Day 112: The Neighbors and the Law (Part One)

Luke 10:25-37 :

Behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?”

He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”

He said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this, and you will live.”

But he, desiring to justify himself, asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”

Jesus answered, “A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who both stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. By chance a certain priest was going down that way. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. In the same way a Levite also, when he came to the place, and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he traveled, came where he was. When he saw him, he was moved with compassion, came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. He set him on his own animal, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, and gave them to the host, and said to him, ‘Take care of him. Whatever you spend beyond that, I will repay you when I return.’ Now which of these three do you think seemed to be a neighbor to him who fell among the robbers?”

He said, “He who showed mercy on him.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

It is curious that this lawyer asked Jesus a question that he already knew the answer to. I have observed this behavior in myself. Sometimes, when I am trying to get out of doing something, I will attempt to parse words to make sure that I really have to do what is being asked. This man was “desiring to justify himself” after he accurately stated the law. Clearly, the law was an effective method of distributing truth. Jesus, who was God, came to the earth and there, in Israel, the law was already well understood. I bring this up because some atheists claim that God has done a poor job of revealing Himself. This is clearly incorrect. I have been told that the Bible is still the world’s best selling printed book since it was produced on the first printing press in Germany. There really is no other book like it at all. The only excuse we have for not knowing God and His requirements is that we don’t want to. Mankind is still “desiring to justify himself.” The fact is, the law doesn’t make us look very good. Instead of showing how great we are, it shows us that we aren’t good enough.

As I mentioned before, the full-blooded Jews and the half-blooded Samaritans were not on good terms with each other so when Jesus tells this parable, He is making a big contrast between the very religious Jewish priests, and Levites. I would guess that many in Israel would not consider a Samaritan their “Neighbor” yet this is what Jesus is saying by putting the audience in the position of the helpless man. Jesus was a master at making main characters out of lowly people. This time He made the hero out of “a certain Samaritan.”

Notice that Jesus wasn’t really interested in the physical location of a person’s neighbor. He was more interested that we be neighbors to anyone who was in need.