Scripture: Luke 10:25-37
This Sunday is our last sermon in our series, Hidden Angels, and we will be discussing the parable of the Good Samaritan and what this says about our responsibility as Christians toward the world. This parable is very unique because it encapsulates the Christian walk in a way that nothing else does in the New Testament.
The impetus for Jesus telling the parable of the Good Samaritan comes from a conversation Jesus has with a lawyer. The lawyer poses the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus does what any good rabbi would do, he answers the question with a question, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” The lawyer answers Jesus’ question with what has become known as the greatest commandment: “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.”
What’s so fascinating about the lawyer’s answer is that, in the other gospels (Mark and Matthew), Jesus is the one who speaks the greatest commandment. But in Luke’s gospel, the greatest commandment is not credited to Jesus. Some random lawyer without a name developed the most central tenet of the Christian faith. There’s a reason why Luke flips the narrative when it comes to the greatest commandment.
We’re all familiar with the words of the greatest commandment, but living it out is a completely different issue. Luke wants the lawyer to speak the greatest commandment because it allows Jesus the opportunity to explain what the commandment means. For Luke, the commandment itself means nothing if you don’t know how to properly interpret it. So following the lawyer’s answer, the text reads: But wanting to justify himself, [the lawyer] asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” This is where the parable begins.
In my five and a half years at First Pres, I have not had a chance to talk about this parable, which is one of the most important in all of the New Testament. I hope you can be present as it will be a wonderful capstone to end the series. It’s getting really cold out there, so stay warm with family and friends! I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.