Justify Self - Luke 10
Justify Self - Luke 10
One of the well-known stories of Jesus is that of the good Samaritan; less well-known is the setting that brought forth this story. A lawyer (of the law of Moses), tested Jesus. He wasn't really looking for an answer, but was seeing if Jesus would give the same answer as the other teachers of the law had given. Hence he asked: "what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"
Jesus, rather than answering, pointed this scholar back to the very text of God. The answer for such questions is not found in the teaching of men but in the Word of God. Hence Jesus asked: "What is written in the Law? How do you read it?" (26).
It is interesting that Jesus understood that the written word which they had was the Law of God for them. They 'only had copies of copies', (as some modern writers often remind us), YET it was STILL the Law of God.
He also expected that this man not only could read and understand, but that he HAD read an understood. In saying to the man: "you have answered correctly", Jesus shows that people could read and come to a correct understanding. Jesus then challenged this man to DO what he understood God to have said! Jesus expected people to read, understand, and do. Reading was not doing. Understanding was not doing. Doing is doing. As James would later write: "for him who knows to do good and does it not, to him it is sin" (James 4:17).
The lawyer showed his real attitude problem as he attempts to 'justify self'. In this he shows his guilt. Knowing that he should love his neighbor, he attempts to justify his NOT doing so. Claiming 'ignorance' (i.e., I don't know who my neighbor really is), is supposed to free him of the obligation of doing such. Jesus doesn't buy it! It is at this point that Jesus tells the story of the good Samaritan. Your neighbor is whomever you can be a neighbor to.
How many times have people resorted to making the Word of God of now effect by refusing to know what they know. Yes, there are some difficult texts, but we are expected to read, understand, and do. "Put away lying and speak the truth" become impossible to do as men 'plumb the depths of what lying really is' only to excuse themselves for not telling the truth.
"Repent and baptized each one of you for the remission of sins" produces debate rather than obedience. What does 'baptize' mean? What does 'for' mean? "It doesn't seem to me that being baptized can bring about forgiveness." Etc., Etc. Men still try to justify themselves as they reject the counsel of God.
While the lawyer was directed to the Law of Moses, today we are directed to the words of Jesus. What is written? How do you read? Are you DOING what you understand? Do we need to be told a good Samaritan story before we are obedient?