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Difficult to Sneak By

Illustrations are an effective way of teaching. They stick in the mind. They also make it difficult to sneak by or ignore a strong command.

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered: “‘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, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37)

The expert in the law asked two questions. Jesus asked three.

Expert:

1. “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
2. “Who is my neighbor?”

Jesus:

1. “What is written in the law?”
2. “How do you read it?”
3. “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert did not want an answer to either of his questions. He was testing Jesus. Jesus gave him two answers: “Do this and you will live,” and “Go and do likewise.” The truth of the command to love your neighbor was very clear before the illustration and could not be avoided after it.

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