You can read the parable of the good Samaritan here.
“What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
I wonder how you or I would you have answered this question? Would you even think about answering the way Jesus did? “What is written in the law?” “How do you interpret it? Followed by “do this and you will live!” Is Jesus saying we can be saved by our works?
Do this and you will live
It is absolutely true that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on the Law shall live by it. But if there is one thing more than another which the whole of scripture speaks with one voice it is that no human being will be justified in God’s sight by the works of the law. However, one’s theology must result in good praxis. “Do this!” You can go to Bible study, you can own the ESV Study Bible or be a KJV purist, but if your doctrine does not have legs on it and lead you into praxis then it is useless! Jesus statement is designed to elicit a response from the Lawyer. Jesus loves this guy enough to show him how much he falls short of fulfilling all the Law requires of him in spite of his OT Bible knowledge. Our Lord sent the man back to the Law, not because the Law saves us (Gal. 2:16, 21; 3:21), but because the Law shows us that we need to be saved. There can be no real conversion without conviction, and the Law is what God uses to convict sinners (Rom. 3:20)
Who is my neighbour?
The lawyer knows he hasn’t loved his neighbour as himself so he wants to limit the scope of those whom he might be obligated to love to his own brothers (The Jews). “Who is my neighbour?” Jesus’ turns the question on its head, the parable of the Good Samaritan prompts the lawyer to consider what it means to be a neighbour to someone rather than how to identify who is to be considered a neighbour. He changes the question from “What status of people are worthy of my love?” to “How can I become the kind of person whose compassion disregards status?”
J.I Packer Writes:
Christians, and therefore every congregation of the church on earth, are called to practice deeds of mercy and compassion, a thoroughgoing neighbour-love that responds unstintingly to all forms of human need as they present themselves (Luke 10:25–27; Rom. 12:20–21). Compassion was the inward aspect of the neighbour-love that led Jesus to heal the sick, feed the hungry, and teach the ignorant (Matt. 9:36; 15:32; 20:34; Mark 1:41; Luke 7:13), and those who are new creatures in Christ must be similarly compassionate. Thereby they keep the second great commandment and also give credibility to their proclamation of a Saviour who makes sinners into lovers of God and of their fellow human beings. If the exponents of this message do not display its power in their own lives, credibility is destroyed. If they do, credibility is enhanced. This was Jesus’ point when he envisaged the sight of the good works of his witnesses leading people to glorify the Father (Matt. 5:16; cf. 1 Pet. 2:11–12). Good works should be visible to back up good words
Differences In the Parable
The one major difference between the priest and Levite on the one hand and the Samaritan on the other is not what they see and hear, but what they do with what they see and hear. The lawyer who questions Jesus has done enough seeing and hearing of Gods law and Jesus now says to him “you go and do likewise” your doctrine has to have legs…. Your theology must now work itself out in praxis.
Does my Bible knowledge have legs?
- Like the lawyer is there a disconnect between my confessional faith and the outworking of what I say I believe?
- Most of us can think up excuses for the priest and Levite as they ignored the victim. (Maybe we have used them ourselves!) The priest had been serving God at the temple all week and was anxious to get home. Perhaps the bandits were still lurking in the vicinity and using the victim as “bait.” Why take a chance? Anyway, it was not his fault that the man was attacked. The road was busy, so somebody else was bound to come along and help the man. The priest left it to the Levite, and then the Levite did what the priest did—nothing! Such is the power of the bad example of a religious man.
Jesus is the perfect neighbour. No matter how well we think we know the Bible we have all at some point failed to give legs to our theology and if we want to inherit eternal life then we must put our trust in the one who is a perfect neighbour. Jesus never stopped loving his neighbours even under suffering and duress. The lawyer wanted to Justify himself before God rather than be Justified by God. Because we have been shown mercy by our neighbour Jesus, we must now go and do likewise. Our good works are the fruit of our salvation.