Luke 10: 26-28 (Complete Jewish Bible)
“An expert in Torah stood up to try and trap him by asking, “Rabbi, what should I do to obtain eternal life?” But Yeshua said to him, “What is written in the Torah? How do you read it?” He answered, “You are to love Adonai your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your understanding; and your neighbor as yourself.” “That’s the right answer,” Yeshua said. “Do this, and you will have life.”
Notice here that Christ asked the individual – “What is written in the Torah?How do YOU read it?” Christ could have asked only, what is written – but He did not….He asked the man how do you read it. Christ wasn’t asking the man how to read in the literal sense, He was clearly asking the man to explain how he understood what he’d read in the Torah. Understanding is important in relation to judgment. This is why men are not called to judge, because we do not have all the understanding needed to judge anyone (even ourselves) with truth.
Luke 10:29 “But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Yeshua, “And who is my ‘neighbor’?””
Notice, the “expert’s” reading and interpretation was correct but the man acted as if he needed deeper understanding in an attempt to justify himself. It wasn’t that the individual did not grasp what he restated to Jesus, he was an “expert” in the law of course he understood! The expert only wanted to find a way around something in the law he didn’t want to do (sound familiar? I know I’ve done that a many of time). The “expert” was more concerned with what HE desired in spite of all his understanding and expertise in the laws of God.
He knew the truth, yet he wanted to find a way around it because it wasn’t what he wanted to do. The expert didn’t mind loving those around him who were the same as he and did things the way he did them….but did God really expect him to love THOSE PEOPLE? You know, the sinners, the outcasts, the lowly folk who didn’t live as he did, believe as he did, think as he did. The “expert’s” heart was not in the right place, his motives were not to please God but to gain for self. Not only was he not loving his neighbors, he was failing to love God with all his heart by attempting to find a way to appease himself over God’s command to LOVE ALL without regard or condition. (Ouch, I literally just got hit with that one because I’ve done this recently).Of course, Christ knew this and He corrected the “expert” not by telling him the answer, but by guiding Him to speak the truth.
Luke 10:30-37 “Taking up the question, Yeshua said: “A man was going down from Yerushalayim to Yericho when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him naked and beat him up, then went off, leaving him half dead. By coincidence, a cohen [a priest] was going down on that road; but when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levi [a person belonging to the order of priests responsible for the care of and service to the Holy Temple, these individuals were known for their loyal service and sheer dedication to the Lord] who reached the place and saw him also passed by on the other side.
“But a man from Shomron [a Samaritan. These are Jews born of intermarriages between Jews and Gentiles (non-Jewish nations who served idols) as a result, Samaritans were treated as outcast, like sinners and gentiles, by Jews whose parents did not intermarry.] who was traveling came upon him; and when he saw him, he was moved with compassion. So he went up to him, put oil and wine on his wounds and bandaged them. Then he set him on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day, he took out two days’ wages, gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Look after him; and if you spend more than this, I’ll pay you back when I return.’ Of these three, which one seems to you to have become the ‘neighbor’ of the man who fell among robbers?” He answered, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Yeshua said to him, “You go and do as he did.””
Isn’t it beautiful the way Christ graciously guided the expert into speaking the very truth he tried to hide from? Christ didn’t condemn or judge the man into submission but graciously, patiently, and wisely guided the man without causing conflict or furthering the tension. He recognized the expert’s motives in his actions – the expert was seeking a way around the law and Christ was pointing Him to love through the law. We must love, not judge.
In this story we find Christ asking the man about his understanding and using this to judge him accurately. For Christ knew the heart of the man and he judged him by it. In this story we also find all kinds of judgments from others – the priest who walked to the other side of the road, the levite who passed the wounded man, even the expert who asked the question and reluctantly gave the answer at the end…. (notice the expert was never able to say “the Samaritan” just “the one who showed mercy” such disdain for the Samaritan people)…but there was very little love, compassion or understanding emanating from the very people who were supposed to uphold God’s law and serve His people (sound familiar today, right?). Instead, we saw self-righteous judgement that left little room for God’s love or compassion (much like many christians today).
Only the Samaritan – the one shunned and looked upon with disdain by the religious elites of the day – was the one who stopped and rendered aid as a man or woman of God should. The priest and the levi both went out of their way to NOT get involved. They had things to do. They had more important business. Yes, God says love your neighbor as yourself and to look out for his people — but at that moment, it didn’t matter. We don’t know their reasons for not stopping and I think they’re not mentioned because they don’t matter….. whatever the reason, in the eyes of Christ I’m sure it’s irrelevant and insignificant. God calls us to love and they when out of their way to NOT do this.
The Samaritan however, was the perfect example of a man or woman in service to God. The Samaritan didn’t know the individual, the Samaritan was also busy, the Samaritan could have easily passed by and ignored the need but he didn’t. He gave his time, his money, his compassion and his service to God without so much as a grumble or complaint. He gave of himself – surely understanding that the same aid more than likely would not be rendered to him should he ever need it because of his status as a Samaritan – yet, he didn’t care. The Samaritan loved his neighbor as he loved himself and showed the love of Christ through his actions.
The Samaritan, who may not have had the greatest understanding of the law…and may have been ignorant concerning the deep things of God, grasped the most important and life changing point —- THE LOVE OF GOD IS SERVICE. THE LOVE OF GOD IS SACRIFICE. THE LOVE OF GOD SELFLESS AND ACTION ORIENTED.
Love is patient and kind, not jealous, not boastful,
not proud, rude or selfish, not easily angered,
and it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not gloat over other people’s sins
but takes its delight in the truth.
Love always bears up, always trusts,
always hopes, always endures.