Expert in the Law, Luke 10: 25-37
The Good Samaritan. Talk about a classic story that has stood the test of time. Even folks who have never set foot within a church have heard the term Good Samaritan, could probably tell you that it was from the bible, and might even know that it has to do with being a good neighbor. Once again, we see the timelessness of biblical truth.
Here is the question that began this classic story: But the lawyer wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). The verb justify here does not mean to defend as much as it means to make righteous with God. It is one of Paul favorite verbs—he uses it 14 times in the book of Romans and 6 times in the book of Galatians. For Paul, this is the crux of the death and resurrection of Jesus:
For we maintain that we are justified by faith apart from observing the law. (Roman 3:38)
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)
Yet we know that a person is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So, we too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2:16)
The lawyer wanted to be made right with God by using his intellect. While he understood the letter of the law, he clearly missed the point.
In many ways, we all do that from time to time. We want to justify or defend why ‘those people’ really are not our neighbor — They are not from here, they do not live like us, or follow our rules. They talk funny and worship idols. Unfortunately, as you can see, God has been there, heard that, and put those arguments to bed over 2,000 years ago.
Who are those people in our lives today that we do not want to call neighbor? To whom are we to show mercy and compassion so that we too can, “go and do likewise?”