over and over again.
The Bible records how to eliminate those who are thieves and accusers of the brethren in the congregations of today. In Matthew 18:5-10 is recorded information that few church congregations have ever used.
In these, the last days, it is a common problem of "tares" amidst the wheat, and harm coming to many innocent victims. The Lord is testing His saints. The church of Laodicea is a church that seeks to "please the people". The cold church of the last days does not care about victims. There are many today in less than cold churches who also do not care for victims. They have grown cold, and can watch people be hurt, and lay victimized... alone. They have excuses why they do not care. They criticize the victims, and pamper the "thieves" who did the hurt.
"For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears and dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart and they should be converted, and I should heal them."
The church of the last days have a lack of seeing, a lack of hearing, and a lack of understanding spiritually. There are many like the Levite and priest in this story within the congregations of the last days. Too many spiritually stupid, blind to the needy, deaf to the Holy Spirit, uncaring, unloving, and thoughtless people are in the churches today.
I John 1:8-9
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
The often forgotten one in this story is the inn keeper. He did his ministry only for the money paid him. There are some who aid the wounded, but for the wrong motive. The inn keeper is not singled out for praise, not as the Samaritan was. If we serve God for the pay, and not out of love, the reward of the Lord is lost to us. Make sure that your motive is love, and if you lack love, remember that it is the Holy Spirit that sheds it abroad in our hearts.
HOW TO PASS THE TEST
We need to do as the good Samaritan did. Let's look at what he did.
"came to where he was"
The good Samaritan was willing to be used. He cared enough to not only pity, but take action.
He had eyes to see the needy, we need to be on the look out for the hurting. Too many see those hurt by another of the congregation, and ignore the fact.
"had compassion on him"
This man had the love of God in him. The priest and the Levite saw, but did not have true compassion. True compassion makes us spring into action. If your child lay hurting by the roadside, would you just look with pity, or spring into action?
"went to him"
He was willing to be near and touch the hurting. He abandoned his own plans to do God's work.
"bound up his wounds"
He loved in deeds, not just in word.
"pouring in oil and wine"
He ministered the Holy Spirit to him. He had the oil and wine with him, he was prepared. We need to have the Holy Spirit with us at all times, to guide us, and to be there for healing and guidance.
"set him on his own beast"
He walked so another could ride, expended his own energy for the victim.
"brought him to the inn"
He took him to others for more help.
"took care of him"
He did not expect a pat on the back, he only wanted to aid the victim. There are many who will call the pastor, when someone is noticed that is hurting... but where are the ones who will personally help, exhort, encourage, and take time to bind up the wounded?
"took out two pence"
This man spent for this stranger. He was willing to give financially for a victim. He did not just give to the congregation, and hope they would help this victim. He did his part, right then, and did not trust the congregation to someday do something. Too many have gotten into the false doctrine of allowing the congregation to do all the helping. This has been encouraged by some "ministers" who want to collect all the offerings they can. Unfortunately, they do not come across all the victims, they end up helping only a few of the true victims. We must be ready to give, not only in the offerings of a church, but to the victims we come across in life also.
"when I come again"
He would not forget, he was planning future help. The two days wages that he left for the inn keeper was probably the time the Samaritan would be gone. He would be back before the money ran out, to see if the victim needed any more assistance. Too many Christians today abandon those they help before the help is unneeded. We need to be sure, we have done all that is necessary.
It should be dangerous for someone to attack another Christian when you are around. If someone began beating your child, with you standing there, would you do anything? Surely, you would. Then why not help the victims in a congregation? It must be a lesser love that made you not want to help other victims. Christians are the only army that shoots its own wounded. Christians are the only army that watch as others shoot their own wounded. They often claim, it is love that keeps them from stopping the thieves who wound their comrades. This is a stupid, carnal, and unloving excuse to soothe their consciences as they pass by victims.
Others faced this test. Barnabas saw Paul rejected to the Jews and Christians in Jerusalem. Barnabas came to Paul and helped this wounded saint. When Paul rejected John Mark, Barnabas came to defend and help John Mark.
Peter and John came to a lame man at the temple, and many other disciples must have walked by this man regularly... Peter and John passed the test, and offered to this man, Jesus and healing.
The disciples heard the blind man calling for Jesus. They were willing to not be troubled, or delayed. Yet, the Lord heard and responded where they had failed the test.
The widow had one last meal for her and her son. Then God sends a lonely, hungry prophet (Elijah), who needed a meal. She could have failed this test, ate her last meal and died. However, she passed the test, and God blessed her.
What has been your test? Have you passed it? Have you failed God again? Has your uncaring selfishness caused you to by-pass the wounded? Have you excused the thieves because they were related to you? Have you used the excuse of "love" for the "thieves" to pass by the victims??? Have you helped victims, but only because, like the inn keeper, you were reimbursed for your work?? Have you realized yet, that your ministry is not to keep spotless robes, stand in prestigious places and receive adulation, but rather to get out in the highways and hedges, and find victims to help and encourage??? God is still testing His saints!