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? 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. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
I spoke on this passage recently in our local Christian school assembly. Usually we see this passage as the lead in to the parable of the Good Samaritan. (Which after the points made below, we did.) However, let us not miss something here which shows how our Lord Jesus was an expert in His use of the sword of God's word. It was said of Apollos that he was mighty in the scriptures, yet it is evident that he had some deficiencies, because Aquila and Priscilla when they heard him speak, took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. (Acts 18:25-26) Our Lord Jesus never suffered from such deficiencies. Even as a young boy in the temple, He questioned the Rabbinical doctors and all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. (Luke 2:47)
In the passage above, a certain lawyer came to tempt the Lord Jesus. The various commentators are divided on whether this man had an evil motive in mind. I think he had. If so, it is significant that, having come to attack, his supposed victim's (Christ's) use of the sword backed this lawyer into the place whereby he then sought to justify (i.e. defend) himself. How did Christ do this?
(1) The attacker based his question on the word of God. Eternal life is a spiritual matter. Christ merely took the sword out of the hand of the attacker and used it himself. Did not the lesser David behead Goliath in a similar manner?
(2) Having referred to the law of God, Christ pushed the issue further: How readest thou? Man seldom does well when he is brought to the mirror of God's law. Paul tells us his experience in the early part of Romans 7. Sin came (i.e. to light) and he died. Somewhat painfully, he discovered that he wasn't the great fellow he once thought he was i.e. alive without the sin once (Romans 7:7).
(3) The lawyer quoted the second part of the main summary of the law i.e. love God with all your heart etc., and your neighbour as yourself. This sounded good and so Christ pushed the boat out a little further - "This do and thou shalt live."
Oh dear, the attack against Christ wasn't going too well, was it? The attacker has got his answer, but still feels exposed. So willing to justify himself, he asks, "Who is my neighbour?" thus leading to the parable, as said.
It is good to be expert in the word of God. In this regard, our Saviour is the best example. I think Christ dealt somewhat differently with this man than He did with others. There is no indication that (say) Nicodemus came to tempt Christ. Although he too had to suffer a little rebuke ("Art thou a master of Israel and knowest not these things?") as did the Samaritan woman ("Ye worship ye know not what") yet they did not hang (as it were) on their own rope.
I do not believe that God calls us to be gunslingers, but he does call us to be discern when and if we are queried about the Scriptures. Here is an example of an attacker (assuming it is so) being driven back by his own weapons. It is significant that we go from this incident to the home of Mary and Martha. Perhaps (again) not the altogether serene place because of Martha's little tantrum, but (nevertheless) we come to the lovely person of Mary who sat at the Saviour's feet and drank in the word of God. My guess is that she too must have been mighty in the Scriptures.
Just a few thoughts along the road...
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