Who Is The Good Samaritan?

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JobK's picture

Which really pains me for a bunch of reasons that I will not get into.

But we have to remember that Jesus Christ addressed two groups in His teachings: the world and the church. Example: the famous exhortations of Jesus Christ to "judge not" and to "take the beam out of your own eye before taking the mote out of someone else's" ... those were given to the world, because people in their fallen condition are unqualified to sit in spiritual judgment over anyone. But in other teachings of Jesus Christ (as well as in several epistles) it is clear that Christ did give the church not only the authority but the responsibility and imperative to render judgment on spiritual matters in His Name using the power of the Holy Spirit that indwells the church.

Take, for instance, the Sermon on the Mount. Even though that sermon was preached openly, to claim that its target audience was sinners is ridiculous. Paul's writings make it clear that for the unregenerate to try to keep the teachings of the sermon on the mount would be utterly counterproductive (to be kind). The same with Jesus Christ's high priestly prayer and final instructions to the church (through His apostles): it is so evident that those were addressed to the church that Christ waited until Judas Iscariot had departed before delivering them!

So even though Jesus Christ answered this question in response to being tempted by the teacher of the law, it is notable that Jesus Christ did not respond to him by telling the man to give up the world and follow Him (His instructions to the rich young ruler, and is the way of salvation). Instead, Jesus Christ responded to this lawyer's request for an exposition of the second half of the summary of the great commission. Christ asked the lawyer what the law says, and the lawyer stated "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." Jesus Christ replied "Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live."

Now consider the rich young ruler. He proclaimed his unregenerate state by claiming to have perfectly kept the law from his youth, which was a lie. Jesus Christ proved that the rich young ruler was lying by exposing the unwillingness of the rich young ruler to give up his wealth at the command of someone that the rich young ruler himself acknowledged to be an authority on religious matters, which thereby demonstrated that the rich young ruler did not love God with all his heart, soul and strength. After being exposed publicly and convicted within his heart (as scripture notes that the ruler went away sorrowfully), the rich young ruler did not repent and ask how to be saved, but instead went away, choosing to remain in sin. 

But the lawyer in this instance DID NOT do this. Instead of making a lying boast proclaiming that he was keeping the law fully already, the lawyer asked Jesus Christ what the second part of the law meant in order to make sure that he was keeping it. So even if the question itself might have had insincere motives, it was a legitimate question (unlike the rich young ruler's claim of having perfectly kept the law, which was illegitimate in and of itself). So Jesus Christ responded to the lawyer in kind. His response was not what a sinner would do to achieve salvation. (Even Christ's most difficult parables were not that elliptical, as it contained no references to repent, believe and/or follow, as Christ's other salvation parables and teachings did.) Instead, Christ's response was how a believer would love His neighbor. So, it should be viewed in the same vein as Christ's teachings to believers in the Sermon on the Mount, Christ's teachings to believers on how we are to pray, Christ's teachings to believers on giving, etc. 

And go back to Christ's message to the church at the last supper. While Christ did say that He fulfilled the law, Christ also stated that loving Him meant keeping His commandments. Loving our neighbor is most certainly a commandment of Christ. The good samaritan story is an illustration of how to love Christ by keeping this commandment in a sincere spiritual fashion, and not merely out of religious piety, tradition, social custom or any other work of the flesh. Christ's point in bringing up the two religious leaders was to point out that fulfillment of religious duties, while commanded by God and necessary and proper, fall short of fulfilling the law. His teaching illustrated that the practices of the religious authorities of His day failed to show love for one's neighbor. In light of that failure, keep in mind Christ's teaching that if love for one's fellow man that he sees daily is lacking, then one also does not possess the love of God who is unseen. So it can be said (after several interpretations) that the lawyer asked Christ how to get to heaven, Christ responded "keep my commandments" to which the lawyer did ask "tell me what your commandments mean so that I can keep them and go to heaven." Keeping Christ's commandments is either sanctification or worship (depending on your view of sanctification) or you can say that it is the result of sanctification. 

So as much as it pains me to take the Patheos position, the Good Samaritan was a sanctification teaching to the church, not an evangelistic message to the world. 

Solo Christo, Soli Deo Gloria, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Scriptura
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