Sabbath, July 13, 2013
“In the story of the good Samaritan, Christ illustrates the nature of true religion. He shows that it consists not in systems, creeds, or rites, but in the performance of loving deeds, in bringing the greatest good to others, in genuine goodness.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 497.
A question of eternal life
1. What question was addressed to the Saviour by an expert in Moses’ law? With what question did Jesus respond to the man, thus avoiding the trap set for Him?
Luke 10:25, 26 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
“With breathless attention the large congregation awaited the answer. The priests and rabbis had thought to entangle Christ by having the lawyer ask this question. But the Saviour entered into no controversy. He required the answer from the questioner himself. ‘What is written in the law?’ He said; ‘how readest thou?’ The Jews still accused Jesus of lightly regarding the law given from Sinai; but He turned the question of salvation upon the keeping of God’s commandments.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 497.
Knowing and doing
2. Was this expert lacking in knowledge or obedience to the law? What counsel did Jesus give him after hearing his answer?
Luke 10:27, 28 And he answering said, 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 neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
“The lawyer was not satisfied with the position and works of the Pharisees. He had been studying the Scriptures with a desire to learn their real meaning. He had a vital interest in the matter, and had asked in sincerity, ‘What shall I do?’ In his answer as to the requirements of the law, he passed by all the mass of ceremonial and ritualistic precepts. For these he claimed no value, but presented the two great principles on which hang all the law and the prophets. This answer, being commended by Christ, placed the Saviour on vantage ground with the rabbis. They could not condemn Him for sanctioning that which had been advanced by an expositor of the law….
“Supreme love to God and impartial love to man are the principles to be wrought out in the life. The lawyer found himself a lawbreaker. He was convicted under Christ’s searching words. The righteousness of the law, which he claimed to understand, he had not practiced. He had not manifested love toward his fellow man.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 497, 498.
A hotly debated question
3. What other question did the man then ask, trying to justify his lack of love for certain people? What illustration did Jesus use to correct his opinion of and behavior toward his neighbor?
Luke 10:29, 30 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
“Among the Jews this question caused endless dispute. They had no doubt as to the heathen and the Samaritans; these were strangers and enemies. But where should the distinction be made among the people of their own nation, and among the different classes of society? Whom should the priest, the rabbi, the elder, regard as neighbor? They spent their lives in a round of ceremonies to make themselves pure. Contact with the ignorant and careless multitude, they taught, would cause defilement that would require wearisome effort to remove. Were they to regard the ‘unclean’ as neighbors?
“Again Jesus refused to be drawn into controversy. He did not denounce the bigotry of those who were watching to condemn Him. But by a simple story He held up before His hearers such a picture of the outflowing of heaven-born love as touched all hearts, and drew from the lawyer a confession of the truth.
“The way to dispel darkness is to admit light. The best way to deal with error is to present truth. It is the Revelation of God’s love that makes manifest the deformity and sin of the heart centered in self.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 498.
More than just seeing, being ready to help
4. What teaching was given in the law about such cases? Did the behavior of the priest and the temple assistant show that they understood the nature and purpose of their service?
Exodus 23:4, 5 If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again. If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him.
Luke 10:31, 32 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
“This was no imaginary scene, but an actual occurrence, which was known to be exactly as represented. The priest and the Levite who had passed by on the other side were in the company that listened to Christ’s words….
“These men were in sacred office, and professed to expound the Scriptures. They were of the class specially chosen to be representatives of God to the people….
“God in His providence had brought the priest and the Levite along the road where the wounded sufferer lay, that they might see his need of mercy and help. All heaven watched to see if the hearts of these men would be touched with pity for human woe. The Saviour was the One who had instructed the Hebrewss in the wilderness; from the pillar of cloud and of fire He had taught a very different lesson from that which the people were now receiving from their priests and teachers. The merciful provisions of the law extended even to the lower animals, which cannot express in words their want and suffering.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 499, 500.
5. What special attention did the despised Samaritan give the bandits’ unfortunate victim? Did the benefactor just provide comforting words, or did he willingly serve, giving his time, effort, and means?
Luke 10:33-35 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
“He did not question whether the stranger was a Jew or a Gentile. If a Jew, the Samaritan well knew that, were their condition reversed, the man would spit in his face, and pass him by with contempt. But he did not hesitate on account of this. He did not consider that he himself might be in danger of violence by tarrying in the place. It was enough that there was before him a human being in need and suffering. He took off his own garment with which to cover him. The oil and wine provided for his own journey he used to heal and refresh the wounded man. He lifted him on his own beast, and moved slowly along with even pace, so that the stranger might not be jarred, and made to suffer increased pain. He brought him to an inn, and cared for him through the night, watching him tenderly. In the morning, as the sick man had improved, the Samaritan ventured to go on his way. But before doing this, he placed him in the care of the innkeeper, paid the charges, and left a deposit for his benefit; and not satisfied even with this, he made provision for any further need….” –The Desire of Ages, p. 503.
Following a good example
6. How difficult is it to identify one’s neighbor after hearing the story of the good Samaritan? What may we learn from the man’s generous attitude in overlooking social prejudice?
Luke 10:36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
“Thus the question, ‘Who is my neighbor?’ is forever answered. Christ has shown that our neighbor does not mean merely one of the church or faith to which we belong. It has no reference to race, color, or class distinction. Our neighbor is every person who needs our help. Our neighbor is every soul who is wounded and bruised by the adversary. Our neighbor is everyone who is the property of God.
“In the story of the good Samaritan, Jesus gave a picture of Himself and His mission. Man had been deceived, bruised, robbed, and ruined by Satan, and left to perish; but the Saviour had compassion on our helpless condition. He left His glory, to come to our rescue. He found us ready to die, and He undertook our case. He healed our wounds. He covered us with His robe of righteousness. He opened to us a refuge of safety, and made complete provision for us at His own charges. He died to redeem us. Pointing to His own example, He says to His followers, ‘These things I command you, that ye love one another.’ ‘As I have loved you, that ye also love one another.’ John 15:17; 13:34.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 503, 504.
7. What did Jesus therefore repeat to the expert in the law? What special lesson are we urged to learn from the good Samaritan in this illustration?
Luke 10:28, last part Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
Luke 10:37 And he said, He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
“The Samaritan had obeyed the dictates of a kind and loving heart, and in this had proved himself a doer of the law. Christ bade the lawyer, ‘Go, and do thou likewise.’ Doing, and not saying merely, is expected of the children of God. ‘He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.’ 1 John 2:6.
“The lesson is no less needed in the world today than when it fell from the lips of Jesus. Selfishness and cold formality have well-nigh extinguished the fire of love, and dispelled the graces that should make fragrant the character. Many who profess His name have lost sight of the fact that Christians are to represent Christ. Unless there is practical self-sacrifice for the good of others, in the family circle, in the neighborhood, in the church, and wherever we may be, then whatever our profession, we are not Christians.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 504.
“If we are Christians, we shall not pass by on the other side, keeping as far as possible from the very ones who most need our help. When we see human beings in distress, whether through affliction or through sin, we shall never say, This does not concern me….
“By faith and prayer press back the power of the enemy. Speak words of faith and courage that will be as a healing balsam to the bruised and wounded one. Many, many, have fainted and become discouraged in the great struggle of life, when one word of kindly cheer would have strengthened them to overcome. Never should we pass by one suffering soul without see king to impart to him of the comfort wherewith we are comforted of God.
“All this is but a fulfillment of the principle of the law–the principle that is illustrated in the story of the good Samaritan, and made manifest in the life of Jesus. His character reveals the true significance of the law, and shows what is meant by loving our neighbor as ourselves. And when the children of God manifest mercy, kindness, and love toward all men, they also are witnessing to the character of the statutes of heaven.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 504, 505.