Cover 2016-11-27

Ron Writes


This is one of the parables told only by Luke. You know the story. Showing mercy. Being nice. Being a neighbor. The story is so powerful that we overlook its purpose. Don’t forget context.

It starts with a lawyer, an expert in the OT law. He asks Jesus the most important question anyone can ask, ”what shall I do to inherit eternal life” (vs. 25)? Luke is quick to tell us it was a test. He was trying to catch Jesus, to trip Him up. To find fault. His motive wasn’t good. Jesus skillfully engages the lawyer. The lawyer gives an intelligent answer. Jesus responds, “do this and you will live.”

Wait a minute. Why did Jesus tell him this? Where’s the gospel here? Why didn’t He tell him “believe in Me”? Because there’s another issue here. It’s how the lawyer views himself. He wishes to justify himself. He thinks he keeps the law perfectly. How can Jesus convince this guy that he’s lost? This is the starting point of evangelism, how do I get him lost before I can get him saved? So Jesus tells this powerful, dramatic story. The purpose of this story is to crush this man’s self-righteousness.

We know from Mt. 5 that the rabbis taught “you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” They didn’t love their enemies. They didn’t love strangers. They didn’t even love their fellow Jew. Jesus turned the question around, from “who is my neighbor?” to “am I a neighbor?” What should have been the lawyer’s response? “I’ve never loved anyone like that.” The Samaritan loved this man as he loved himself. Do we do that all the time? Do we ever? Jesus tells a story about what it means to love God and love our neighbor.

It’s just too simple to say this is a story about going to the other side of the road and hugging somebody on food stamps. This is about salvation. You want eternal life? You know what God requires: perfection, loving Him perfectly and loving others as you love yourself. You don’t do that. You can’t do that. You need mercy. You need forgiveness. You need grace. You need a savior. And standing right in front of this lawyer was the only One who could forgive him and give eternal life.