The Certains: a Lawyer, a Man, a Priest, a Samaritan, and a Savior

January 11, 2019 at 11:08 am | Posted in Luke, parables | 2 Comments
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And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

Luke 10:25

The “lawyer” in this verse is not the same type of lawyer that we think of when we talk about lawyers today, but, even back then, they had a tendency to try to trip people up with tricky questions.

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 neighbour as thyself.

Luke 10:26-27

The lawyer’s answer to Jesus was both correct and incorrect. It was correct in the sense that this was what the Law required: moral perfection from the moment of birth to the moment of death, and complete devotion to God. But it was incorrect in the sense that it failed to acknowledge that nobody can accomplish this feat, or even come close.

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 neighbour?

Luke 10:28-29

The statement that the lawyer was “willing to justify himself” is a figure of speech, but it is important to remember that in reality such a thing as a person objectively making himself “just” is not possible. He tried the old “define your terms” tactic on Jesus.

And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

Luke 10:30

The phrase “a certain man” may indicate that Jesus was starting a parable, but we can not be certain. It is possible that this was something that had actually happened. The locations were real, and the behaviors described are certainly within the realm of known human experience.

And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,

Luke 10:31-33

Luke, writing with a gentile audience foremost in mind, highlights the significance of Jesus’s identification of the compassionate man as a Samaritan, rather than a Jewish man.

And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

Luke 10:34-37

Jesus corrected the lawyer’s question, which should not have been, “Who is my neighbor?” but rather, “To whom can I be a neighbor?” This man had fallen among thieves. We have “fallen” in sin. He was left “half dead,” and we come into this world alive physically, but dead spiritually. The identification of one of the callous passersby as a “priest” may have been intended to highlight the inadequacy of the Old Testament sacrificial system, and the statement that the other was a Levite may have been a way of addressing the lack of saving power in the Old Testament Law. These systems could only pass judgment, not save. If this is accurate, then the Samaritan would be an allegorical representation of Jesus. He pours in oil and wine, symbols of the Holy Spirit, and brings the rescued man to an “inn,” representing a local church, which was the agency whereby the injured man received care (one of the responsibilities of the local church). This man’s physical salvation was free to him, but paid for by another, just as our spiritual salvation is free to us, but paid for by Christ. Part of our mission as believers today is to care for others – to be good neighbors and “good Samaritans.”

Cross-Examining the Master

August 7, 2009 at 9:41 am | Posted in Biblical neighbors, Luke | 5 Comments
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Lawyers in Bible times were not the same as what we call “lawyers” today. They were thought to be experts in Old Testament law. However, like lawyers today, they had a penchant for trying to trip folks up with tricky questions:

And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

Luke 10:25

Jesus, the Master, however, was not fazed by such a question. Instead, He turned the tables, forcing the lawyer to confront his own self-righteousness:

But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

Luke 10:29

This question Jesus answered with the story of the “Good Samaritan.” This story (so familiar to us today) forced the lawyer to realize that a hurting neighbor should not be a problem to be avoided or a topic to be debated. Instead of analyzing who is, and who is not, our neighbor, Christ taught that we should see a hurting neighbor as an opportunity to serve. As believers on the Lord Jesus Christ, our question should not be, “Who is my neighbor?” Our question should be, “To whom can I be a neighbor?”


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