One of the blessings of living in Alaska is that you don’t have to travel to enjoy a world-class tourist experience. I took a vacation last week while my parents were here visiting from Montana, and with them my family played tourist for several days. We started by spending a couple of nights in Seward, a favorite place for our family to visit. After kayaking a mile down Resurrection Bay (the picture above is my dad and our guide), we stopped to explore a creek filled with spawning salmon. A bald eagle perched right above the trail, keeping a watchful eye on us but letting us get close enough for pictures. On the way back to Wasilla we stopped at Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, another favorite place of ours to visit. There we hiked up the “North Face” of the mountain and rode the gondola back down (the ride down is free!). Later in the week, we visited Independence Mine in Hatcher Pass, a once-bustling gold mine perched high in the Talkeetna Mountain Range. What a privilege to enjoy such a beautiful corner of God’s creation, and all within a few hours of home.
Since I took the week off from my church responsibilities, Rev. Bernie Van Ee filled the pulpit for me last Sunday morning (August 19th). I did not hear his sermon but I’m told it was excellent. You can listen to it here on our website.
The previous Lord’s Day, August 19th, I preached on the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). In response to a lawyer’s legalist question, “And who is my neighbor?,” Jesus told a parable of a robbery victim who was helped not by the Jewish priest and Levite who callously passed him by, but by a Samaritan, a man whose people was despised by the Jews. The point of the parable was the answer to the lawyer’s question: you must be the neighbor to the one in need.
And Jesus told the lawyer, and he tells us: “You go, and do likewise” (v. 37). My neighbor is not the one who shares my race, or nationality, or politics, or even my faith. My neighbor is the person in need whom I can help. He may be a stranger or a family member. Anytime I can help another I am that person’s neighbor.
The One who taught this parable is the greater “good Samaritan.” Jesus came to us in our need, when were not merely half-dead but fully dead in our sin. And he loved us, cared for us, healed us, and gave us new life. Only as you look to Christ by faith as your Savior can you begin to fulfill the command of Jesus to “go, and do likewise.” May God give us grace to overcome our callousness, fear, and unwillingness to trouble ourselves, to show the love of Christ to others in need and so prove ourselves to be, like the Good Samaritan, a true neighbor.
Soli Deo Gloria!