Whilst we often concern ourselves with questions regarding our employment, happiness and appearance, the most fundamental question that can be asked is regarding our standing with God and our eternal destination. Within this passage, Luke shows us in a masterly way that these can only be obtained by the Law or the Gospel.
Love Others [Luke 10:25-37]
25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?”
27 So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbour as yourself.’”
28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”
29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?”
30 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed,[j] he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ 36 So which of these three do you think was neighbour to him who fell among the thieves?”
37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
Jesus, whilst having a private conversation with His disciples [Luke 10:23-24], is interrupted by a theologian who seeks to test Him publicly by asking Him the deed or deeds that need to be accomplished “to inherit eternal life.” Jesus replies by asking him his opinions upon the matter, at which point the lawyer responds by a popular summation of the Law – love God and love others. Interestingly, Jesus concurs, something that He does on another similar occasion [Luke 18:18-21], thereby showing that a perfect fulfilment of Law obtains for man God’s favour and eternal life. This lawyer, however, is not happy to leave it there, “wanting to justify himself” he goes on to ask Jesus “who is my neighbour?” It is here that Jesus shares with him a parable, which shows that our neighbour is any person who finds themselves in need, regardless of their race, religion or enmity towards us.
APPLICATION: Despite the fact that many people see Christianity as a regressive force, no one can help but acknowledge that the intrinsic worth of the individual is exclusive to Christian ethics even if the Church has not always practised it. However, in places and in times in which it has, even “undesirables” like convicts, the handicapped and the mentally insane were treated with a dignity that was almost totally lacking in the so-called bastions of civilisation like Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome. This week why not look for ways in which we might be a better neighbour for those who are truly in need. This could be through volunteering within the local school or a charity group for the disadvantaged, visiting people in prison or even offering help the sick or elderly people within our community.
Love God [Luke 10:38-42]
38 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”
41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Here, Luke to realise that the parable may be misunderstood and lead some towards a works-based-righteousness and therefore places another account into the text to compliment it. Within this passage, Jesus goes to visit His dear friends Mary and Martha [John 11:5]. In this account, we find that while Mary sits at Jesus’ feet listening to His teaching, Martha is “distracted with much serving,” so much so, that she begins to show contempt for Jesus. Jesus responds firmly but lovingly, reminding her of the significance of His teaching over good works. This does not mean that we are to create a false dichotomy between doctrine and deeds [James 2:17-22] like the lawyer did, but it does mean that deeds done without an understanding and love of doctrine can often lead to resentment towards Jesus and sometimes an abandonment of the faith.
APPLICATION: Historically, the Church placed its core doctrine in creeds. Why not try and memorise either the Apostles’ or the Nicene Creed. My wife and I merely read the Apostle’s Creed for a 30 day period after our evening meal and unintentionally memorised it, so it might be a lot easy than you think.
Love the Gospel
Whilst a fulfilment of the Law grants eternal life, man in his natural state, is unable to fulfil it and therefore needs somebody to fulfil the Law for him and through him. This is the Gospel, that Christ did not need to fulfil the Law on His own behalf but fulfilled it on ours, took our sin and transmitted to us His righteousness [2 Corinthians 5:21]. Having done this He fills us with His Spirit which allows us to fulfil it for ourselves [Ezekiel 36:25-28, 2 Peter 1:3]. I am not saying that the regenerate believer will not still struggle with sin though [Romans 7:14-21] but by the power of the Spirit a practical and progressive righteousness will ensue in almost all genuine cases of conversion [1 Corinthians 3:10-15].
APPLICATION: Whilst there are many who regard the filling of the Spirit as some kind of ‘second blessing,’ the Scripture teaches that it is synonymous with genuine conversion [Jeremiah 31:31-34, Ezekiel 36:25-28, John 7:38-39, 1 Corinthians 12:13 and Romans 8:9] which comes by God’s grace [Galatians 3:1-2] and is followed by subsequent in-fillings [Ephesians 5:18-21]. Therefore, I would exhort you to seek God’s empowerment for holiness daily and receive it by faith whether it is accompanied by an intense emotional experience or supernatural phenomena or not. True authenticity of the presence of the Spirit will be evident in the way you begin to think and live and not necessarily in sensational manifestations.
 These “lawyers,” “scribes,” or “experts in religious law” belonged to either the Sadducees or Pharisees and were full-time students of the bible, not too dissimilar to our bible college lecturer or theologians.
 So as not to disempower people or bring unnecessary risk, please exercise some wisdom because not in need of help is actually looking for help. I would advise you to take care that your deeds are not misinterpreted as manipulation or interference. Moreover, I would ask you to exercise caution in lending or giving money particularly if you do not know if it will be misspent or cause offence. Remember, it is better to give a hand-up rather than a hand-out.