Given By Paul Stevens February 25, 2018

Our inspiration comes from the reading from Luke about the good Samaritan. This is one of the passages that the historical Jesus is credited with saying. Our guest, Paul Stevens, speaks to us about the importance of learning about the historical Jesus. The religion that Jesus taught is different than the 4th century version of Christianity that many follow today.  Many things in the gospels are not historical. Scholars are looking at all aspects impacting the gospels; 1st Century Jewish culture, the Roman Empire’s impact, and the Hellenistic impact on Jewish life. They want to know who wrote them, when they wrote them, to whom they were written, why they wrote them, and what is historical. all the gospels were written long after Jesus’s death. Mark was written 40 years later, Matthew was written 15 years after that, Luke 15 years after Matthew, and John was not written until the turn of the 1st century. In order to appeal to those outside the Jewish communities, the writers tone down Jesus’s teachings. They made Jesus fit into the world of the Romans and made his teachings more understandable. The story of the good Samaritan is found only in Luke. It explains what it means to be a good neighbor. It was written in Greek so the story was aimed more towards the educated who either spoke or could read Greek. There were no priests or Levites in Luke’s day though. The Jewish temple had been destroyed by then. It makes more sense when we consider the significance of the Samaritans, priests, and Levites in relation to Jewish culture in Jesus’s day. The priests and Levites were seen as agents of the Roman Empire and were disliked by the Jews. Samaritans were considered to be lower than the Jews and also disliked. This was really a story of loving your enemy. Today, few would admit to having enemies. Most of us have people we just do not feel comfortable being around. Those who are different make us uneasy. It is these people that Jesus sought out. Gays, immigrants, minorities, homeless, and those of different faiths or races are just some examples in today’s society. Our church is one of inclusion and acceptance so …bring the Samaritans to Pilgrim for all are welcome.