By Gene Price
Pastor, Tumbling Creek Baptist Church, Gleason
Jesus encounters an expert in the law. This expert knew the first five books of the Bible backwards and forward. Jesus uses this occasion to teach a very important truth. That truth is that a person cannot separate their relationship with God from their relationship with their fellowman. Jesus told the Parable of the Good Samaritan to illustrate what loving compassion looks like. He coupled that with describing and illustrating how believers should go the extra mile to demonstrate acts of kindness.
When a person loves God, they will love others (Luke 10:25-28). This expert in the law asks the most important question anyone can ask; “How can a person inherit eternal life?” However this expert assumed some human responsibility was attached to this concept of attaining eternal life. His question implied that he had to do something in order to receive eternal life. Jesus answered his question by asking him a question, “What does God’s Word say?” Surely an expert in the Mosaic law would know the answer. He quoted “to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, with all your mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself.” Seen clearly is the fact that loving God and loving our neighbor are the two greatest commandments. All of the Ten Commandments can be summarized in those two commandments. Yet a person cannot love anyone else until he loves God. And a person cannot love God without having a faith relationship with Jesus first.
When a person loves God, their love for God will be demonstrated through their actions (vv. 29-32). Now this expert wanted to know how far Jesus would go in demanding love for one’s neighbor. This expert’s attitude is wrong to begin with. It seems he wants to limit “neighbor” to as few people as possible. The neighbor is the one “nearby,” but how near? Does “nearby” include the one a mile away? Two miles? Jesus tells the story of a man on a journey from Jerusalem to Jericho who was beat up and robbed and was left half-dead. The priest and Levite (religious people) passed by on the other side and refused to help the man. Their failure to help was a failure to love, and failure to love is a sin (James 4:17). Two people who professed to love God failed to help a needy person when they had the opportunity to do so. Neither man was a neighbor to the needy man. God calls every believer to demonstrate His love to others, even to those who are enemies or are undeserving.
When a person loves God, their love for God and for others knows no limit (vv. 33-37). The crowd stood in disbelief when the hero of the story was a Samaritan. To a Jew in the first century, there was no such thing as a “good Samaritan.” This Samaritan took action (he had compassion) as he saw the wounded man lying in the road. He washed the man’s wounds with oil and wine. He put the man on his own animal and brought him to an inn. Then he paid the inn keeper to take care of the man and his needs.
Jesus told this story to teach that love for God is often demonstrated by loving others. Jesus tells all to “Go and do likewise.” It is easy to say we love people. The real challenge comes when love must be shown through actions. Many times a person wants to limit their love to certain people or situations, but Christ-like love knows no limits. To show love toward other people is always costly. This story is a model of what ministry should look like in our lives. Herschel Hobbs said, “Ministry is seeing an opportunity and, being moved by love, going into action to bring relief to someone in distress and need.”