Luke 10v25-42

DAY 1

Luke 10v25-42

 

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’

26 ‘What is written in the Law?’ he replied. ‘How do you read it?’

27 He answered, ‘“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 “Love your neighbour as yourself.”’

28 ‘You have answered correctly,’ Jesus replied. ‘Do this and you will live.’

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’

 

 

The lawyer’s question is not a true question. The lawyer would know that you can’t do anything to make sure you inherit something. Inheritance can only ever be a gift. His use of the word “inherit” unmasks him. Rather than fall into the trap of the lawyer Jesus asks him what he thinks. We can learn from Jesus here. When we are asked questions as Christians there is often an underlying issue that will colour the rest of the conversation without our knowledge. You might be asked, for instance, a question about abortion and without knowing that the person may well be grieving over an aborted child you might answer in an uncaring manner. Knowing the context, before answering you would do well to comfort the grieving person, and then answer in a way that is most helpful to them, without, of course, compromising the truth.

The lawyer’s answer is in keeping with what Jesus has said elsewhere [Matthew 22:35-40], where he sums up all the law in these two commandments. Many who claim to live by the golden rule conveniently forget the first part, “the first and greatest commandment”, love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and strength and mind. 

Is Jesus then saying that it is possible to earn salvation? Well, “yes” and “no”. If we could totally obey the great commandment then we would not need to be saved. However, as Paul points out, the problem is not the law but our total inability to perfectly obey it [Romans 7:7-12]. The law, rather than saving us, makes it really clear that we need saving. Kenneth E Bailey says that Jesus’ reply to the question “what must I do to inherit eternal life” is “You must jump over this ten-foot fence!” In other words, the man has asked the wrong question, but he doesn’t realise it. At this point the lawyer should have said, “But that’s impossible. I can’t do that! Is there another way?” 

He’s got his answer and now he want to clarify it, just to make sure his obedience is complete. We know this because of Luke’s words, “He wanted to justify himself.” He wants to earn his acceptance by God. The Bible is clear that the only way to acceptance with God is through the justification that comes through Jesus [Romans 3:28]. This man wants to get his own, and he can, if he can obey the law. Foolish man that he is, he doesn’t understand either the law or his own heart. Jesus was trying to help us do that in the Sermon on the Mount when he pointed out the impossibility of obeying the law [Matthew 5-7]. So, Jesus agrees with the man’s own impossible standard, and in the parable that follows underlines the impossibility of meeting that standard.

The man asks, wanting to buy God’s acceptance, “How can I earn the gift of eternal life?” and Jesus in effect replies, “You want to earn your way into the Kingdom of God, then live a perfect life and love God with all that you are and have.” 

Thank God that we don’t have to meet that standard to inherit eternal life. Much as we’d love to live like that, and much as we strive to be like that, it is a thing of wonder that God gives us that in Jesus despite our failure to actually do it. 

What an amazing privilege we have! What an amazing Saviour!

 

PRAYER

Generous Father, thank you for your extravagant love shown to me In Jesus. Help me to live a life worthy of that great gift. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

DAY 2

Luke 10v25-42

 

30 In reply Jesus said: ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half-dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,” he said, “and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.”

36 ‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’

37 The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’

Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.’

 

We make a mistake with this parable (and with the other parables of Jesus) when we try and make excuses or give reasons for the behaviour of the characters. We want to look behind the story, but it is a story, and there is no backstory. Jesus made it up to make his point. 

Again, Jesus refuses to give an answer to the lawyer, but instead asks him a question couched in a story. He very cleverly corners the man and helps him to discover the answer to his own question. 

Who is my neighbour? For the Jew this was limited to fellow-Jews [Lev 19:18]. However, it might also include “The foreigner living among you” [Lev 19:34]. So which group would Jesus include?

Going down from Jerusalem to Jericho. It’s just a simple geographic confirmation of the trustworthiness of the gospel. Jericho was 27kms from Jerusalem. It’s pretty similar to the trip from Mt Victoria in the Blue Mountains to Penrith.  You go from about 1000 meters above sea level to 100 metres below sea level.  So, a person would go down from Jerusalem to Jericho. 

The man is attacked and left for dead.

A priest walks by, sees the man and then, we’re told by Jesus, he passes by on the other side. This is no two-lane highway. The Levite does the same thing. Levites were laymen who were from the tribe of Levi and were assistants to the priests.

 

 

 

 

Crossing by on the other side is really walking around the man. Here is where so many people try to look for reasons for the priest’s behaviour but remember it’s a made-up story. He had no reasons because he’s imaginary. The idea is that we put ourselves in the shoes of these men as the story is told. A priest and a Levite were probably chosen because they were religious leaders and of all people should have been compassionate. And before we criticise them, we should think about the times we’ve had the opportunity to help someone in need but didn’t – the person lying on the footpath or the needy person in the neighbourhood or at church who takes so much time and who we try to avoid so that we don’t get caught up - It is always easy to justify our lack of compassion. I don’t have time, I’m not qualified, I wouldn’t know what to do, all sorts of good reasons. 

Yet the clarion call of the Bible, one taken on by so many who don’t even know that it’s Scripture, the Golden Rule, love your neighbour as you love yourself: treat others the way you would like to be treated. 

 

PRAYER

Lord, thank you do that did not treat me as I deserved but lavished your love on me. Empower me by your Spirit to love others like that. Amen

 

 


DAY 3

Luke 10v25-42

 

33 But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.

 

Remember that this parable is in answer to the question, “Who is my neighbour that I’m to love as I love myself?”

You’d think that Jesus would have made the man who’d been robbed the Samaritan. That would have served the purpose of the parable well – even the hated Samaritans are your neighbour. Instead, Jesus twists the question – “Who was the neighbour to the man who’d been robbed?” The lawyer wants to find out the limits of God’s requirements, Jesus instead points to the sort of person he should be.

The Samaritans were despised by the Jews back in Jesus’ day, and visa versa. A Jew wouldn’t even touch something a Samaritan had touched. One Jewish religious leader of that time said that if you found a Samaritan dying beside the road, you’d be doing God a favour if you left him to die. This is not just a nice parable to teach about being a neighbour, but rather a slap in the face to the Jews as the hated Samaritan is shown to be the only one of the three who had any compassion. It would have been far more acceptable to Jesus’ audience if it had been a Jewish layman who had compassion on the man. “three men were on the road to Jericho, a priest, a Levite and a layman.”  That would have been the anticipated threesome, so the mention of a Samaritan would have come as a complete surprise, and not a pleasant one. Imagine a Taliban soldier helping the injured man and you get a feel for the affront Jesus’ parable must have been. 

In Jesus’ story the Samaritan stops and helps the bloke who we assume is a Jew. He goes out of his way.  He binds up the wounds and takes him to a motel in Jericho and spent all day and night caring for him. The next day he pays for the bloke to stay and recover while he heads on, but gives the motel owner his credit card details in case the bloke incurs more expenses. 

Jesus finishes his story and then asks the lawyer, “Who was the good neighbour in this story?”  

 

And the lawyer has to say, “The Samaritan” and he must have choked on the answer. 

And Jesus says “that’s what loving your neighbour involves. You go and live like that Samaritan, and you’ll get your ticket to eternal life.”

If you want to buy your way into eternal life, that’s the cost. Love God with everything you’ve got and always treat others the way you’d like to be treated.  It’s mission impossible!  Don’t worry about who your neighbour is, go and be a perfect neighbour to others – to everyone who comes across your path, no matter their race or nationality or religion or history. 

Most often this parable is used to teach us how we should love others, and it dies there, but that is not the purpose of the parable.  The real point of the story is, even though that is our goal, we will never love like that, not continuously. Not as matter of habit. We just can’t do it. Even after Jesus sets the bar so high no one could get over it, the man missed the point. He should have said something like, “Jesus, I’m such a sinner I can’t pull that off.  What happens now?”  

If he’d asked that Jesus would have spoken as he did elsewhere about mercy and forgiveness.  You don’t earn you way to eternal life; you apologise for not living like that and you ask for forgiveness with all your heart.  But that takes humility and that is something this lawyer seems to lack.   Jesus wants him to see his need of God’s mercy and forgiveness, but he doesn’t want that.  He wants to live his way. Just a few days ago a prominent Australian businessman died and we’re told that at his deathbed family played the song “I did it my way!” What a tragedy!

 

The first step to eternal life to realise you can’t do it your way, you will never earn it, and you will never deserve it. 

So, what is the answer? Well, it’s in the next incident Luke records for us, and we’ll take a look at that tomorrow. 

 

For now, as is so often the case as we look at this Gospel, we can celebrate God’s fabulous forgiveness and his glorious grace as we meditate on our inability to earn adoption and Jesus’ incredible gift of rescue. 

 

PRAYER

Lord God, source of all grace, thank you for adoption as your child through the work of your son on the cross. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

DAY 4

Luke 10v25-42

 

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’

41 ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed – or indeed only one.[d] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’

I’m with Martha here. She’s rushing around getting stuff ready for dinner and Mary is just chatting away with the guest. She’s cleaning and cooking and getting the drinks and laying the table and her sister is bludging in the lounge room.  She’s probably already cleaned the toilet and vacuumed the floors and got the kids to tidy their rooms even though Jesus probably won’t go anywhere near the bedrooms.  Mary has probably helped with all that stuff but now she’s chatting with Jesus.  

Martha gets really steamed up. Can you imagine a situation where you’d do something like this - ask your guest of honour to tell your sister to get off her butt and help? She must have been livid!  And she’s angry enough to be rude to Jesus as well – “Lord don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself?”  you can almost feel the static in the air!

Who’s right and who’s wrong here? Well, it’s neither.  See, for Jesus, it’s not a question of right and wrong, but what is better to do. 41 “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Mary has chosen what is better. 

See, for Jesus, it’s not a question of right and wrong, but what is better to do.

There’s nothing wrong with doing what Martha is doing but Jesus doesn’t really care that the floors are vacuumed, or that the food is some ‘Jamie Oliver special dish’.  He cares about people and his focus is on friendship. He’d much rather have less fuss and have Martha chatting with him. 

And why is Martha doing all this stuff? We don’t know for sure, but chances are she wants Jesus’ approval. When he goes into the toilet, she wants him to be able to hold up a score card of 10 for cleanness. When he tastes that entre, she wants him to lick his lips and say “Martha, this is special.”  Of course, she’ll then say, “Oh it was nothing, just something I whipped up after watching Jamie Oliver.” But inside she’ll be really pleased. She wants to please Jesus. 

Don’t get me wrong, that’s a great motivation, but she has the Son of God in her lounge room and she should be making the most of it.  Jesus doesn’t need what she is offering, he’s the Son of God for crying out loud; but she needs what Jesus is offering. There is the nub of it all – it’s not what we can give Jesus but what he can give us. 

Martha is worried and upset about so many things, says Jesus, but few things are needed. The implication is that what is happening here is part of a bigger problem for Martha – she is “anxious about so many things” [v 41]. Again, we can’t see into her mind, but Jesus goes on  and says that really, only a few things are needed. She needed to work out her priorities. Remember Jesus’ words in the sermon on the mount  that if we live simply, and by that he means make the kingdom of God our number one priority, then everything else we need will be given to us? That is a pretty good deal! Do you believe it? Do you really believe it?  “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” [Matthew 6:33].  

What are you anxious and worried about? If someone was to audit your life what they conclude are your priorities? 

 

PRAYER

Jehovah Jireh, my provider, strengthen my faith by the power given by your Spirit, so that I will get my priorities right and trust you to meet my needs. Amen

 

 

 

DAY 5

Luke 10v25-42

 

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’

41 ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed – or indeed only one.[d] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’

 

Getting back to that lawyer for a second – he thinks that he has to do something for God to earn eternal life and he’s wrong because he can never measure up.  Martha is focussed on what she can do for Jesus, and she misses the point too.  They are both focussed on themselves – what they should do.  The Lawyer on how to be good enough to get eternal life, and Martha on how to make Jesus approve of her. And they both miss the point. Mary, on the other hand, basks in her friendship with Jesus. Sometimes we disciples of Jesus need to stop our frenetic activity, take a deep breath, and then bask in the love of God shown to us in our Lord Jesus.  When was the last time you did that? Take time by yourself to read through a slab of the Psalms and pray and sing.

 

If you think that Christianity is all about what you can do for God to make him accept you, or what you can do for Jesus to make him approve of you, or what you can do for the church, you’ve got it wrong. It’s all about what Jesus has done for you when he died to take your punishment for your failure to obey the laws – what Jesus can do for you right now and into eternity. 

 

It’s not about earning God’s approval.  It’s not about obeying all the rules, even though those things have their place.  No, it’s all about God’s forgiving love, his mercy, as we call it. It’s all about what Jesus is offering us.

Faith in Jesus is not about rules but about a friendship with him. It’s about walking through life with Jesus. It’s about doing what pleases him, not to earn his approval but because you’re friends. Mary got that right. 

 

You might be a Martha, a believer trying your hardest to make God approve of you.  Forget it.  He already does, just enjoy the friendship and try to please him because you’re friends, not to make him your friend. 

Or you may be outside the friendship. You might be thinking that Faith in Jesus is all about rules and more rules and about making sure you’re good enough to get to heaven.  Forget that. You need God’s loving forgiveness and Jesus’ friendship. You get eternal life entering into a friendship with God through Jesus. Apologise and beg for forgiveness and tell God that you want to be different. It’s like any other relationship at that point.  Say you’re sorry and mean it. Decide to change. Ask for God’s forgiveness. Start a friendship with Jesus. 

 

PRAYER

Father of my Lord Jesus, who strengthens me through your Spirit, keep my focussed on your grace and save me from falling back into trying to earn your approval. Amen

 

 

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