Summary: An expository message focusing on the confrontation between Jesus and an expert in the law.
Getting our Hands Dirty – Luke 10:25-37
By Pastor John Stensrud
Luke 10:25 On one occasion a lawyer [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?" 27 He answered "’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, ’Love your neighbor as yourself.’" 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 fell into the hands of 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, (a.) he took pity on him. 34 He (b.) went to him and (b.) bandaged his wounds, (c.) pouring on oil and wine. Then (d.) he put the man on his own donkey, (e.) took him to an inn and (f.) took care of him. 35 The next day (g.) he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ’Look after him,’ he said, ’and (h.) 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."
A man woke up in a hospital bed and called for his doctor. He asked, "Give it to me straight. How long have I got?" The physician replied that he doubted that the man would survive the night.
The man then said, "Call for my lawyers." When the lawyers arrived, the man asked for one lawyer to stand on one side of the bed, while the other lawyer stood on the other. The man then laid back and closed his eyes. When he remained silent for several minutes, the physician asked what he had in mind. The man replied: "Jesus died with a thief on either side. I just thought I’d check out the same way."
Lawyers have gotten a bad rap from time immemorial. They are sometimes called shysters, ambulance chasers, and some names that I care not to repeat here this morning. Today we will learn about a certain religious lawyer who tried to trap Jesus with carefully conceived arguments. It ended up that the lawyer was caught in his own web of trickery.
Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem. Just prior to this event, Jesus had sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?" It’s curious then, that in spite of this, Jesus uses a Samaritan as the hero of the story.
The parable itself takes place on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. It was 17 miles of rough, winding road; plenty of places for robbers to hide. Dangerous journey. Like driving into the south side of Chicago with an out-of-state plate.
Our text can be broken down into 3 parts or scenes:
I. The Ploy – vss. 25-29
II. The Parable – vss. 30-35
III. The Principle Vss. – 36-37
1. The Ploy
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?"
Jesus answered him in not so many words, but if we read between the lines, “Eternal life is a gift from God, and when you get it you’ll be like the Samaritan who helped even his enemies.”
This is the main idea of the passage: If you understand this, you understand the meaning of our text. This legal expert is the central figure of this passage. He has the lead role. The parable that Jesus tells him is for his benefit.
Unfortunately, this religious legal beagle gives a classic example of the religious mindset of that time: salvation by works. It’s kind of like the lawyer was asking: "Teacher, is there some new law, some esoteric teaching, or some special work project I could do that would qualify me to inherit eternal life? He hoped that once the Lord told him, he could just do it and then receive eternal life. He was a Nike Jew – He wanted to Just Do It.