Luke 10:25-29 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, "What is written in the law? How do you read?" And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." And he said to him, "You have answered right; do this, and you will live." But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
Have you ever tried to put God to the test? I think we all do, And I think there is something we need to learn about why one should not do it. You see the chief thing is that when it comes to God, we can never have him in our debt, nor can we make a bargain that gives us more than he would have freely given us by grace through faith in Christ. We may well pray to God for gentle rains beginning at midnight and continuing until just before dawn, so that we bright sunny days all the time, but we always add, if it be your will. Why do we always add, when praying for physical things, if it be your will? Chiefly as a reminder that we are not lord, but that God is LORD, and that we may request, but we may not dictate, for if we dictate, we are not loving the Lord with all our heart and soul and strength. We donít need to add, if it be your will when we pray for spiritual blessings, such as the salvation of all mankind, for God has already revealed to us that such things are his will.
In our text, a lawyer sought to put Jesus to the test, and asked the question, What must I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus replied, what does the law say? To which he replied, the law says we must love God and love our neighbor. Jesus answered that that was correct, do it and live. And the lawyer, wishing to justify himself asked, and who is my neighbor? Which leads Jesus to tell the story of the good Samaritan, and to add at the end, Go and do likewise!
So, after the first question all he had to do, was to love God and to love his neighbor, but after the second question, now besides loving God and loving his neighbor, he is also to be a good Samaritan to those in need. Do you suppose he will ask a 3rd question? I donít think so, he already has more to do than he can possibly hope to get done.
And thatís the funny thing about this text, if you want to save yourself, if you want to justify your actions, there is a lot to do! However if you are willing to allow the grace of God to save you, there is nothing to do, God has done it all in Jesus Christ, the only thing for us is to get out of the way, God will do the rest, including making us a new creation. It is the new creation, made by God, working through Word and the Spirit, that by nature loves God and loves his neighbor. The new creation does not need to be told to be a good Samaritan, nor does he need to be told who his neighbor is Ė for the new creation knows that God wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth, the new creation knows that one is saved by grace through faith in Christ, and that good works add nothing and earn nothing with regard to our salvation. But the new creation wants to do all the things of the law, not to earn something, but in gratitude for all that God has done for us.
Thatís the funny thing about the text, for if you tell someone that what they must do, is to be a good Samaritan, the 1st thing that comes to mind is, Thatís a lot of Work! And it is, according to our old sinful nature, perhaps even more than we could hope to do Ė but that is why the scriptures calls us daily to remember our baptism, and to daily drown the old sinful nature and to daily rise to the new life which is ours in Christ. The Scriptures also tell us that it is harder to truly love God, than it is to love our neighbor. Which keeps leading us back to the answer, with man it is impossible, but by the grace of God we are a new creation, and it is possible so long as we continue in Christ.
Now although we say that if you are willing to be saved by grace through faith in Christ, there is nothing to do, except get out of the way, (stop being an obstacle) Ė that is not to say that when we are a new creation in Christ, that we wonít be doing a lot of things (more than we could ever imagine). The difference is that we wonít be doing them to save ourselves. The difference is that God will be blessing the work of our hands. The difference is that it wonít seem like work. The difference is that we wonít be doing them with heavy hearts wondering when we will ever get done, but rather with thankful hearts remembering all that God in Christ has done for us.