The Book of Luke, The Good Samaritan - Lesson 136
Luke 10:25-37, And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 26He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? 27And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. 28And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. 29But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
These are not questions from a man who wants to know truth but from a man who believes he has truth and also believes that this man Jesus is false prophet.
So Jesus Christ, within this context, addresses his questions and challenges him to keep that which he believes in.
To the lawyer’s question as to inheriting eternal life, Jesus Christ responded by saying Go ahead and do what the law tells you and if you do, you will have life.
this do, and thou shalt live.
He does not tell the lawyer that what the law says is false but he tells him to completely fulfill the law and he shall live.
There was no response addressing as to how a sinner can completely fulfill the law but the lawyer willing to justify himself avoided that whole subject.
Justifying yourself is standing up for what you believe in order to reinforce that which you believe.
It is not having an interest in truth but only a desire to hold to that which you have invested in.
The lawyer desired to keep his beliefs intact because he had invested his whole life in his beliefs.
It is the natural thing to protect your investment especially that which has been a life long investment and that more than most, includes religious beliefs.
So the lawyer diverts his attention from this in order to justify himself and asks Jesus, “who is my neighbour?”
For loving his neighbor is one of the requirements of the law and therefore one of the requirements to inherit eternal life.
This expert in the Old Testament scriptures now begins to look for a technicality in the law itself.
He is seeking to find some excuse from the law that gets him off the hook.
He is trying to limit the set of people who are his neighbors.
For he certainly wants only to love people like himself, people worthy of his love.
There is no benefit or use to him in loving people like the heathen or even the Samaritans.
So he asks, who is my neighbor? Let’s get down to brass tacks and define this for me?
And make sure the list of neighbors is not very long.
I want to love neighbors that look like me, act like me, think like me and worship like me.
But the story of the Good Samaritan does not define the list of who is my neighbor but instead emphasizes the need to be a neighbor.
This lawyer wants to limit who his neighbor is but Christ concentrates on the being of a neighbor.
One thing we learn in the Christian life is that we cannot make others to fit what we want them to be.
My, how we concentrate on the faults of others hoping by our gossip to correct them when in fact we have no power to change anything about anyone else.
Our only power is in our will to allow God to work in us to make us what we should be.
That saying “NO DOUBT THE TROUBLE IS WITH YOU” is a good saying for it focuses on the one that you can affect.
This lawyer was looking for persons fit to be a neighbor but Jesus Christ was looking for this lawyer to be a neighbor.
And in looking for persons fit to be a neighbor this lawyer most likely would have limited his neighbor to his fellow Israelite and he would base it on Leviticus 19:18.
Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.
There is a way in which his thinking looks right on the basis of this verse alone but we are to rightly divide the word of truth.
We are to make sure that our conclusion fits the whole consul of God.
We are told elsewhere in the law that God loves the stranger; that is, God loves the non-Israelite.
Deuteronomy 10:18,19, He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. 19Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
God defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow and He loves the stranger.
God loves those of Israel but he also loves those not of Israel.
“For God so loved the world”
But in the Jewish mind of the day, the law belonged to the Jews and no one else.
But God says that the law applies equally to Jews and non-Jews, and we are not to interpret it differently.
Leviticus 24:22 tells us, Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the LORD your God.).
There are not two sets of laws, one for Israelites and one for the Gentiles:
Numbers 15:15,16, One ordinance shall be both for you of the congregation, and also for the stranger that sojourneth with you, an ordinance for ever in your generations: as ye are, so shall the stranger be before the LORD. 16One law and one manner shall be for you, and for the stranger that sojourneth with you.
Deuteronomy 1:16, And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him..
Leviticus 19:34a, But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God..
Jesus Christ would win any debating contest of Old Testament truths and he could have brought out these verses without a moment’s thought but he did not.
Jesus Christ does not engage in one-up-man-ship arguments and neither should we.
Instead he responds to the lawyer’s second question by telling a story, the story of the Good Samaritan.