THE GOOD SAMARITAN
Luke 10:25-29 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted Him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? How readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. And He said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor? (Also read Luke 10:30-37)
The answer given by this man holding a conversation with Jesus was law - specifically Jewish law. He, then, was referred to as a lawyer, a title used interchangeably in the New Testament with a "scribe," a "teacher of the law", or a "doctor of the law". Their professional life was given to studying Old Testament law, interpreting it,teaching it to others, and, in many instances, deciding questions of law in the Jewish court system. By their usage, these written interpretations and decisions became part of the Jewish law and were enforced as strictly as the original law given by God through His servant, Moses. Jesus referred to these additions to the Law as the traditions of the elders ...the commandments of men ...the traditions of men, and ...your own traditions (See Mat. 7:5-9).
It is said in the lesson text that the lawyer used this occasion to ask Jesus a question to tempt Him. Considering himself to be a man well educated in God's law, he was not seeking more knowledge, but rather an opportunity to discredit Jesus in front of His disciples and the multitudes that had gathered around Him to hear His teaching and witness the miracles He performed. To do so, he asked Jesus this question, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? Recognizing him as a lawyer, one that should know the answer, Jesus replied with questions of His own. What is written in the law? How readest thou? The lawyer replies by quoting, almost verbatim, Old Testament references found in Deuteronomy 6:5, and Leviticus 19:18, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. Jesus tells the lawyer, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. In order to justify himself he asked Jesus, And who is my neighbor? In Leviticus 19:15-18, we find God's law regarding neighbors. It is obvious that the lawyer considered the use of "neighbor" in these passages as applying only to his Jewish family - his Jewish brethren. He fully expected Jesus to have the same interpretation, and would confirm his own belief.
Jesus recognized his biased interpretation of God's law, and used the parable of "The Good Samaritan" in order to fully instruct the lawyer. In doing so, the teaching found in of Jesus' parable applies to all today that may ask this same question; And who is my neighbor? Verses 30 through 37 relate this parable. A certain man was descending a well-traveled road, which descendedfrom Jerusalem to Jericho. The context of the parable assures us that the man was a Jew. On his way he was robbed, stripped of his clothing, wounded, and left half dead beside the road. Two men of the Jewish religious order, a priest and a Levite, came by, saw the injured man, but passed on the other side of the road without assisting the man in any way. Afterwards a Samaritan man passed by, saw the injured man, had compassion on him, administered first aid to his injuries, put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. Before departing, he gave the innkeeper money to care for the injured man, and toldhim if more money was need for his care he would pay for the additional cost when he returned. Jesus then asked the lawyer, which of these three was neighbor to the injured man? The lawyer replied, He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
Who can deny that this parable teaches us that we are to be good neighbors to all who need help? The lawyer couldn't deny this , and neither can you or I today. God's law to all Christians today is contained in the words of His Son, Jesus that essentially, restates Old Testament laws cited by the lawyer in our lesson text (See Matt. 22:37-40). To deny one commandment is to deny both. We cannot love God without demonstrating our love for our neighbor. Neither can we truly love our neighbor without loving God. Love must extend beyond family ties, beyond friendship, beyond fellow Christians, beyond nationalities. Christian love has no bounds. It beginswith compassion; it is fulfilled in deeds. It is God's law. Go and do likewise.