Luke chapters 9 and 10 appear to be busy times for Christ; Jesus sends out the twelve and the 72, He feeds 5,000, is transfigured, and is doing other preaching and healing. Although these events may not have happened in as close proximity of time as they appear, I think the stories flow from one another for a purpose.
During the New Testament period there was considerable tensions between Jews and Samaritans, and they had no contact with one another. They would avoid being in each other’s territory and speaking with each other. Sometimes the confrontations were violent. Jesus particularly hates disharmony among all of his kids. One of God’s ultimate goals is for all people to come together: After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands (Revelation 7:9). Considering all of this it is curios to notice that so many Bible verses relate to the Samaritans.
As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them. Then he and his disciples went to another village. (Luke 9:51-56)
Here we see three things: the division exhibited by the Samaritans rejection, James and John wanting to destroy them, and Jesus rebuking them for their animosity. Next we see grace extended to the Samaritans.
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 neighbor 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 neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by 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 traveled, 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, 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 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 neighbor 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
Jesus wasn’t asking his followers to just be tolerant of a group of people they found bad, but is encouraging them to help them, even to the point of inconvenience and money.
Why does God want Christians to be generous givers, especially those who we don’t get along with? There are many reasons, including it reflects Him, we experience joy, we work with Him in doing good works, it leads others to consider Him, it brings unity among all of His kids. Futhermore, it helps to detach us from being so focused on materialism.
Lord help me to be more generous this week, to my co-workers, family and friends, and especially to those I don’t normally want to be generous to.