Lectionary Scriptures: Amos 7:7-17, Psalm 82, Luke 10:25-37, Colossians 1:1-14
23 Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” 27 He answered, “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 your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” 29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’
36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
Can You See IT?
Imagine gathering a group of people and leading them on a walk. If we took the group of people into a room for five minutes, maybe fully decorated or maybe sparse in stimuli, and then later we asked them to report what they saw in the room. We would have many different answers. Some would see the bright colors and decorations, some would see things crooked or out of place, others would see dust, some would guess and get it wrong. Some of the answers are a result of the different perspectives (lens) we bring with us each day. For example, the artisans would notice the decorations, the OCD friends would see the things out of order or the dust and cobwebs. Maybe some would try to attach a story to the space. Those who are left guessing were probably talking to friends, distracted by a pressing task, or checking their phones.
All around us there are paintings and puzzles that have hidden meanings. Almost daily there are perception puzzles on Social Media. Remember the Jesus puzzle that I did with the kids this morning!
What does it mean to see something? As a child, I remember being told many times: Don’t judge a book by its cover! Imagine if all of the inhabitants of the earth were gathered together, classified, and judged as either perfect (no flaws or sins) and imperfect, we would be a sorry lot. Fortunately, our God is an awesome God who grants love, mercy, and grace to all who call Jesus, Lord and Savior. Thank you God for not judging us by our “covers”, our flaws, our imperfections, or our sins.
Let’s unpack how we see and how we are seen. Are there different levels of seeing? Seeing what’s on the surface vs. seeing what’s hidden within. What about those who have lost their sight? Beautiful visions!
Vision: the faculty or state of being able to see.
: the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom.
- “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17).
Rose-Colored Lens: seeing what is beautiful, what is good. When I wear my special glasses, I see the world differently. We can’t use this lens to block seeing the needs of others, the dirtiness, and the oppression, but with my rose-colored lenses I see hope and opportunity ordained through the power and strength of the Holy Spirit working within all who believe.
- Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. Philippians 4:8
Let us consider how today’s lectionary passages are connected and woven together.
Amos: Minor Prophet: lived with shepherds in Tekoa (10 m. south of Jerusalem)
- Not from a family of prophets, didn’t consider himself special
- Shepherd and grower of sycamore figs
- Lived and connected to a simple life: voice for the oppressed
- Amos did not choose to be a prophet.
- Amos holds God’s people accountable for their ill-treatment of others.
What does Amos see that others do not?
- Amos sees the
- Idol Worshippers
Amos calls out the corrupt priest and bravely delivers the Words that God has given to him. Of course, this priest is not going to take such accusations lying down. The prophetic work always disturbs those in the type of power that is contrary to justice and liberation. God does not support oppressive governments and systems. Those who occupy such power are seldom willing to relinquish it or make the type of adjustments that align with God’s will and way.
Amos, however, was confident in who he was and confident in what God had called him to do. Amos withstood the vicious attacks and stood firm in his faith.
Luke: We are joining where we left last time with the return of the seventy.
- Jesus has been sharing a dual message of be attentive in listening and faithful doers of the Word
- Today’s passage begins with vs. 25 during which a lawyer tests Jesus with a question regarding eternal life. “What must I do to inherit eternal life?
- Jesus responds with a question as he often does with those looking for loopholes in Jesus’ teaching.
- What is written in the Law? What do you read?
- Responds with “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 your neighbor as yourself.”
- Do this and you will have eternal life.
- What is written in the Law? What do you read?
- In his best lawyereese, “Who is my neighbor?”
- Jesus shares the parable of the Good Samaritan
- First two people are those who you would expect to help: a priest and a Levite
- The one who responds is a surprise (especially for one who is part of the inner circle of Pharisees): a Samaritan
- What did the priest see?
- Someone in need, but not worthy of his time. He didn’t want to get involved, so he crossed to the other side of the road.
- What did the Levite see?
- A beaten, dirty lump on the ground. He, too, did not want to get involved and crossed the road.
- What did the Samaritan see?
- Saw only the need, moved to pity, ran to help, cared for him not just in the moment, but until he no longer needed care.
What would we see?
- Would we see as the priest and Levite, or would we see through the lens of the Samaritan? The lens Chist modeled for all is seeing from within the heart.
- Through the lens of Christ, there are no distractions as to outward appearance or earthly norms.
- Can we let go of our preconceived notions, and see as Christ sees?
God unconditionally loves us and grants us grace and mercy. All God’s people say: Amen. When God looks at us, He sees our mistakes and imperfections, but instead of letting us drown in them, He has made provisions to cover us.
- God sees our sin, but through His conviction He points us to His love. “Love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
- God sees our weakness, but He carries us in His strength. “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ “ Isaiah 41:10
- And while the enemy calls us out and accuses us; God calls us up and forgives us.
How can He do this? Because of the cross.
At the end of the parable, Christ turns the conversation back to the lawyer with a question: 36 “Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
Our final passage today is from Colossians 1: A time of prayer: Grace and peace to you from God our Father.
9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,
Paul is sharing the righteousness that he sees among the people of Colossae and confirms the understanding that they have received what they truly need from the very first time they heard the gospel. Paul is directly connecting the reality that the gospel has created in their lives with the way they now conduct their lives on a daily basis.
The Revised Standard Version translation of Hebrews 4:13 reads, “And before him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” Our Savior sees each of us perfectly. The only way that we will be able to see as He sees is to become more like Him.
Jesus’ death and resurrection give us an opportunity to walk in newness; to put on a new identity. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now when God looks, He sees someone who is forgiven. He sees a whole new you.
Open our eyes and let us see glimpses of truth thou has for me.
Silently now I wait for Thee, Ready, my God, Thy will to see; Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit Divine!
Lord, how are we ever going to be your disciples? We are overwhelmed by the needs of the world. The cries of people who feel threatened by others, those who are in need, those who are in danger, those who are alienated, ring in our ears and in our hearts. Sometimes we would just like to run and hide, hoping that all this turmoil will go away. But it doesn’t. It sits outside our doors and waits for us to do something. Lord, help that “Something” be service and compassion. Help us to remember how you have forgiven and blessed each one of us, how you have called us blessed and beloved. You remind us in today’s scripture of the compassion a Samaritan had on one who was injured. We like that story, but now is the time for us to take that story to heart. We are called to reach beyond our comfort zone, to those in need, to the alien, the injured, the lost, the lonely. It is difficult for us to do and we need to feel your powerful presence with us. Bless us again, O Lord, with a good measure of courage and strength that we may truly serve you. Bless those whose names and situations we have brought before you today for healing and hope. In your mercy and love, help us to reach out to others as you have reached out to us. For we ask these things in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.