Lawyers often get a bad rap. I don’t have any authoritative statistics to back up my statement, but I think there are more jokes about lawyers than any other profession. How unfortunate that a few unscrupulous individuals have tainted an otherwise honorable profession. There are several lawyers in my family; I know them to be honest, forthright and have the best interests of their clients at heart.
On one occasion, an expert lawyer approached Jesus concerning a very important subject: eternal life. He legitimately wanted to know. Jesus asked him, “How does your phylactery read?” The lawyer quoted from
Jesus replied that the man answered correctly from his head. Jesus continued to challenge him to live it from his heart by saying, “Do this, and you shall live.” It really is a question of love! The challenge Jesus gave to the lawyer to live out this love on that hot afternoon is the same challenge He gives to all of us today.
The Challenge of Love Starts with Loving God (v. 27)
Loving God first governs our lives. Everything else is secondary. John Wesley wrote, “O let your heart be whole with God! Seek your happiness in Him and Him alone.”
Loving God first means I never am separated from Him.
Loving God first means I am absorbed in doing His will.
Loving God first means I am trusting Him exclusively with my life.
In 1856, shortly before the death of Adolphe Monod, the famous French evangelical preacher, he said, “I have strength for nothing more than to think about the love of God; He has loved us—that is the whole of dogmatics; let us love Him—that is the sum total of the ethics of the gospel.”
The Challenge of Love Is a Compassionate Heart (v. 33)
A crowd had gathered around Jesus and the lawyer, eavesdropping on their conversation. Noticing the crowd, Jesus began to unfold one of His most famous illustrations.
He began with a traveler going from Jericho on a notoriously perilous road, with bandits hiding in the area ready to pounce on anyone who dared travel that way. Sure enough, on his journey he was attacked and beaten to within an inch of his life. He was left on the side of the road unconscious and bleeding.
Jesus told of three others who traveled the road, and all three noticed him. First, a priest passed by and saw the man lying on the side of the road. He was probably on his way to perform his ceremonial priestly duties, so he knew that if by chance the man was dead, according to
The second man on the scene was a Levite. Fear grasped the heart of the Levite. Bandits were known to use decoys. What if this man was simply a decoy? The Levite was no risk taker.
The third man coming down the road in Jesus’ story was the least likely to care. He was a Samaritan, and the man was a Jew. Samaritans didn’t care about Jews, and Jews just didn’t care about Samaritans. The listeners assumed he would be the villain in the story, but this is Jesus’ story with a point. As with many great storytellers, not all the facts were aligning.
The Samaritan was in Jewish territory and dealt with a Jewish innkeeper who trusted him enough to extend credit and knew he was good for it. The Samaritan actually helped a Jew whom he was supposed to despise.
Jesus’ bottom line is that compassion and love come from the action of the heart and not from ceremonial custom. People are more important than tradition. True love comes from a heart in tune with God.
The Challenge of Love Is Action (vv. 34-35)
The Samaritan did not stop with feeling compassionate. He did something for the man he found. He denied himself to help this man by giving compassion, time and finances to make a positive difference. What he did was practical participation in the life of the wounded man. His action was intentional.
God challenged the lawyer to act in love to all people regardless of race, nationality or religion. Jesus still challenges us to do the same.