Summary: Part three of this series focuses on the story of the Good Samaritan and the lawyer's reaction to the story that Jesus told in response to his question.
An Elitist Mentality Part 3
Scripture: Luke 10:25-37
In September I stood before you and shared with you part two of my series titled “An Elitist Mentality.” This morning I want to conclude this series by showing you an extremely clear example of how this mentality can show up in a Christian and through that same example, show you how it should show up within a Christian. As a reminder, an elitist is “a person or class of persons considered superior by others or by themselves, as in intellect, talent, power, wealth, or position in society.” I will once again ask you to focus on that part of the definition “considered superior by themselves.” Please turn with me to Luke chapter ten which tells the story of the Good Samaritan.
“And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ And He said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?’ And he answered, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ And He said to him, ‘You have answered correctly; DO THIS AND YOU WILL LIVE.’ (Vss. 25-28)
This story opens with a lawyer asking Jesus the question pertaining to eternal life. The lawyer's first question was intended to ‘tempt’ Jesus, to determine either His Jewish beliefs and/or practices and Jesus walks calmly through the snare, as if not seeing it. His answer is unquestionably orthodox and suggested that the question was needless, since one (the lawyer) so learned in the law knew well enough what were the conditions of inheriting life contained within it. The lawyer knew the Law too well to be at a loss as to what to answer was. The lawyer’s reply was the same response that Jesus had actually given to the Pharisees when He had argued with them earlier (Matthew 22; Mark 12.) When the lawyer gave his reply Jesus told him he had gotten the answer correct. Jesus’ reply has a marked tone of authority which puts the lawyer in his right place. While his answer is commended, his actual practice is implicitly condemned by one who knows and has a right to judge. When Jesus told him “Do this and you will live” the lawyer knew that Jesus knew he was not doing this currently. The lawyer might have loved God but that other piece about loving your neighbor as yourself caused him to rethink his position. Let’s continue.
But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’ (Vs. 29) The lawyer feels the prick and as is his practice, he seeks to ‘justify’ his lifestyle – which we all so often do. He did not think that his love of God needed any further justification as he had fully done his duty there so he asks another question about who is his neighbor. Just like a lawyer he focuses on a question about the meaning of the word “neighbor.” Jesus answers with the lovely story of the Good Samaritan. In the Lawyer’s mind a neighbor was someone you knew and loved. Jesus gave him a deeper insight according to how God sees the relationship. The main purpose in the story Jesus tells him is to show how far off men may be and yet still be neighbors. The lawyer's question, ‘Who is my neighbor?’ is turned round the other way in Christ’s form of it at the close. It is better to ask ‘Whose neighbor am I?’ versus ‘Who is my neighbor?’ The lawyer wanted to know how far his obligation extended (which he had no intention of going an inch farther than he was obligated.) When you look at the lawyer’s question in reverse: “Whose neighbor am I?” we find that it really speaks to proactive actions versus reactive actions. If I consider myself to be everyone’s neighbor, I put myself out there to help before I am asked. However, if I pick and choose who “my” neighbors are, then in that process I pick and choose who I will help when called upon. Do you see the difference that Jesus was making with this lawyer?
He probably had in his thought the Rabbinical limitations which made it as much duty to ‘hate thine enemy’ as to ‘love thy neighbor.’ Probably, too, he accepted the national limitations, which refused to see any neighbors outside the Jewish people. As I stated earlier, ‘neighborhood,’ in his judgment, implied ‘nearness,’ and he wished to know how far off the boundaries of the region was included in this command. There are many people today who think just as this lawyer did that our obligation to others is a matter of geography, and that love can be bound by distance. But Christ’s way of putting the question sweeps all such limitations aside. Let’s read the example that Jesus told the lawyer in respond to his question as to who was his neighbor. Let’s continue with verse thirty.