The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, And who is my neighbor?
Luke 10:29 (NLT)
Luke recounts the story of how a lawyer stood up one day to test Jesus. The question he asked Jesus was, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus responds by asking the lawyer a question. He asked him what the Law of Moses said. The lawyer responds by quoting from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18.
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.
Jesus tells him that he has answered correctly and if he does this, he shall live. (Luke 10:28)
Have you ever noticed that often times when we ask God a question, He will respond by asking us a question? Have you also ever noticed that when He does, we must give Him an answer and usually that answer will make us squirm a bit? I understand how that lawyer must have felt at the moment for after Jesus responded, the Bible says:
But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, And who is my neighbor?
Luke 10:29 (NLT)
The lawyer would have been familiar with this passage from the second century B.C. Rabbinical writings of Ben Sira and like most scholars and religious leaders of the day, agreed with it.
If you do good, know to whom you do it, and you will be thanked for your good deeds.
Do good to the devout, and you will be repaid - if not by them, certainly by the Most High.
No good comes to one who persists in evil or to one who does not give alms.
Give to the devout, but do not help the sinner.
Do good to the humble, but do not give to the ungodly; hold back their bread, and do not give it to them, for by means of it they might subdue you; then you will receive twice as much evil for all the good you have done to them.
For the Most High also hates sinners and will inflict punishment on the ungodly.
Give to the one who is good, but do not help the sinner.
Sirach 12:1-7 (New Revised Standard w/Apocrypha)
With this in mind, the lawyer was no doubt expecting that Jesus would tell him that his neighbor was his family and friends or at least fellow Jews. Jesus doesn't do that. Instead Jesus tells him the story of The Good Samaritan.
God calls us to a higher level than what the world lives and this is the way we should live. Are we?
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