Friday in the Sixteenth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 10:25-37

Who Is My Neighbor?

Here is one of the most popular parables Jesus ever told.  Indeed, in America today we have “Good Samaritan” laws protecting people who try to help others in dangerous situations.  In today’s climate of biblical ignorance, it is doubtful most people even know where such laws get their name.  But be that as it may, the very title of these laws speaks to the eternal relevance of our Lord’s words and teachings.

So a lawyer stands up to test Jesus.  I am amazed at the patience of our Lord who would endure these verbal contests at the mouths of people he created; I’m quite sure no one will be challenging him on Judgment Day.  So he asks, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus replies to the lawyer, “What is written in the law?  How do you read it?” putting the question back to him.  So the lawyer answers, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”  Jesus responds, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.”  The Apostle Paul said, “Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully” (1 Timothy 1:8).  Of course, the lawyer can’t do this anymore than we can.  And as proof of this, the lawyer, who is aggravated that Jesus turned the tables on him, and “desiring to justify himself,” and for whom the command, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” is obviously meaningless, thinks he’ll get the best of Jesus, asking, “And who is my neighbor?”

The very question itself stands as an indictment on the lawyer, for it is obvious that he wants to limit the number of people who fit that description.  This is one reason why the law will never save us, not because there is anything wrong with it (“the law is holy,” Romans 7:12), but because there is so much wrong with us; that is, it is too easily manipulated to suit human sin.  So Jesus tells that immortal story in which a hated Samaritan, of all people, helps a wounded stranger, and that after a priest and Levite walk on by.  So who was this man’s neighbor?  And you can hear the lawyer choke out the words, “The one who showed him mercy,” unwilling to bring himself to say, “The Samaritan.”  Jesus answers, “Go and do likewise.”

And so the question comes to us, “Do we follow the law as it is written, or only as we manipulate it, to suit our own prejudices?”  So act as one under the law of liberty (that is, grace), and know the freedom of selfless service and a clear conscience (James 2:12).

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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