Our Good Samaritan
A lawyer asked Jesus, “Teacher, what do I have to do to inherit eternal life? Jesus’ surprising response was essentially, “You’re the expert. You tell me.” The lawyer knew the Law, so he stated the bottom-line: “Love God with your whole being and love your neighbor as yourself.” Correct! That’s what the Law says you’ve got to do if you’re going to receive eternal life.
But then Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan and asks the lawyer: “So, who was a neighbor to the man who fell among thieves?” “The one who showed mercy,” the lawyer answered.
Ouch! Jesus had cornered the lawyer and forced him to admit the true purpose of God’s Law: to teach us the need for mercy and unqualified love for our neighbor. As the Prophet Hosea said: “For I delight in mercy and not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6). Our Gospel reading for today is a two-edged sword. If your good deeds are merely aimed at improving your standing when you’re standing before the Judgement Seat, then Jesus’ words will send you away sliced, diced, and condemned to die.
But if you understand that the Law has already sliced, diced, and left you for dead, then this parable should give you hope because although the Law brings death and judgement, the Gospel is the living, healing, merciful Word of God that brings eternal life!
The thing is, just like the man in the parable, we’re really the ones who’ve been beaten and robbed. The devil and his minions have left us bleeding and bruised, robbing us of the beautiful image of a truly merciful God. Satan left us for dead, lying in the dust from which we’d come. And the Law of God, as shown by the Priest and the Levite, was no help. The Law couldn’t save us. As the Apostle Paul says, “No one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the Law, for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20).
The law shows us where we’ve gone wrong, but it can’t make us right with God. So, here’s the real answer to the lawyer’s question. There’s nothing he can do to inherit eternal life. There’s nothing any of us can do on our own to inherit eternal life. We’re lying in the ditch and without someone to rescue us, we’ll be dead within hours.
But the good news is, God sees us in our misery, and He isn’t content to just leave us in the ditch because our God is merciful, loving, and compassionate. So, he sent us our own Good Samaritan who didn’t just walk on by. And He didn’t just happen to randomly stroll down the road at the right time. The love of God sent Jesus to us at exactly the right time to heal us and save us and lead us in eternal life.
Our Good Samaritan