In the jungle by the River Kwai, a miracle was taking place. Ernest Gordon had been through the most terrible years imaginable as a prisoner of the Japanese during world war two. But together with many of the men he was entering into the Kingdom of God, when they read in the bible about Jesus forgiving His enemies as He was being crucified (autobiography – ‘To End All Wars’ by Ernest Gordon).
It wasn’t easy at first as they realised they hated their enemies, but gradually their hearts were changed as they desired to be disciples of Jesus and make Him Lord of their lives. Just before the war ended, and they were being transferred to another camp, they saw some wounded Japanese soldiers on a train. They rushed to bathe their wounds and give them water to drink from their own rations. The Japanese guards tried to stop them, and some other prisoners were angry with them for helping the enemy. Ernest Gordon asked if they had never heard of the story of ‘the Good Samaritan’.
A scribe once heard religious leaders disputing with Jesus and asked which of God’s commandments was the most important. Jesus told him it was to love God with one’s heart, soul, mind and strength, but the second most important was to love one’s neighbour as oneself (Mark 12:29-31). The scribe was in absolute agreement and said this was worth more than any sacrifices and burnt offerings. Jesus told him he was not far from the Kingdom of God.
On another occasion lawyer asked how we can inherit eternal life? Jesus asked him what he’d read in God’s law and how he’d understood it. The lawyer quoted the exact words that Jesus had spoken to the scribe. Jesus then told him to live it, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live” (Luke 10:25-28).
These two most important commandments came from a combination of verses found in Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18. Jesus was putting them together and shining a laser beam of light on to them, bringing them into a sharp focus. Jesus Himself lived out these two commandments in a perfect way. He always totally surrendered His will to God His Father in loving obedience and He loved all the people, even praying for those who were torturing Him and putting Him to death on the cross.
But the lawyer had a wrong heart attitude of wanting to justify himself, and he persisted in asking awkward questions. He wanted to know who his neighbour was. Jesus told him the story which has become known as ‘the Story of the Good Samaritan’. The Samaritan showed compassion and mercy to a person who could be regarded as hostile towards his race.
It was a miracle of grace that enabled Ernest and the other prisoners to show love and mercy to their enemies. When liberation from their captivity eventually came, the weary men all begged their liberators not to shed any more blood in revenge for all the atrocities that had been done.
Prayer: Dear loving, heavenly Father, I bring to You my struggle to follow Lord Jesus as a true disciple and to follow His example of love and compassion towards His enemies. May my love for You increase more and more each day, and may I learn to how love my neighbour as myself. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
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