The Cost of Discipleship Reflection for Trinity 4

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered: “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 Love your neighbour as yourself.” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him,
“Go and do likewise.” Luke 10: 25-37

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We all want to be good disciples and live meaningful lives, and the young lawyer in this passage grasps the golden opportunity to check he’s on the right track, direct from the Lord in person. Jesus answers the man’s question with another, “What is written in the Law?”. The young man correctly recites the summary of the Law of Moses, but here’s the rub, we may be good at rattling off chapter and verse, but how about putting the theory into action? The true cost of discipleship comes in the next verse, “You have answered correctly, do this and you will live.” As Elvis would say, “A little less conversation, a little more action!” Of course, God wants more for us than to just live. He wants us to have lives filled to the brim, full of meaning, love, joy, and peace. But there’s clearly some doubt in this young man’s mind as to how much this is actually going to cost him. Mark Twain once said, “it’s not the parts of the Bible I don’t understand that bother me, it’s the part of the Bible that I do understand, that’s the part that really gets to me.”

To justify his hesitancy, the young man asks Jesus to be more specific, “Who is my neighbour?” Jesus, always happy to oblige, tells the story of the Good Samaritan, and in doing so – He ensures that we can never again plead ignorance to what it really means to be a disciple. The main thrust of the Good Samaritan is about choices. Should we stop to help, or should we pass by? As difficult as these choices might be, we certainly get the message from Jesus… the Samaritan made the right choice. He saw the wounded man and had compassion on him. But it takes more than compassion to follow his example, it takes courage and discipline. We all know that getting involved can be risky. Loving our neighbours requires both compassion and courage. Courage is the one virtue that makes all others possible. It takes compassion and courage to respond to the needs of others, but at the end of the day it’s what pleases our Lord of love.

I write this having just finished my Tax Return, checking that I pay what I owe and not a penny more. God’s spreadsheet doesn’t quite add up the same way. We’ll never balance that particular book! So, before counting the cost of discipleship, remember: God loves you and wants you to have life in abundance. He wants your neighbour to have that life too, and He’s waiting for you to be that Good Samaritan, whatever the cost.

Rev Geoff Eales, Associate Priest

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