Mercy is Worth the Risk l Luke 10:25-37 l Chapel Hill Church Gig Harbor
Good morning, everyone. My name is Julie Hawkins and I am one of the pastors here. And this morning we are talking about one of the most famous passages in the whole Bible, the parable of the Good Samaritan. The phrase, Good Samaritan, has become synonymous with when someone does an unexpected, usually anonymous good deed.
I lost my checkbook, license and wallet 12 years ago, blame the fog of being a new parent. The next day they were dropped off at the leasing office of my apartment, a man had found them in Federal Way in the parking lot of Aurelia’s Eye Doctor. The leasing agent said, “Didn’t leave a name or anything,…he was just a Good Samaritan.”
That is text we are looking at this morning, The Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10.
Now, it is a good thing to do random acts of kindness. But to reduce the parable of the Good Samaritan down to a feel-good challenge to return missing wallets is missing the point of the story. This text is so much more. This parable answers one of life’s most important question “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” and the answer to that question goes far beyond random acts of kindness.
Let’s turn now to 10:25 … And you’ll want to keep your Bible’s open because we’re going to look at this story in two parts.
“And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” Luke 10:25-28
This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Our passage begins with a lawyer standing up to test Jesus. This isn’t a lawyer like we think about lawyers. In 1st century Judea, a lawyer was an expert in the law, the religious law. These men would study and interpret the Mosaic law day in and day out. And the question that he asked Jesus, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” was like a baseline question for knowing a person’s theology.
It’s like the first time you go to a barbecue restaurant, you order the brisket. Because you can tell a lot about a barbecue joint by how they cook their brisket. That’s their baseline. Are they orthodox and use a dry rub? Are they heretical and use liquid smoke? When the lawyer asked Jesus this question, he was asking, “What kind of teacher are you?” And he was hoping to trip him up… he was hoping Jesus was a heretic, that he was liquid smoke.
Jesus responds to his question with a question, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” I mean, this guy is the religious expert, right? He should know the answer. And here is how he answers:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27
His response is to quote the two most famous parts of the law. The first part is what is called the Shema. Observant Jews still recite the Shema every morning and every evening. They have it written on tiny scrolls, rolled up that they wear in boxes on their wrists and foreheads, a very literal interpretation of the original command in Deuteronomy 6, “… talk about them when you lie down and when you rise, bind them on your wrist and forehead.” That lawyer probably had the command right here on his forehead when he recited it to Jesus. This was the greatest commandment. And the second part, love your neighbor as yourself, from Leviticus 19, was the 2nd greatest commandment. Jesus himself talked about these two commandments in Matthew 12 and 22. He says that “On these two commandments hang all the law and all the prophets.”
And so, when the lawyer asks, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And answers his own question, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus says, “You are correct. Do this and you will live.”