Ascension Lutheran Church

Calgary, AB

Fifth Sunday After Pentecost

Luke 10:25-37

[25] Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” [26] He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” [27] 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 given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”
[29] But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” [30] Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, 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 while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. [34] He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. [35] The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ [36] Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” [37] He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

It’s one thing to know the right answer, it’s another to do the right thing. The lawyer knows the right answers—and why not? He likely devoted years of his life to studying the Scriptures, thus he quickly and correctly responds to Jesus’ question about the what was written in the law about inheriting eternal life. But when he asks “who is my neighbour?” Jesus takes the opportunity to tell what has become one of the best-known parables.

The first two characters in the parable, the priest and Levite, would have known the answer to Jesus‘ question about eternal life—love of God and neighbour. Yet when they see the half-dead man, they pass by on the other side of the road. No one would have expected a Samaritan to have known the answer to the question—they were considered ignorant heretics who pretended to know and worship God but really didn’t. Yet it is the Samaritan who stops to rescue the half-dead man and provide for his care.

Jesus then asks the lawyer, another question—not which of the characters in the parable, knew the law, but who fulfilled it by his actions, in being a neighbour. The lawyer says the one who showed mercy (not even mentioning it was the Samaritan).

This parable calls our attention to the importance of not just knowing God’s word, but doing it. Thus Jesus’ final words to the lawyer, “Go and do likewise” You know the law, the teaching, the Scriptures, now go put it into practice trusting God will give you all you need to do so.