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Biblical/Doctrinal Studies:
Focus on Jesus Series

Additional Thoughts on the Good Samaritan Parable
Notes on Luke 10:25-27
by Ed Vasicek

Since I do not have time to bring all these details to you during the sermon, here are some extra comments to help you understand this passage in a greater way. Let me present this info by asking and answering two questions.

  1. Why did Jesus say that if the Torah expert kept the two great commandments—loving God and his neighbor—he would inherit eternal life?

    Here are two potential answers from two respected commentators.

    Reformed scholar William Hendrickson writes, "…If any human being would actually fulfill this law of love to perfection, he would indeed obtain everlasting life. There was nothing wrong with this high requirement of the law: 'The Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good' (Romans 7:12). 'The man who does these things will live by them' (Galatians 3:12). The trouble is not with the divine principle that perfect obedience results in everlasting life. What, then, is wrong? Paul answers in these words, 'We know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin' (Romans 7:14). If only the law-expert will now admit this. If only he will cry out, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner...."

    Dallas Seminary scholar J. Dwight Pentecost writes, "...It must be realized that in Jewish thinking entrance into the messianic kingdom was equated with inheriting eternal life. The millennial kingdom was the stepping stone to the eternal kingdom.... The question of the law expert in Luke 10:25, then, must be understood to mean, 'How righteous must I be to enter the messianic kingdom that You are offering?'"

    However we look at it, the matter is academic. Outside of Jesus, no one has perfectly—or even near perfectly—loved God and one's neighbor as they should. We are lost because we are sinners by nature, and our failure to live up to God's expectations merely reflects who we are, sinners in need of a Savior.

  2. Are there Jewish aspects to this parable that are overlooked?

    Glad you asked. And how there are. In the parable, it is very important to realize that the priest and the Levite were Sadducees by creed. That meant they believed only the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. The Samaritans (who were basically a mixed breed of disenfranchised Jews) likewise only recognized the Torah. The Law Expert was a Pharisee; he believed the entire Old Testament and recognized the traditions and rulings of the Rabbis. The Pharisees taught that a Jew was OBLIGATED to help a wounded or weak person, even if it meant ceremonial defilement. The Law expert would have anticipated a Pharisee coming by and helping the man. When Jesus gave a Samaritan the role of hero, it must have been an added shock to this expert in the Law.

    Also worth noting is that the priest was coming DOWN the road. Since the road that connected Jerusalem to Jericho was steeply downhill from Jerusalem, the priest had already performed his duty and was returning. Getting defiled was not an issue here.

Pastor Ed

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Kokomo, Indiana, USA
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