Friday, February 19, 2010

The Point of the Good Samaritan (part 2)

Yesterday I wrote in my post about the real point of Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan. It came about in a discussion with a lawyer who asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. The lawyer said to love God and love his neighbor. Jesus told him to do that perfectly and he would get eternal live. The lawyer knew he had failed in this, so trying to justify himself he asked, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus responds to this question with the story of the Good Samaritan.

When Jesus finished the story, he asks the lawyer another question. This is in response to the lawyer’s question, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus asks, “Of the three (the Priest, the Levite and the Samaritan) who was more of a neighbor to the man who had been beaten?

The lawyer answers, “The one who showed mercy.” I find that amazing because it shows just how much disdain there was among the Jews toward the Samaritans. This lawyer could not even say the word, ‘Samaritan.' Instead he said, “The one.

Jesus then ends the discussion with this command, “Go and do the same.” Again the wording would be “Go and keep on doing the same.” What is Jesus saying? He is saying, “I’ll tell you what you must do to get eternal life. You must with compassion and action love anyone who is in need, even if it is your enemy, and you must do this all the time.” Now we know from Matthew 22:40 that all the Law and the Prophets depend on the commands to love God and love your neighbor so what Jesus is really saying is this, “To get eternal life you must obey the Law perfectly and do so all the time.”

OUCH! That is extremely devastating. Why is it so devastating? It’s devastating because I have not since the day I was born loved God perfectly. I have not since the day I was born loved my neighbor, especially my enemies, perfectly. I have not since the day I was born obeyed the law perfectly. I have failed to do the only thing I can do to get eternal life. And the same is true of everyone who is reading this posting right now no matter who you are or where you are.

So what is the bottom line of Jesus story? The bottom line is that it is impossible on our own to inherit eternal life. If we are going to get eternal life, it will not be because of anything we have done. If we are going to get to heaven, God is going to have to show us mercy. And that is exactly what God did on the cross through Jesus Christ. When Jesus Christ died on the cross He did so as a substitute for our sin. He paid the penalty for our sin. Our sin was credited to His account and God poured out His righteous wrath and punishment on Jesus for our sin. There is nothing we can do to inherit eternal life. Everything that had to be done took place through Jesus on the cross. Getting to heaven is not about what we DO – it is about what Jesus has already DONE.

That is why 1 John 5:11-12 says, “And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has eternal life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” So what are you trusting for your eternal life? Are you trusting what you DO or are you trusting what Jesus has DONE? If you’re trusting in what you DO, you are in deep eternal trouble. If you’re trusting in what Jesus has already DONE you are on your way to heaven.

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