Summary: Luke 10:25-37 Tells us who we are responsible to if we are good neighbours.
PENTECOST 6: 11 JULY 2004
Who Is My Neighbour?
25 “A teacher of the Law came up and tried to trap Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to receive eternal life?” 26 Jesus answered him, “What do the Scriptures say? How do you interpret them?” 27 The man answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind’; and ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’” 28 "You are right," Jesus replied; "do this and you will live." 29 But the teacher of the Law wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "Who is my neighbor?" 30 Jesus answered, "There was once a man who was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when robbers attacked him, stripped him, and beat him up, leaving him half dead. 31 It so happened that a priest was going down that road; but when he saw the man, he walked on by on the other side. 32 In the same way a Levite also came there, went over and looked at the man, and then walked on by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan who was traveling that way came upon the man, and when he saw him, his heart was filled with pity. 34 He went over to him, poured oil and wine on his wounds and bandaged them; then he put the man on his own animal and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ’Take care of him,’ he told the innkeeper, ’and when I come back this way, I will pay you whatever else you spend on him.’ ” 36 And Jesus concluded, "In your opinion, which one of these three acted like a neighbor toward the man attacked by the robbers?" 37 The teacher of the Law answered, "The one who was kind to him." Jesus replied, "You go, then, and do the same."
The story today is a human story with a divine message and it tells in a wonderful way who we are responsible to if we are good neighbours.
We can look at this story in many ways, so I thought we could look at it in terms of a medical case, using medical terminology.
We all understand medical terms, so it may be a helpful way to think of the story.
Before we do that, let us think about how this story came to be.
Jesus is approached by a teacher of the law of God and asked: “what is the way to get eternal life.” If the lawyer was asking in a casual way, only interested in discussing the arguments that could be brought forward from the law of God, if he wanted theological banter in other words, he was asking the wrong question, since Jesus was not there simply to argue philosophy.
As Matthew Henry says in his commentary, Jesus was there to answer questions to do with the practicalities of life now and hereafter. Matthew Henry, comparing the lawyer to those who come to church out of curiosity, merely to see what is being said but not to take it to heart themselves and make it part of their lives, he says: “It is not enough to speak of the things of God, and to enquire about them, but we must do it with a suitable concern.” (MH Com. on Lk 10:25, e-sword Bible)
Compassionate preaching must be followed with compassionate listening.
A second point is that Jesus referred the lawyer back to the law of God that both of them knew so well. The man would have to admit, as we all do if we have come to our senses, that none of us have lived so as to gain eternal life. Why not? Because we are not perfect. Most people, even in church do not know what the Bible teaches on this. Yes, we know we are not perfect, but we do not measure ourselves against God’s holy standard of perfection, instead we compare ourselves with other people. We know people who are better than we are.
Besides that, we want to be in many respects like others, or we do not want to say we are better than anyone else. We know we have faults and, if asked, we admit we are far from perfect.
Jesus’ point is that to be able to gain eternal life, we have to be able to obey all God’s commands perfectly. To do this you have to be perfect.
It is the only exam in life in which you have to get 100%, without fail, every moment of every day, of every week, of every year of your whole life! None of us can do that, as we sin often, every day. So to gain eternal life, we are dependent on “Someone” else to gain it or to buy it for us. Jesus Christ lived for us and died on the cross to buy back what we lost by our sin. It is called redemption. The perfect Saviour did it all for us. He saw our dilemma and had compassion on us. He bought us back by the price of His own blood, and through faith, we are set free from the law of sin and death.