Luke 10:25-42

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And 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.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

In this section of text, there are two stories: Jesus encounters a teacher of law (the lawyer) and he tells the parable of “The Good Samaritan", and Jesus encounters Mary and Martha in their home. 

A well-read and religious lawyer (we can assume he studied the Old Testament thoroughly) asks Jesus a very fundamental question about eternal (or everlasting, death-defying) life. We're not sure if he wants God, but he certainly wants heaven. And Jesus points him to the OT law. And to our surprise, the lawyer knew the answer! The greatest commandment! Right away that tells us that the lawyer was in fact well-read and understood the text of the OT law.

However, the lawyer can’t seem to reconcile how he can achieve that (since he probably wasn’t a particularly loving person). So he tries to find a loophole in the law by questioning Jesus— “And who is my neighbor?” Anybody? Nobody? Just my literal next-door-neighbor? How can you even possibly define that?

Thus Jesus tells a parable of a man— robbed, stripped, beaten, and left for dead. Two men (Jewish priests) pass by him without a second thought. But the third, a Samaritan of all people, shows tremendous mercy and love to the man in need. He gives with no expectation of return. 

There are two remarkable things about how this parable plays out. First, the listeners would have expected the third person to be a Jew, but instead Jesus throws everyone a curve ball by naming a Samaritan! We know from Jewish history that Samaritans and Jews had generations of tense political and racial disharmony (John 4). Second, Jesus doesn’t actually answer the lawyer’s question (“who is my neighbor?”). Instead he bends the parable to convey what it means to be a neighbor (“Which of these three proved to be a neighbor to the man…?”). And God’s command for those who seek to fulfill His greatest commandment is to be full of mercy (“The one who showed him mercy”). 

Jesus is teaching the lawyer and the listeners (and us) that mercy is how we exercise and fulfill the greatest commandment, to love God and to love others, and to prove to be a Spirit-filled neighbor. We must live the spirit of the law to prove that the letter of law is written on our hearts. 

Anyone in the thick of difficult relationships (with parents, children, co-workers, family, church members, etc.) knows that God’s command to love Him and love others as He loved us is no trivial thing. It is a supernatural thing. It is a work of the Holy Spirit. And Jesus makes very clear that you cannot give to others what you do not receive from God yourself. You cannot radiate what you do not see. One of our greatest Christian duties is to daily seek the mercies of God before the throne of God by the Word of God empowered by the Spirit of God. It is only then, when we know who we really are and what we really want, when we see the cross and our sin that held Him there, can we give and serve freely with no expectation of return. 

The point of Jesus' encounter with Mary and Martha is really the same. Jesus didn't scold Martha for serving, but for serving with anxiety, while troubled, and without receiving her daily bread. Mary chose the better portion. 

Posted by Robert Han on 12/5/2016


Verse 25 makes it clear that the "expert in the law (NIV)" asked Jesus his question to "test" Jesus. There was not thirst for knowledge or a genuine inquiry; the lawyer knew the Law. It was a selfish act. Then in Verse 29 said that he wanted to "justify himself" when he asked who his neighbor was. I think the lawyer might even have wanted to prove (maybe to himself) that he was doing everything alright. He was obeying the Law that he was an expert in. There was no way that God would not accept him into the kingdom of heaven. Well, Jesus disproved that thought in my opinion. I can see the lawyer truly questioning his own faith after hearing Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus was CLEARLY intention when He chose His characters in this parable. Like Robert said, Jesus threw a curve ball. Of all people, the one who showed mercy was a Samaritan. Stake to the heart while spreading salt on an open wound!!! I wish this story went on to show what the lawyer did and what his response was. The Bible only tells of his response, "The one who had mercy on him." I'm curious about if the lawyer took the hint and changed his perspective or if the truth just did not make an impact.

Diana Lim on 12/6/2016 at 9:13 AM