Luke 10:25-37 (ESV)

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 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.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” 29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

An expert in the Jewish law tried to test Jesus. He asked Jesus what he would have to do to share in the resurrection at the end of the age. In other words, how can one be sure he is saved? Jesus responded by asking the lawyer about what he had learned from studying God’s revealed will for humanity. Think about that! The lawyer asked Jesus what he must do to be saved, and Jesus responded by asking the lawyer what the Scripture said he must do to be saved. The lawyer ended up answering his own question, even though it was originally intended to trick Jesus. The lawyer responded by citing Deuteronomy 6:5. You must love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind. And as Leviticus 19:18 declares, love for God implies love for our fellow humans. Jesus said the lawyer answered correctly and then added, “Do this, and you will live.” Well, that’s easier said than done! Was Jesus saying works could save us? Not at all! Who can say she has perfectly loved God and loved others? Clearly no one, not even the lawyer, has lived consistently with God’s law. Sensing this, the lawyer hoped to tone down the demand of God a notch, and tried to justify himself by asking who his neighbor was. Jesus showed him through the Parable of the Good Samaritan that all people should be considered neighbors.

It’s amazing how Jesus turned the tables on the lawyer in this conversation. The lawyer was looking for the bottom line. What was the minimum we could do and still be sure of his salvation? Jesus showed him the minimum requirement was nothing less than total and complete devotion to God and the rest of mankind. No one can do this without fail. We have all sinned and we all need Jesus to stand in the gap between God and us. And yet, if we are Christians, we can ask the Spirit of God to help us live more closely to his design for our lives. The world pushes us to “find ourselves” and take care of our own needs, yet Jesus calls us to prioritize God and our fellow humans. If Jesus loves us, let’s be satisfied in his love and respond by devoting ourselves to him and to those around us. Seek to lose yourself by loving God and meeting the needs of others.