1. This account is found only in Luke. It is plainly a parable though Lk. Does not call it a parable. Whether or not it is a true-life story is not known. The Jews hated the Samaritans and considered them heathen. A parable in which a Samaritan would show mercy and selfless love to a Jew would be most exceptional and would make the Jew think. The lawyer in vs. 25 was an expert in Jewish Law.
2. Vs. 29 tells us that this lawyer wished to justify himself. That means that he wanted to make himself appear righteous though he was not. In vs. 25 he should have asked "What has God done to save me?" And in vs. 29 he shows his ignorance by asking "Who is my neighbor?" He did not know true love, either of God or of man. He was still unconverted, without true faith toward God and love toward neighbor.
3. In vs. 28 Jesus commended the lawyer on his answer in vs. 27. At Mt. 22:35-40 Jesus says that the whole Bible can be summarized in these two commandments. To love the Lord with one's whole heart, soul and mind means to trust in His mercy and love. To love one's neighbor means to do for him what one does for himself. This lawyer did not know the meaning of the word love. Faith toward God and love toward our neighbor are gifts of God which come to us in the means of grace, the Gospel, baptism and the Lord's Supper. The Bible does not tell us to love God as we love ourselves nor does it say that we should love our neighbor with our whole heart, soul and mind. To love God means to have faith and trust in Him. To love our neighbor means to do for him what we do for ourselves. It is clear that this lawyer did not know that. In vs. 37 when Jesus said: "Go and do likewise" He meant "You've not been trusting God as you should. You've not been showing mercy for your neighbor."
4. Did this lawyer become a Christian? We do not know but we need not know. The parable is spoken to us. What does it do for us? The same thing as it did for the lawyer. He must confess that in dealing with our neighbor we are like the Priest and the Levite, heartless and merciless toward other people. The robbers left the man half-dead on the side of the road. The priest and the Levite, who should have known better, sinned just as greatly as did the robbers. They showed no mercy. We are just as sinful as the priest and Levite. We are in need of forgiveness of our sins. But the Samaritan is an example of the man of God. He is a man of mercy. He has faith toward God and love for neighbor. In vs. 28 Jesus said: "This do and you will live." He meant: "You must love the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind. That is saving faith. And you must love your neighbor as yourself. You must do for him what you do for yourself."
5. Gal. 5:6 says that the important thing is faith which shows itself by love. Js. 2:26 says "Faith without works is dead." Where there is true faith there will be good works and where there are good works there will be true faith. Jesus is the Vine. We are the branches. Only because of Him we are fruitful.
6. Not only did the Samaritan rescue the victim but even took him to an inn, took care of him and made provision for his immediate future. That is true love, doing for others what we do for ourselves. He gave the inn- keeper two denaria. That's two days' wages, quite a sum of money.
7. The lawyer correctly quoted Deut. 6:5 and Lev. 19:18 to summarize the Bible as Jesus did at Mt. 22:35-40 but this lawyer did not know what the words truly meant, though he was considered an expert.
8. At Lk. 6:36 Jesus says: "Be merciful just as your Father is merciful." David cried (Ps. 51:1) "Have mercy on me, 0 God." St. Paul gives all glory to God for His mercy in Christ. I Tim. 1:12-17. The OT says about twelve times: "oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good." How? "Because His mercy endures forever." God be merciful to me and help me to be merciful to my neighbor.
THEME: JESUS INSTRUCTS AN IGNORANT BIBLE SCHOLAR
In Jn. 3:1-21 we read about Nicodemus who was not a Christian when he came to Christ but who became a Christian later. See Jn. 7:50 and 19:39. In our text today we have a Jewish Bible Scholar who comes to Jesus only to test and tempt Him. By his answers and questions we know that he was not a Christian. But Jesus taught him. We know not what became of him. But the text teaches us.
I. HOW WE KNOW THAT THIS BIBLE SCHOLAR WAS IGNORANT
A. He came to Jesus with the wrong attitude. Vs. 25 says that he came to Jesus to tempt and test Him, not to learn from Him. That warns us as to what follows.
B. He rightly quoted two OT passages but did not understand them correctly: Deut. 6:5 "Thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind." Lev. 19:18 "Thou shalt love your neighbor as yourself." When Jesus was once asked (Mt. 22:35-40) which are the great commandments of the Bible He quoted these two OT passages and then said: "The whole Bible is summarized in these two passages." What did He mean? He meant that to love God with one's entire being means to believe and trust in Him for every need of body and soul. This faith brings new life. And He meant that we prove our faith by loving our neighbor, doing for him what we do for ourselves. This faith in Christ and love toward neighbor is a summary of all of Christianity. The whole Bible is summarized in these two passages. But this Bible Scholar betrayed the fact that he did not do this. He betrays the fact that he thought he was saved only by his own works. C. He betrays his ignorance by his questions. In vs. 25 he asks: "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" He was basing his salvation on what HE not God, does. And though Jesus commends him on his answer we are told that he wanted to justify himself, make himself look good. And then he asked another question of ignorance: "Who is my neighbor?" A true Christian does not ask this question because he knows that ALL people are his neighbor, an object of his love. By the way, when Jesus said: "This do and you wilt live" He meant "Trust in the Lord for your salvation and prove your faith by your works." Jesus said: "You've answered correctly." His answer was correct but his question proved that his attitude was wrong.
II. HOW JESUS CORRECTS AND INSTRUCTS THIS IGNORANT BIBLE SCHOLAR
A. A Christian proves his attitude by his attitude toward his neighbor. There are many examples of this in the Bible. For example, in Gal. 5 after Paul has explained that Christ has made us free from sin, death and the devil he says, vss. 13-14: "You have been called to freedom, brothers. But don't misuse your freedom to commit sin but by love serve one another. For the whole Law is summarized in one sentence 'You shall love your neighbor as you love yourself'." Again, I Jn. 4:19: "We love because He first loved us." And again, I Jn. 4:10: "In this is love not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son as a payment for our sins."
B. The true purpose of the parable in our text. Jesus pictures this Samaritan as a person whose attitude toward God was correct and therefore his attitude toward his neighbor in need was correct too. This Bible Scholar confessed that the one who had mercy proved to be his neighbor. Only the true Christian knows what mercy is. And so when Jesus said: "Go and do likewise" he meant that this Scholar should confess his sin, trust in Jesus and then prove to be merciful just as Jesus is merciful. Jesus said: "Do this and you will live." He means: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do for your neighbor what you do for yourself."