Summary: Parable of the good Samaritan.
20. Who is Jesus?
January 16th, 2010
Who is your Neighbor?
Well I am back from a little vacation with my wife and we are back to study into our series through the Gospel of Luke. We are in Luke 10:25. This is a story most of you are probably familiar with. It is one of the most powerful stories ever told. You know it as the story of the good Samaritan. Here is what happens: an expert in Mosaic Law comes to test Jesus with a complex question about eternal life. We are getting closer to the end of Jesus ministry and opposition against Him is pretty high at this point.
The religious leaders have viewed Jesus as a threat for awhile. They have tried to catch Him with questions and discredit Him but so far have been unable to do so. Well now Jesus is heading from the boondocks to the big city. What was once a threat on the horizon has now come to their doorstep. Jesus is menacing. He is a revolutionary and He threatens the power the religious leaders are enjoying. The religious leaders get their power from the people. Jesus is popular. If they publicly stand against Jesus they will lose their power. So they take a more devious approach.
Jesus is a teacher. He travels teaching people about the kingdom of God and answering their questions. As genuine followers are honestly asking Jesus questions it would be easy for Him to drop His guard. So the religious leaders send in spies to test Jesus. Amidst all the questions being asked, they toss in their little traps trying to snare Jesus into saying something inaccurate that they can use against Him.
Lk 10:25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Lk 10:26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” Lk 10:27 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.’’” Lk 10:28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” Lk 10:29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Now we don’t know that this expert in the law is a spy seeking to catch Jesus off guard but we have good reason to be suspicious of him. There are hundreds of laws in the Old Testament and thousands of oral traditions. How can we know which ones are essential for gaining eternal life? His intention for asking may not be known but the condition of his heart is made apparent by how he responds to Jesus.
It is would be very easy to answer this question incorrectly. Jesus responds very wisely. He has the man answer the question himself. This is not a cope out, Jesus knows the answer. Jesus is merely turning the question around on the man to show him the answer. The man answers his own question very adequately. In fact this guy’s answer to the question is the same answer Jesus gives for the most important command of God: which is to love God with all your heart, mind, and strength. The Jews would have considered this the greatest commandment and it was known as the Shema.