“Now an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus, saying, ‘Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? How do you understand it?’ The expert answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.’ But the expert, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” —Luke 10:25–29
This was a test given by an expert in God’s Law to try and trip up Jesus. The man was trying to justify himself. Big mistake! Those who pursue this strategy always get more than they bargain for.
The question this man posed had surfaced several times before. It was asked by the rich young ruler (recorded in both Matthew 19:16 and Luke 18:18) who was also seeking to justify his actions. And Nicodemus presented this question in honest earnestness to Jesus in John chapter three. Our expert in today’s verses lacked sincerity as seen in the two points given in the text: He wanted to test Jesus and he wanted to justify himself. Jesus drives him back to the Law by answering the man’s question with two others. The expert answers Jesus by quoting passages from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. But (and this is a big “BUT”), after hearing Jesus’ words inviting him to obedience, the expert seeks to qualify Jesus’ command with a question, “And who is my neighbor?” The proper response should have been “How can I do this?” or “I am not able—I need help.” This is also the proper response for each one of us!
The Bible tells us:
“But now apart from the law the righteousness of God (although it is attested by the law and the prophets) has been disclosed—namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” —Romans 3:21–24
Paul tells us that no one is declared righteous by observing the Law because no one can keep the law perfectly: “all have sinned.” Our righteousness comes through faith in Christ—and it is offered to each and every one of us!
“Here there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and in all.” —Colossians 3:11
All barriers are destroyed in Christ. We all come to the cross needing a Savior—no exceptions. And Jesus clothes each and every one of us with His righteousness!
“God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.” —2 Corinthians 5:21
“For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him. The one who believes in him is not condemned. The one who does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. Now this is the basis for judging: that the light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil deeds hates the light and does not come to the light, so that their deeds will not be exposed. But the one who practices the truth comes to the light, so that it may be plainly evident that his deeds have been done in God.” —John 3:16–21
God’s motivation towards people is love—not limited to just one group of people or a few, but toward the whole world. The expression of His love was His most priceless gift—His precious Son.
“For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.” —1 Corinthians 15:22