Luke has us deep into a discussion of discipleship these days. He has sent out the demoniac to tell everyone of what God has done for him. He has warned us off from our assumptions that following Jesus will be easy and sweet. It may well involve deprivation, rejection, hardship, and losing everything for Christ. But on Sunday, in the sending of the 72 He gave us great hope. The one who receives us receives Christ, the one who rejects us rejects Christ. Christ is in this world. He is in and through us. Our words cause Satan’s fall. He has given us authority over the forces of evil. We can forgive sins (see the epistle reading for last week).
All this talk of discipleship might lead us to a shallow or facile reading of the text this week. It is the Parable of the Good Samaritan which has inspired the names of many hospitals, care homes, and other ministries. And that is good, but it might not be quite what our Lord has in mind with this parable. For he is disabusing the young lawyer who questioned him about what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus has put out a standard of neighborliness which the young man cannot meet. The discipleship point here is that all we do is an embodiment of Christ’s mercy. I am not earning a thing. Christ has earned it all. The young man was wondering what payment would get him access to the kingdom of heaven. Jesus tells him that it is far too expensive, it will require sacrifice, love, and care for your enemy – exactly what Jesus did on the cross.