LEADERS GUIDE Topic: The Greatest Commandment: Part 2 - Love Your Neighbor as Yourself
The primary idea you need to keep revisiting during this Following Jesus Pathway is that we are following and being formed by Jesus. This pathway can be learned simply or in great depth. We trust that you as a leader know your people and the dynamics of your group well enough to adapt and impart this topic with grace and wisdom.
This guide is designed to help you and others follow and be formed by Jesus. Remember to keep it Jesus-Centered.
We pray that you will be Spirit-Led and Spirit- Empowered as you lead and learn together.
Brief Commentary and Context
(Answer this question here: What did this mean in the original context and how is it set in the larger story of the Bible?)
The Church Overview: "THREE LOVES" described in "THREE WORDS"
Prayerful (Love God): All of life in God’s presence.
Family (Love One Another): All of life with God’s people.
Mission (Love the World): All of life with God’s passion.
We follow Jesus every day in every area of our life, 24-7. We don’t follow Jesus as individuals only, but as a family of families consumed with His love, power and presence. The primary way we express this shared life is in The Church. Following Jesus means that we love what He loves and share in His dreams. It means we dive deep into His Father, His family, His Spirit, His story and His world. Jesus suffered and died for all people, rich or poor, from all cultures and contexts. His passion was to bring home a hurting humanity and make beautiful a damaged creation. He called all people to follow Him, and called His followers to join His mission.
Brief Commentary for Luke 10:25-37 (The Good Samaritan)
Like a master of Jiu Jitsu, Jesus' opponents often found the force they used to ‘test’ Jesus turned back towards their own hearts and the question they came with turned upside down. This was the case in the famous parable of the “Good Samaritan” as it’s famously titled. A title that for a first century Jew would be a completely offensive oxymoron.
An expert of the law seeking to “test” Jesus, asked about the requirements for inheriting eternal life. As usual, Jesus responded with a question of his own. “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” The lawyer was ready with the right answer and Jesus affirmed him for it. “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 and your neighbor as yourself.” The man was right on and Jesus responded, “you have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” But this is where the story takes a dramatic turn and the expert's heart is revealed. Often we have the right answer but not the right motive.
Luke gives us a look into the lawyer's motive letting us know that the man’s question back to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor” was about his desire to justify himself. Here is where the master teacher shows his genius through telling a gripping and provocative story. A little context is required to grasp the full weight of Jesus’ parable.
A deep seated animosity went back hundreds of years between the Jews and Samaritans to the divided kingdom of Israel and Judah. The Jews understood themselves as God’s covenant people and despised the Samaritans for their history of intermarrying with Assyrians, idolatry and sin. The feud widened between these people groups down through the centuries until the time of Jesus. Jews carried such prejudice that they avoided even going through the region of Samaria and instead would walk the often dangerous desert road in the east from Jerusalem to Jericho and then north.
A man in Jesus’ story takes this road and is beaten severely. A priest and a Levite saw the man and passed by doing nothing to help. Two highly respected positions in Jewish culture looked to as a model of righteousness. Perhaps they didn’t help because they did not want to become ceremonially unclean or were too concerned with what they had to do or some other reason? Then Jesus introduces a Samaritan into the story. This man, thought to be unrighteous according to the law, shows incredible compassion and mercy and generously cares for this Jewish man who had been passed by his own religious leaders. Jesus turns their enemy into the hero and example of love.
Jesus’ next question is where we see the reversal that turns everything upside down. “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among robbers?” The expert in the law sought to justify himself according to the law by narrowing the perimeters of who deserves love and mercy. Jesus is not interested in who qualifies as a ‘neighbor’ in our narrow view, but in if we will ‘be a neighbor’ and so fulfill the law of love. Would this teacher of the law consider being a neighbor to the hated Samaritans if the situation was reversed? The lawyer answered Jesus’ question, “The one who showed him mercy.”
Jesus exhorts the man to “Go, and do likewise.” This is a call to active, self-sacrificial love in Christ. Will we love as we have been loved? Will we extend the grace and mercy of our God even beyond our comfort, differences and prejudices? Will we be the neighbor for others that we desire ourselves? Let us love and so fulfill the law in Christ!
Core Truths from the topic
Summary Scripture: Matthew 22:36-39- “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
1 Peter 4:8- “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
1 John 4:7-10- “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
1 John 4:19-21- “We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”
Matthew 5:43-48- “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Extra Resources to help you Prepare
Anyone new in your home church?
Things to Consider:
Is the new individual, or family organically connecting with anyone in your home church? Suggest a coffee hang to begin a deeper connection, or consider having the individual/family over for an easy dinner to get to know them better.
Is the new individual, or family interested in receiving communication via text, or email? If so, have them email firstname.lastname@example.org with their name and phone number.
Do they plan to attend All Navah Gatherings? If yes and it is a new family, they can email email@example.com with their name, their children(s) name, DOB and grade to make for a smooth kids ministry check-in process.