Living by the Law of Love

MEMORY VERSE: “Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” —Romans 13:8

LUKE 10:25-37

THE “lawyer” referred to in the first verse of our lesson was one skilled in religious law. In other words, this man was one of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. When he asked Jesus, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” he may have merely been testing his knowledge, or he may have been sincerely seeking information.

Jesus’ reply was, “What is written in the law?” This is essentially the answer Jesus gave to the rich young ruler who asked a similar question. (Matt. 19:17) The law promised life to those who would keep it perfectly, but of course this was beyond the ability of any member of the fallen and dying race.

In the lawyer’s reply to Jesus’ question, he quoted Moses’ summary of the intent of the law, both as it applies to our relationship with God and our attitude toward our fellow men: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbor as thyself.”

Jesus replied to the lawyer, “Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.” The lawyer knew that he was not obtaining life by keeping the law, for he realized that just like everybody else he was aging and dying. So, “willing to justify himself” the lawyer asked, “Who is my neighbor?” It was in reply to this question that Jesus related the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

In the parable a man journeying from Jerusalem to Jericho “fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed.” The lonely road from Jerusalem to Jericho passed through nearly seventeen miles of incredibly desolate country. Robberies were frequent. On this road, at least, the “law and order” issue was prominent even in Jesus’ day. In the instance narrated in the parable the robbed man would have been in desperate need if help had not reached him.

There were occasional travelers on the road, and the first of these to appear and note the robbed and wounded man was a priest, evidently of the Jewish faith. The priest did not choose to help the man in need, but instead deliberately ignored him, passing by on the other side of the road, perhaps to give the impression that he had never seen the man.

Next came a Levite, a member of the tribe of Israel which was specially dedicated to religious service. He also noted the man in distress, but like the priest, chose to pass by on the other side. The parable thus stresses that those who profess to be religious do not always possess and manifest the true spirit of love, the spirit of the Lord, toward those who are in need. This priest and Levite simply did not want to become involved in that which, to their callous minds, was none of their concern.

Then, according to the parable, a Samaritan appeared on the scene. Samaritans were ostracized and hated by the Jews, and if this man had followed the too common selfish instinct engendered by racial prejudice, he also could have passed by on the other side of the road. But he did not. He possessed a spirit of compassion and love which superseded any racial bitterness which might naturally have been his, and he ministered to the man who had been beaten and robbed.

After relating the parable, Jesus asked the lawyer which one of the three he thought had been neighbor to the beaten and robbed man. There was only one answer. It was the “good Samaritan.” What a different world it will be when, as a result of the rulership of Christ’s kingdom, the people of all nations thus become neighborly to one another, each one seeking the well-being of his fellow.

We could also think of the distressed man of the parable as being a neighbor in need. In this application we could think of anyone who is in need as being a neighbor to whom it is our privilege to extend a helping hand.


Quote Moses’ summary of the intent of the Law.

Relate, in your own words, the Parable of the Good Samaritan, and explain the lesson it teaches.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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