Jesus is the founder of the Christian religion, but what if I told you He did not come to set up a religion? Well, give me a chance to explain.
Jesus didn’t come to set up a new religious system where people were encouraged to follow rules. Instead, Jesus had other plans. Read this story Jesus told in Luke 10, then I’ll share a few thoughts.
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 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. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 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. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[e] 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.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
I love this short story Jesus told in Luke 10. The Samaritans were hated, regarded as scum by Jews and Jesus told a story where two religious people, who were expected to care for people, ignored a dying man. While a Samaritan didn’t just stop to help, but did so much more. The hero of the story was a hated Samaritan.
This story shows us two important things:
1) Being religious doesn’t mean anything in relation to our salvation.
You go to church, read your Bible, and you’re the one who prays at holidays, but that doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have genuine love for people. Jesus was anti-religion. He didn’t come to set up a new rule system. Instead, He came to show the system was broken and that the only remedy for sin was to follow Him. Reliance on Him as King is the only way to navigate through the many ups-and-downs of life.
2) Following Jesus isn’t for those who look like they have it all together.
The priest and the Levite in this story were the people who everyone looked at and said, “Wow. I can’t be that holy like him. I’m done too much wrong to be that good of a person”. But this story shows us that nothing should hinder us from following Jesus. He doesn’t care about what others think of you, or, even worse, what you think of you. You might have done some things you aren’t proud of, but Jesus, and His unconditional love and forgiveness, is right in front of you. Jesus cares more about what you are doing than what you have done. And Luke 10 shows that.
The Priest and the Levite represent religion. They did a lot of things for God, since they thought that was what God wanted them to do. Jesus knew the heroes of that day was the prideful, self-righteous people who loved to be seen when they were praying, but Jesus was/is desiring a different sorta man.
Jesus desires sons and daughters who faithfully follow Him, not out of duty, but out of love. We shouldn’t do things because we think we have to, much like the Priest and Levite passing the wounded man. They were in a rush to the temple and didn’t want to impure themselves, since it would make them ceremonially unclean. They’d then miss out of being in the temple and other religious activities. In other words, they were thinking of themselves when they should have bene thinking of others.
When you and I realize we were bought by the blood of Jesus and not by works of ourselves, God’s grace is the air we breathe. His grace and love become the home where we live, which, in turn, leads us to be focused on others. When we try to earn our salvation we focus on ourselves, since we have to make sure to be spotless, free from sin, since, you know, we are earning our salvation. However, if we could earn salvation, then Christ’s death is a sham. He died then for nothing, but we, who are of the faith, know that His death isn’t a sham, it’s instead the hope of the world. When he breathed His last breath up on the cross, we began to breathe our first breath in the home of His grace.
In conclusion, Jesus didn’t come to set up a new religious system, where rules are obeyed for immoral reasons. He’s looking for much more. He’s looking for sons and daughters. Obedience is embedded in being a son or a daughter, but sons and daughters usually obey out of love. That’s what Jesus is looking for.