Father, may our hearts be wide open for the Spirit to convict and lead us.
Read: Luke 10:25-37 (NIV)
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 neighbor 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 neighbor?” 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 traveled, 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 neighbor 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.”
In this passage, we find the well-known parable of the good Samaritan. Someone who is an expert in the law asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus responds in v. 26, as he does so often, with a question. “What is written in the law?” The man answers correctly. He says the law tells us to love our God with all that we are and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Since the expert already knew the answer, why did he ask? Something interesting happens in v. 29. It says quite plainly, “he wanted to justify himself.” The dictionary defines the word justify as to “free from blame or guilt.” The expert in the law wanted to have a guide on who to love. Surely there are rules for who we should and shouldn’t love! This is what the man, so used to a list of rules and regulations for righteousness, may have expected. But it is not so. God didn’t create us to be exclusive and love inside the comfort zone of who we know. Jesus opens wide the listeners’ hearts by reminding them that it is our duty to love everyone. In this way, the law is fulfilled.
Who are we trying to justify to ourselves that it’s okay not to love?
Lord, please give us the courage and humility to reach outside of our circles. Let us love everyone, just as you have commanded.