How Not to Inherit Eternal Life

This is the third in an on-going summer sermon series on the Lukan texts; read the introduction here.

Lectionary Text for July 11: Luke 10:25-37

“How Not to Inherit Eternal Life”

  • Be preoccupied with “will this be on the test?” (lawyer’s question: What must I do to inherit eternal life?)
  • Focus on rules not relationship
  • Walk by the neighbor in need
  • Stay in the ditch when a neighbor offers to help you


“How to Inherit Eternal Life”

  • Focus on relationships
  • Stop
  • Let somebody help you up

A man was once on a train going through the Alps for the first time. He sat staring out the window, transfixed by the glorious, white- peaked mountain view. He noticed a man sitting near him reading a detective novel. “How can you read with this view out the window?”  “I’ve taken this trip so often I have seen it all many times before.” Many people feel this way about the parable of the Good Samaritan. We think we already know all there is to know about it. This is how we think it goes: a lawyer comes to Jesus trying to trip him up with questions about eternal life and who is my neighbor. Jesus then tells a story that has a Samaritan as the hero, which would have shocked Jews who, at that time, hated Samaritans. The realistic part of the parable is that a person on a journey gets beat up and, subsequently, other people walk by without helping. The strange part is who sees and walks by and who sees and stops to help. Jesus’ listeners would expect the Jewish religious leaders to see, stop and help. They would not expect this of a Samaritan.

We are quite familiar with the traditional boiling down of the parable’s message to an example story. Don’t be like this. Be like this. “Don’t be self-righteous; assuming God can’t work through people you look down on. And be like the Samaritan, helping those you meet each day who need your help.

There is some truth there. But the familiar interpretation doesn’t squeeze all the blood still left in this turnip. So let’s pose the question to the parable: What is the kingdom of God like? And let’s try on my answer, “It shows up where you least expect it.” And let’s see if any new details in the landscape appear. The context of the parable is a question to Jesus from a student of Torah (a lawyer) in Luke 10:25-28. Many readers assume the lawyer doesn’t really want the answer but is somehow trying to test Jesus. They lump him together with the self-righteous people to whom Jesus tells the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:9. Or they group him with the spies who try to trap Jesus in the question about the lawfulness of paying taxes to Caesar in Luke 20:20-26.[1] But what if the Torah student here in Luke 10 actually wants to know the answer to the question “What must I do to inherit eternal life? Or what if he wants to hear what he knows is the answer from the Torah confirmed on the lips of one he has chosen to be his teacher? Jesus asks his question back to him, assuming that, as a student of Torah, he should already know the answer. The lawyer answers with the command to love God and neighbor from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. Jesus affirms his answer and tells him that if he does this he will live.

Then the lawyer asks a follow-up question, the text says, “because he wanted to justify himself.” “Justify” is not a word we use that much these days. If one wants to “justify themselves”, they want to be perceived as good and just, to be viewed as guiltless and righteous, to be approved and accepted. The lawyer wanted Jesus’ acceptance and approval. He wanted to stand out from the crowd in Jesus’ estimation. I have found over the years that students will go to great lengths to gain the teacher’s approval. Any teacher will tell you, though, that the best way a student can impress a teacher is by doing the readings, knowing the material, and being able to talk about its practical impact on daily life. Students still sometimes resort to other means. They may bring the teacher food items that she has mentioned in passing are her favorites. I hasten to say that, while I enjoyed the apple fritters and the peanut m and m’s, I have never requested such items or so much as implied that placing them in my campus mailbox would improve a student’s grade! Sometimes students ask if they can do extra credit work if their last assignment received a poor grade. They may come to class early to help set up chairs. If they come in late while the class is discussing this week’s readings, they may immediately jump in and try to contribute to the conversation, never mind that they haven’t done the readings.

One other way students try to gain a teacher’s approval is by asking what they regard as nuanced, subtle questions in class which, they hope, will reveal their intellectual depth. I wonder why the lawyer felt a need to justify himself to Jesus.  And I wonder what answer he was hoping for to his question “Who is my neighbor?” A list of categories of people he needed to try to love as he loved himself, the shorter the better?  Is the lawyer a human being like the rest of us who knows what the syllabus requires, but  might not mind doing the minimum required to pass the course?

"Completely off topic. Please go back to Breitbart or wherever you expound your "wisdom". The ..."

A Lenten Sacrifice: The Attempted Crucifixion ..."
"Nazism is abhorrent, no matter whose money you're spending."

A Lenten Sacrifice: The Attempted Crucifixion ..."
"Socialism is great until you run out of other people's money."

A Lenten Sacrifice: The Attempted Crucifixion ..."
"I am not a parent, but I would consider it a duty to have a ..."

Grey’s Anatomy, “The Talk,” And A ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • I’ve said that least 4417856 times. The problem this like that is they are just too compilcated for the average bird, if you know what I mean

  • Why didnt I think about this? I hear exactly what youre saying and Im so happy that I came across your blog. You really know what youre talking about, and you made me feel like I should learn more about this. Thanks for this; Im officially a huge fan of your blog

  • very good post, i certainly love this website, keep on it

  • It’s hard to find knowledgeable people on this topic, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

  • Thanks for the great info.

  • Thanks for the great info.

  • I really like that. You touched my heart!

  • very nice post, i certainly love this website, keep on it

  • Your place is valueble for me. Thanks!…

  • This really answered my problem, thank you!

  • This was a great post, thanks for the info.

  • I saw this really great post today.

  • I’ve learned newer and more effective things by means of your blog site. One other thing I would really like to say is the fact newer laptop operating systems are inclined to allow much more memory to be utilized, but they as well demand more ram simply to perform. If someone’s computer can’t handle additional memory and also the newest software requires that memory space increase, it can be the time to buy a new Computer system. Thanks

  • Your site is too cool admin!

  • I can see that you’re a specialist at the field! I am launching an internet site soon, and your info will be very helpful for me personally.. Many thanks for all you help and wanting all of you the actual achievement inside your company.

  • I recently came across your article and have been reading along. I want to express my admiration of your writing skill and ability to make readers read from the beginning to the end. I would like to read newer posts and to share my thoughts with you.

  • amazing stuff thanx

  • More people need to read this and understand this aspect of the story. I cant believe you’re not more popular.

  • Witty! I’m bookmarking you site for future use.

  • Simply want to say your article is as astonishing. The clarity in your post is just nice and i can assume you are an expert on this subject. Well with your permission allow me to grab your RSS feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please continue the enjoyable work.

  • Awesome job on this post.

  • My brother suggested I might like this website. He was entirely right. This post actually made my day. You cann’t imagine simply how much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

  • my God, i thought you were going to chip in with some decisive insght at the end there, not leave it with ‘we leave it to you to decide’.

  • Someone essentially help to make seriously posts I would state. This is the first time I frequented your web page and thus far? I amazed with the research you made to create this particular publish incredible. Magnificent job!

  • Would you be interested in exchanging hyperlinks?

  • Thanks for writing this. I really feel as though I know so much more about this than I did before. Your blog really brought some things to light that I never would have thought about before reading it. You should continue this, Im sure most people would agree youve got a gift.

  • Hey there would you mind stating which blog platform you’re working with? I’m looking to start my own blog soon but I’m having a hard time choosing between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design and style seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something completely unique. P.S Apologies for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

  • More people need to read this and understand this aspect of the story. I cant believe you’re not more popular.

  • Thanks for helping out, great information.

  • I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! keep up the good work.

  • I consider, that you commit an error. Write to me in PM.

  • I saw this really good post today.

  • You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. I cant believe youre not more popular because you definitely have the gift.

  • I really relate to that post. Thanks for the info.

  • There’s a bundle to find out about this. You made good points also.

  • Great to be visiting your weblog again. Thanks for posting this informative post. Peace.

  • This actually answered the problem, thank you!

  • You should take part in a contest for one of the best blogs on the web. I will recommend this web site!

  • When I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new feedback are added- checkbox and now each time a remark is added I get 4 emails with the identical comment. Is there any method you may remove me from that service? Thanks!

  • Once I initially commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get 4 emails with the identical comment. Is there any means you may remove me from that service? Thanks!

  • Thanks for spending the time to debate this, I really feel strongly about it and love reading more on this topic. If attainable, as you grow to be an expert, would you mind updating your weblog with more details?

  • Wow, I enjoyed your neat post.

  • There may be a bundle to know about this. You made good points also.

  • My husband and i felt very glad that Emmanuel managed to finish off his investigation through the precious recommendations he made through the weblog. It is now and again perplexing to just choose to be handing out instructions that many some people could have been trying to sell. And now we fully grasp we’ve got the blog owner to give thanks to for this. All of the illustrations you made, the simple site menu, the friendships your site make it possible to promote – it is many extraordinary, and it’s really helping our son and our family understand this subject matter is amusing, which is incredibly vital. Many thanks for all!

  • Wonderful posting. I got checking out consistently this web site and that i am impressed! Very helpful info particularly the past portion We maintain such info quite a lot. I was ready for this selected information with regard to a long time. Thanks and also best of luck.

  • Can we get back on topic please. Everything seems to have gotten off the subject. Some of these comments are unbelievable.

  • Hello.This informative article was extremely motivating, especially since I wanted what it really this condition last Wednesday??.

  • Great post, I conceive web site owners ought to larn a whole lot from this web site its really user friendly .

  • Basically a smiling visitor here to share the really like (:, btw fantastic pattern .

  • Hello there, You’ve done a fantastic job. I will definitely digg it and personally recommend to my friends. I am sure they will be benefited from this web site.

  • Excellent post I must say.. Simple but yet interesting and engaging.. Keep up the awesome work!

  • Helpful info discussed I am really pleased to read this particular post..many thanks with regard to providing all of us nice information.Great walk-through. I truly appreciate this article.

  • come to look at it – LDL is nothing but undesirable fats that’s certainly not very good to the body.

  • Random Google results can lead to excellent blogs such as this. You are performing a good job, and we share a lot of opinions.

  • Excellent phrase and it is duly

  • Where to find website traffic, especially completely free website traffic, is actually a million dollar question to every marketer and affiliate business owner. In fact, regardless how fantastic your services or products that you provide in your webpage are, they have no clients if no one arrives to your online site. That is why site traffic is very very important for your online business.

  • Fed up with all the “pie in the sky”, forex Maverick finally reveals… 00:00. If you’ve got 15 minutes each day, you can plug into the Forex Cash Detective system

  • fantastic points altogether, you simply received a logo new reader. What might you recommend about your publish that you simply made a few days in the past? Any sure?

  • I wish to express my thanks to this writer just for rescuing me from this type of problem. Just after looking through the internet and obtaining basics which were not productive, I thought my entire life was over. Being alive minus the strategies to the difficulties you have fixed all through your write-up is a critical case, and those that might have adversely damaged my career if I had not noticed your blog post. Your personal talents and kindness in taking care of all the pieces was precious. I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t encountered such a solution like this. It’s possible to at this point relish my future. Thanks so much for your specialized and amazing help. I won’t hesitate to refer your blog post to anyone who desires guidelines on this situation.

  • This is my Excerpt

  • I am glad that I have observed this blog. Ultimately anything not a crap, which we understand quite usually. The web site is lovingly maintained and up to date. So it really should be, thank you for this welcome transform.

  • I found your weblog website on google and check a few of your early posts. Continue to maintain up the very good operate. I just additional up your RSS feed to my MSN News Reader. In search of ahead to studying extra from you afterward!…

  • Well I truly enjoyed studying it. This post provided by you is very helpful for good planning.

  • Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it. Look advanced to far added agreeable from you! However, how could we communicate?

  • I discovered your blog web site on google and verify just a few of your early posts. Continue to maintain up the superb operate. I simply additional up your RSS feed to my MSN News Reader. Seeking forward to studying more from you in a while!…

  • hi this post support me full . .in the event you want watches men check out my sites is very help you for males watches. .thank man good job.

  • Super-Duper site! I am loving it!! Will be back later to read some more. I am bookmarking your feeds also

  • And it can be paraphrased?

  • I enjoy you because of each of your effort on this blog. Betty takes pleasure in managing investigation and it’s really simple to grasp why. A number of us notice all concerning the dynamic form you convey effective tips through your web site and as well improve participation from people on that concept plus our own princess is studying a lot. Enjoy the remaining portion of the year. You have been performing a tremendous job.

  • I recently came across your article and have been reading along. I want to express my admiration of your writing skill and ability to make readers read from the beginning to the end. I would like to read newer posts and to share my thoughts with you.

  • This was inspiring.

  • Awesome blog you might have here but I was wondering if you knew of any forums that cover exactly the same topics talked about here? I’d really like to be a part of group exactly where I can get suggestions from other experienced men and women that share exactly the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Bless you!

  • You really are a really persuasive article writer. I can easily see this inside your article. A person possess a way of writing persuasive details which initiates significantly interest.

  • Exceptionally helpful tips you have there. glad I found it

  • Hey, I have considered getting the program DubTurbo Beatmaker and was hoping someone could give me an actual bona fide critique of the computer software. Almost all the web pages that provide you with critiques at the moment are online marketers offering the software therefore i question that the experiences are valid. Thanks in advance for just about any information any individual can offer.

  • Thanks , I’ve recently been looking for information approximately this subject for ages and yours is the best I’ve found out till now. But, what in regards to the bottom line? Are you sure about the supply?