Tuesday, October 25th. Luke 10:25-37

Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

 

Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:25-37

 

This story of the Good Samaritan is one of those Bible stories that everyone knows.  We can’t remember when we first learned it.  Here too, familiarity breeds contempt.  Let’s listen to it with new ears.

 

We start with the initial question.  The lawyer (read: scholar of Jewish law, not pin striped graduate of Harvard) comes to Jesus with a simple question.  “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”  We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt so we will imagine this to be a question posed without guile.  He isn’t looking to trick or trap Jesus.  He really wants to know the answer.

 

But it IS a tricky question.  It comes out of a set of very common preconceived ideas. 1) There really is something called “eternal life.”  2) There is something we have to do to earn it.

 

Those are common ideas.  People wrestle with such questions all the time.  They are questions that lurk back in the dark recesses of life.  They emerge when life gets difficult or one hears of tragedy or gets bad news from the doctor.  People look around and wonder, “Is this all there is?”

 

Equally common is the idea that you get what you work for.  Even when it comes to spirituality or eternal life.  No one gets a free lunch.  (Actually, lots of people get free lunches.  The thing is, if you are wealthy and the free lunch is on someone else’s expense account, we think that is pretty cool.  But if you’re a kid from a poor family and your free lunch comes at the hands of taxpayers, that is shameful. So it goes…)

 

We bring those ideas with us wherever we go.  So this lawyer brings them to Jesus.  Jesus answers him – life is found in loving God and neighbor.  Jesus’ answer isn’t new or revolutionary.  It isn’t even particularly spiritual.  It is more like common sense.  A religious scholar like this lawyer would clearly have already learned that lesson.  It is pretty basic, reaching back to the very beginnings of the Hebrew faith.

 

But then the lawyer exposes himself, he is looking for a loophole – And who is my neighbor?

 

This is what we will always do if we live our lives with the idea that eternal life is something to be earned by our following the rules – we will conveniently ignore the day-to-day on the ground realities of our lives as think about “spiritual matters” and we will constantly seek loopholes that make it easier for us to “win”.

 

Then along comes Jesus.  He is the end of our spiritual striving to gain God’s favor just as he is the end of our rebellion against God.  The question of eternal life has now been answered – Jesus has done for us what we cannot do for ourselves.  Eternal life is a qualitatively different existence that begins now and continues on the other side of the grave.

 

Our attention is thus free to turn to the daily realities of life.  Which would include going out of our way to attend to the needs of those who need help.

 

Let us pray:  Dear Jesus, remind us this morning of the times in our lives when people have gone out of their way to be helpful to us, when people have come around us in times of great need.  Remind us this morning that we love you as we love our neighbors in practical, down to earth ways.  Thank you for the gift and the promise of eternal life and the freedom we have to be who you have created and called us to be.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen. 

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4 Responses to “Tuesday, October 25th. Luke 10:25-37”

  1. maxmaw Says:

    Just one of many of your best. Mornings during the past month have been a pleasure because of the welcome Word and commentary that I find in my mailbox. Welcome back, and may He continue to bless your endeavors and life’s many adventures.

  2. Elain Edge Says:

    Who is my neighbor? The starving children in America and Africa, or the politician who is gathering millions of dollars so they can put each other down in television debates? This morning’s devotion challenges all of us to make some changes in the campaigning process.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Are only the poor the good people? Are there any good people that are wealthy? Are all “rich” (all Americans. no comparison to the real poor) bad people? Why is it O.K to tear down certain people and not others, is that God’s message?

  4. Randy Nelson Says:

    The issue which I have learned from the Good Samaritan story is that there was a one-on-one relationship between the Samaritan and the man who fell into the hands of robbers. The compassion given to the man were the hands of God. The story of the Samaritan and the man were told after the fact by Jesus for all to learn. Thanks.

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