Summary: “We pray ‘that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” Colossians 1:9-10.
Theme: The reward of being faithful to Christ
Text: Deut. 30:9-14; Col. 1:1-14; Lk. 10:25-37
Today’s gospel reading is about a lawyer who tried to test Jesus by asking the question “what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” The purpose of the question was to give the lawyer an opportunity to question Jesus’ understanding of the Law. The question, however, implied that he was relying on himself to do something to earn eternal life. The question would have been more appropriate if he had asked “How does one inherit eternal life?” Like so many people in the world today, the lawyer in today’s parable thought of eternal life as something that could be earned by keeping the Law, by performing good works, rather than something that is freely given because of the grace of God. Eternal life is not about what we can do for God, but rather about what God has done for us. As the lawyer rightly stated eternal life is inherited. It is something that is inherited because of a relationship with Christ. It is not something you receive because of what you have done. It is something you receive because of what Christ has done. Christ went to the cross and shed His blood for the forgiveness of sin. By believing and accepting what Christ has done on our behalf we are born into the kingdom of God as joint heirs with Christ. “And this is eternal life that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent”. (John 17:3) Christ paid the price for our salvation and the least we can do is to be faithful to Him.
We have every reason in the world to be faithful to Christ as He is the source of our eternal life. We all need Christ to set us free “For the law of the Spirit of life sets us free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death”. (Rom. 8:2) The lawyer, a scholar and expert in Old Testament Law, relied on the Law and so Christ answered him by referring him to what was written in the Law. Christ is the One who has set us free and our faithfulness is to Him. The Law pointed to Christ and because the lawyer relied on the Law and not on Christ, he had no difficulty with the reply. “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 neighbour as yourself”. (Luke 10:27). Jesus commended him for his answer and advised him to go and put into practice what the Law demanded. The lawyer knew the whole Law had to be kept and that it was impossible for him to keep it just as it was for everyone else. The only person to have ever kept the Law was our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and for this reason the Law cannot save us.
The Law was not given to save us but to point us to sin and to our need for a Saviour. Paul refers to the Law “as the ministry of death carved in letters on stone”. (2 Cor. 3:7) For this reason immediately the Law was given God instituted the offering of sacrifices that would cover their sin for a period. The Jews were not forgiven because they kept the Law; they were forgiven because of the blood of the animals that they sacrificed for without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. These sacrifices pointed to the ultimate sacrifice that would forever remove sins, the blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. At the first Pentecost when the Law was given, the result was the death of 3000 people. However on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was given the result was the salvation of 3000 souls. Like so many people in the world today, the lawyer in today’s story thought of eternal life as something that could be earned by keeping the Law. Eternal life is not about what we can do for God, but rather about what God has done for us. Christ shed His blood for us and all we need to do is accept by faith what Christ has done for us and confess Him as our Saviour and Lord.
The Law points to sin but has no power to deal with it. Christ dealt with sin once and for all and empowers believers to live without sin. The lawyer knew the Law and quoted it correctly but the Law could not empower him to deal with sin. When Jesus told him to do what the Law demanded to live his conscience bothered him because in the presence of the truth he knew he had fallen short. Yes he may love his relatives and friends but what about the others. Were they not also his neighbours? What about the Samaritans? Did he also love them? He did not because the Jews had no love for the Samaritans. In fact they hated them and would have no dealings with them. This was because they were a half breed and not fully Jewish. This was the reason why the Samaritan woman at the well was so surprised when Jesus spoke to her. “The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) (John 4:9) What about the Gentiles? The Jews also did not have any love for the Gentiles either. They referred to everyone who was not a Jew as a Gentile. For the lawyer and a majority of Jews the law to love your neighbour as yourself did not apply to everyone. To justify himself the lawyer looked for a loophole in the law by asking Jesus who his neighbour was.