Reading For Thursday Luke 10:25-37
This nameless lawyer was putting Jesus to the test as his enemies had done before. Jesus' enemies were notorious for posing difficult questions to see how Jesus would handle them and to try and trap him. The question of eternal life was regularly debated among religious leaders. Jesus answers the question with a question of his own and asks this expert in biblical law what his take was concerning eternal life. The lawyer's answer was brilliant as he quoted from the scripture. Jesus acknowledged that the answer given was correct and encouraged him to heed his own counsel. The answer may seem simple, but who truly loves God with everything? We can't even begin to love God in this way for just five minutes. The second portion of the answer might prove even more challenging. Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself? We are selfish and the idea of seeking the good of our neighbor just as earnestly as we seek our own seems impossible. However, it is at this point that we reach a critical transition and discover a bit more about the motivation behind the question posed as this lawyer seeks to justify himself.
Perhaps feeling as if Jesus' answer would too quickly get him off the hook, he follows with another question in rapid succession. Who is my neighbor? Jesus responds to this query by teaching through a parable. The parable that he uses is one that many people are familiar with and is used even in secular society. Jesus illustrates with the story of a man that falls into the hands of robbers and is violently assaulted. Being left unconscious and alone, he is in a terrible state. As the people are left wondering what will happen to the man, Jesus advances the plot with a Priest and a Levite coming near the man. Neither the Priest or the Levite respond to the man's dreadful condition and they pass by. People are left speculating why these leaders did not respond differently to the man's awful situation.
Jesus then completely flips the script. He tells the crowd that is listening intently that a Samaritan came, demonstrated compassion, and gave personally to bring this man relief that was much more than temporary, securing longer term care for this unfortunate soul. Only the Samaritan had compassion, not the religious leaders. The people were probably frustrated and confused by the parable. Jews and Samaritans hate each other, so this was not the answer they were looking for... The answer to the question was everyone is your neighbor, and we are to love even our enemies. Jesus then asked the lawyer which one he thought was neighborly, and he only would say the "one" leaving out the designation of Samaritan.
Things To Consider:
- Is everyone biased in some way? Why or why not?
- It is possible to know the right answers and not be right with Jesus. How does this happen?
- What is the answer for eternal life since we have failed in our love for God and our neighbor?
- Why do you think Jesus used a Samaritan for the story?
- What can we learn about being generous from the parable?
- What ways are you challenged by reading this parable?
- Is there someone that you need to be a neighbor to? Will you?