Are we sticklers for the law?

August 18, 2016

 

Luke 10:25-27: “On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Yeshua. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” He replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “ ‘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, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

 

The Lord asked this question on purpose, because the Law has more than 10 commandments.

 

V28-37: “You have answered correctly,” Yeshua replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Yeshua, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Yeshua said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So, too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Yeshua told him, “Go and do likewise.”

 

Yeshua asks the expert in the law who was the wounded man’s neighbor, and the man answers, ‘The one who had mercy on him’. He could not even say the merciful man’s name – the Samaritan. We know that there was hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans, especially from the priests and Levites, who looked at them as law-breakers, since the Samaritans did not practice the commands exactly.

 

How would we have behaved if on the way from Jerusalem we saw this wounded man? Or someone in trouble? Many times when I walk outside I see all kinds of people I dislike and not attracted to them; those that look like they could be doing something unlawful. And I see those I know and like, to whom I am attracted and to whom I talk; to whom I can give something they are in need of. The Levites and priests represent the letter of the Law. Are we like those “lawful” people? Or are we merciful to everyone?

 

The Lord here is using expression “coming down from Jerusalem”, not “going up to Jerusalem” – there is a difference. If they were going up to Jerusalem, they could have had a different way of thinking – because they were going to serve at the Temple. Suppose they help this dying man and he dies in their hands. A Levite or a priest that touches a dead body cannot minister at the Temple. But they were on their way out of Jerusalem – they finished their priestly duties. They are supposed to represent the Torah – “love your neighbor as yourself” – they were supposed to help and they didn’t. It is so touching that a Samaritan, the enemy of Israel, who did not practice the Torah in the mind of the Levites, did the right thing. We have much to learn from this and to make much change in ourselves.

 

One day we will all change. But before that, we go through all kinds of processes in order to learn and change. Every believer who wants to change will change according to his understanding of God’s grace and mercy. We change as much as we are ready to receive from Him. When the Lord returns, we will all be changed completely, together. The difference between how we are changing now and what He wants from us is great. If we do not change here, imagine what work He will have to do in Heaven to change us. Just like the blacksmith that works on already flat and shaped piece of iron doesn’t have to do much, so it is when the piece is thick and shapeless, the blacksmith will have to use a lot of force in order to give the desired thickness and form. So it’s preferable for us to change here, while we still have the time.

 

Let us take a moment to reflect that our heart should not work only according to the rules, but according to grace, mercy and love of God. Then we’ll be able to say that this command to love our neighbor as ourselves is part of us and the change that we are undergoing. Most of the people we come into contact with are not believers, and because of this it’s so important to show God’s grace and express His love to them, not to make a difference between them and us in our attitude. What the Samaritan did was to take care of the man’s wounds and show him love. He probably never met the wounded man before that day. This love even grew as he practiced it. The Samaritan gave two denarii to the inn keeper to take care of the wounded man. That was a large sum of money in those days. And he told the inn keeper that he will refund the additional expenses later. He gave as much as was needed without being stingy.

 

We also can point people who are hurting to God and help them to find healing. We also can give without being stingy. We also can practice love that grows as we do it. We pray that God will direct and change us in the love of the Messiah.

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