Study Notes

Luke 10:25-37

10:25-28 Lawyer

This was not a lawyer in the sense that we think of lawyers today. Instead of someone who specialized in prosecution or defense, this type of lawyer was an expert in the Jewish religious laws. "He was not part of the judicial system; but rather, he was an interpreter of the Mosaic Law." (McGee)

Give Him the Law

This lawyer asks, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" What shall I do? This man was under the mistaken impression that his works could gain him eternal life.

How does Jesus respond? He says "What is written in the Law?" Because he Law is perfection - if a man keeps it all every day of his life, he would have no condemnation before God. But he must keep it all, for Scripture says,

James 2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.

So, because all men are sinners and cannot walk in perfection,

Hebr. 7:19 ...the Law made nothing perfect...

Two Responses

Why in the world would Jesus point this Lawyer to the Law knowing full well that the Lawyer could not keep the Law?

Matt 19, Mark 10, and Luke 18 tell us that He is asked this question by another man - a rich young ruler - who was convinced that he had kept all the commandments. And Jesus gave him the same answer - the Law.

But when Nicodemus the Pharisee came to Him inquiring, Jesus told Him:

John 3:14-17 "...As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes may, in Him, have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him."

Why would Jesus give the Law to the lawyer and the rich young ruler, but present a message of grace to Nicodemus? Because Jesus' ministry was: Law to the proud, and Grace to the humble. "With the Law, He breaks the hard heart, and with the gospel, He heals the broken heart."(Comfort)

Nicodemus had already been condemned by the Law. But Lawyer and the rich young ruler had no sense of their condemnation before God. The rich young ruler said, "I have kept the commandments from my youth." And the Lawyer was "wishing to justify himself".

You see, neither one of them had yet come to a place where they had been condemned by the law; to a place where they knew that they had sinned against God; to a place of repentance from their sin. But Nicodemus knew that the Law had condemned him - he knew that his sin had separated him from God - and he knew Jesus was the one to go to.

Is the Law worthless?

Growing up as evangelical Christians, we've been taught that the Law is bad - that it was only for the Jews, and that it breeds legalism. But the Law is both valuable and essential. The Scriptures say that the Law speaks...

Rom. 3:19 ...that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God

You see, all the world, not just the Jews, becomes accountable to God through the Law. The book of Romans says:

Rom. 3:20 ...through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

And Paul the apostle said:

Rom. 7:7 ...I would not have come to know sin except through the Law...

And in Galatians, he writes that:

Gal. 3:24 ...the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith.

What does the Law of God do? What purpose do the Ten Commandments serve? As a teacher - showing us our sin. As an illuminator - revealing the darkness in our hearts. Demonstrating to people that they are sinners, hopelessly separated from God because of their sin.

Until a person realizes that he's lost, he has no desire to be found. Until a person understands that he's trapped, he has no desire to escape. Until a person finds that he's guilty, he has no desire to be pardoned. Until a person sees his sin, he has no need for a Savior. That is why 1Corinthians 1:18 says:

1Cor. 1:18 For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

If someone hasn't first heard that they've broken God's Law, and the penalty is death, then the good news that their debt has been paid for and pardoned is foolishness. But when someone has been condemned by the Law for their sin, and they realize that they are separated from God, then the message of mercy is like music to their ears.

Grace Before The Law

We too often try to convert people to a Christian lifestyle instead of trying to save people from the death penalty of their sin. We do this by preaching the gospel of "Jesus Christ will give you peace, love, and happiness" instead of warning them that they are going to hell. To understand the results of these two gospels, let me tell you a short fairy tale:

Once upon a time, in a small medieval village, there were two men. One day a stranger came into the village. He went up to the first man with an odd-looking hooded jumpsuit made of asbestos. He offered it to the man and told him, "This suit is so comfortable, just wearing it will make your day very enjoyable! Good things will happen to you, and your quality of life will improve!" "Great, thanks!" the man said, and put it on immediately.

Now the stranger met up with the second man. He said, "There is a deadly fire-breathing dragon on his way to this village, who will destroy every building and person in this village with fire. Your only hope, your only protection is to put on this asbestos suit." "Great, thanks!" the man said, and put it on immediately.

Meanwhile, the first man who had been told that the suit would improve his quality of life wasn't doing so well. You see, the suit was a little warm. And scratchy. Plus, as he walked around, people began to make fun of him. He finally got fed up with the heat, the scratchiness, and the mocking. He became bitter, took the suit off, and threw it away. It would be a long time before anyone convinced him to wear a suit like that again!

The second man who had been warned about the dragon was having a different experience. Sure, the suit was a bit warm, but he figured it was much better than being cooked alive by a dragon! And yes, it was a little scratchy, but what was a little discomfort compared to knowing that his life would be saved? And when people began to make fun of him, he did not become bitter, but actually felt sorry for those that did not have asbestos suits to protect themselves.

Surveys show that 9 out of 10 Americans who have responded to the gospel and prayed a sinner's prayer end up walking away from their commitment to Christ. Why? For the same reason that the first man took off the asbestos suit. The suit hadn't lived up to what the first man had been promised. After a time, he became disillusioned and threw it away. But the second man was thankful, and nothing in the world could make him take off that suit.

When we preach a "better quality of life" Christianity, we are setting people up for failure and bitterness. The suit isn't always comfortable, but that's not why we're wearing it. We're wearing it to be saved from a firey future.

I'm Not A Legalist

I don't want anyone to leave here misunderstanding what I am saying. The Law absolutely is valuable to illuminate sin - to draw a person to the mercy and grace of God. The Law absolutely is not a means of salvation. Galatians 2:16 says:

Gal. 2:16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.

And Now, Back To Our Story

So Jesus gives the Law to this prideful lawyer. Since his question is "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?", the answer is, "Keep the law of God, and keep it perfectly." Jesus knows that this man who relies on his own righteousness will finally come to an end of himself, and then appeal to the grace and mercy of God.

But even now, the lawyer is wondering how he can accomplish this.

10:29 Wishing To Justify Himself

Wishing to justify himself. He still doesn't understand that he will not be able to meet the righteousness required by God's Law. He is personally convinced that he loves the Lord with everything he has and everything he is.

As a matter of fact, now he's looking for a loophole in the Law to make sure he fulfills the neighbor part. "Who is my neighbor?" he asks. Jesus answers him with this story:

10:30-35 The Road to Jerico

The road from Jerusalem to Jerico was infamous, treacherous and dangerous. In the book of Joshua we read that the name of it was "Adummim" (Ah-doo-miym), meaning "The Pass of Blood". It was a rocky gorge with twists and turns - many places to set up an ambush, and plenty of thieves around to do it.

The Clergy Fail To Help

A priest and a Levite walk by at separate times, and walk around the man. They probably had many excuses - "I'm too busy... he's probably dead already... I'm already late... what could I do anyway...?" Charles Spurgeon said, "I never knew a man refuse to help the poor who failed to give at least one admirable excuse." What would my excuse have been? What would yours have been?

The Good Samaritan

Funny how the english language has adopted this Biblical parable into a saying: "Good Samaritan". That's a guy who does good deeds. We call nice people "Good Samaritans", and give out "Good Samaritan" awards, there's even a "Good Sam" club. But the word "Samaritan" to a Jew was offensive. As far as the Jews were concerned, they were lower than Gentiles. You see, they were half-breeds; half Jew, half Gentile. The Jews hated them so much, that when traveling from Judea to Galilee, they actually crossed the Jordan into Perea, taking the long way around Samaria just to avoid setting foot on their soil. As a matter of fact, when the Jews could think of no higher insult for Jesus, they said:

John 8:48 "Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan...?"

But this Samaritan helps this Jew, even paying enough for his hotel room to last 2 or 3 weeks. The practical application for us is obvious. But for this lawyer, Jesus was showing him how short he fell of the Law. "Who is my neighbor that I'm supposed to love as myself?" He had asked, and Jesus showed him a Samaritan.

10:36-37 Go and do the same

Jesus asks the lawyer: "Who was a neighbor?" The lawyer can't even say the name "Samaritan". He says, "The one who showed mercy." And in His final act of allowing the Law to break this man's heart, that the gospel could heal it, Jesus tells him, "Go and do the same."

Have you realized yet that you can't gain eternal life by good works? Stop trying to work your way to heaven and simply believe that Jesus Christ paid your way in.