The Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37, is God’s way of illustrating to man the definition of true love. “The Parable teaches that authentic spiritual life is defined not by ethnic heritage but by love for God and others” (Strauss, 2007, p. 274). In the context of this scripture, the religious Jews weren’t really trying to find an answer for their question about inheriting eternal life. They were fixated on the Mosaic law and their works and didn’t see any fault within themselves. Jesus’ response to their very important question is true for us today as well. No one will inherit eternal life without fulfilling the sum total of the Law, which is to love how God requires through his grace, faith, and repentance.
When an expert of the law asked Jesus what must he do to inherit eternal life (Luke 10:25), Jesus basically told him to mention what the Law said and the man responded with an OT scripture. The New Testament version reads: “’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’” (Luke 10:27, New International Version). Many Jewish people in that time and even today, are fixated with the mere human works of the Law. Sadly, some Christians even focus on the Law of Moses too. For Christians, I believe this is because a lack of understanding of the new covenant of grace. Growing up in my past church we were condemned for our sins, spent most of our time in church performing religious acts, and always talked about burning in hell. I thought that Christianity was all about what Icould or couldn’t do. Never did I actually focus on helping others and getting to know God for myself.
The Jewish council were well-educated when it came to the Law of Moses. “Their use of parables was to explain or illustrate the meaning of the Mosaic Law, but Jesus’ gave new revelation” (Sproul, n.d.). “Jesus’ demonstrated unique features, being generally less adjudicatory and more provocative, more self-referential, and more eschatological than the rabbinic counterparts” (Perrin, Brown, & Green, 2013, p. 653). Even in ancient times, the Jews didn’t realize that the sum total of the Law was to love God and others (Matthew 22:37-40). In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus was explaining to the questioning man that he wasn’t interested in his works but in his heart because no one other than himself could ever fulfill the works of the Law. Anyone that is self-righteous because of their so-called obedience to the law, is a fool that will not inherit eternal life. Salvation comes through Christ alone by grace through faith. One has to recognize their wrongs and realize that they can never be a perfecter of God’s holy standards. We have to repent and be born-again (John 3:1-21). But what most fail to realize is that we have to accept God’s love and turn around and be love to his people (1 John 4:11).
The Bible states in 1 John 4:8 (NIV), “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” So, Jesus was telling this man that the law couldn’t save him. In Luke 18:18-30, Jesus had a conversation with a rich ruler and asked the same question about inheriting eternal life. This particular man was self-righteous and self-made. He wasn’t enthusiastic about changing his heart in order to receive the Kingdom of God. People are saved by God’s grace. He makes a person born-again and grants or gives them repentance and faith. The person then exercises faith in the Lord Jesus alone. True love of God naturally results in love to others through righteous living that glorifies God and does no harm to people. The message of the Parable of the Good Samaritan is about love. If one doesn’t love God and his people, they will not inherit his Kingdom. Jesus wanted this misunderstood lawyer to understand that everyone is our neighbor. By using an example of a good Samaritan, God wants people to love other people no matter who they are. We are all created by God and deserved to be loved because God is love.
Perrin, N., Brown, J. K., & Green, J. B. (2013). Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic. Retrieved from https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.ccu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=633424&site=ehost-live
Sproul, R. C. (n.d.). The parables of Jesus. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/the-parables-of-jesus/introduction/
Strauss, M. (2007). Four portraits, one Jesus: A survey of Jesus and the Gospels (1st ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.