But he, willing to justify himself, said to Jesus, And who is my neighbor?…
I. Earliest of all, there is indicated here that THE RECOGNIZED AIM OF THE ENTIRE GOSPEL IS SIMPLY TO SAVE HUMAN SOULS (see verse 25).
II. From the reply our Lord gave to him we learn, next, that THE GRAND SOURCE OF ALL INFORMATION ON THIS SUBJECT IS GOD'S WORD, REVEALED IN THE INSPIRED SCRIPTURES (see verses 26-28).
III. Hence, we reach another lesson: THE MAIN OFFICE OF THE LAW OF GOD THUS REVEALED IS TO CONVINCE MEN OF SIN (see verse 29). Evidently this man was not at all satisfied. There was just one subtle implication in this courteous commendation of Jesus that stung his conscience. He knew he had never obeyed the command he had quoted.
IV. Our Lord follows his extraordinary lead, and so we have another lesson: THE LAW OF GOD ACCEPTS EVEN HUMANITARIANISM AS ONE OF THE TRUTHFUL TESTS OF A REAL RELIGIOUS CHARACTER.
1. In the beginning of the parable, Jesus shows what constitutes a neighbour, meeting the lawyer's interrogatory in its exact terms: "And who is my neighbour?" (see verse 30).
2. A neighbour, so the story went calmly on to say, is one who is close to us in circumstances of common exposure. All these people were in the perilous and infested road between Jerusalem and Jericho.
3. A neighbour is one who has received misfortune which might happen to any one of us in the same circumstances. Robbers are never specially particular concerning what respectable people they plunder.
4. A neighbour is one who is left near us helpless, and must suffer more unless succoured at once. The force of the figure turns on that. Thus, having explained what it was to be a neighbour, Jesus proceeded to show further by the parable what it must mean to love one's neighbour as one's self (see verses 31-35).
(1) A priest (see verse 31). Perhaps he was one of these refined, fastidious men, full of soft sensibility, and could not force his delicate feelings to bear the sight of abject suffering, especially when no one was near to sustain and praise him. Possibly he could pity the wounded neighbour, but could not afford just then either the time or the twopence. It may be, housed in his comfortable quarters that night in Jericho, he took it out in blaming the Government for the tolerance.
(2) A Levite (see verse 32). No better than the other: no reason to suppose he would be: a Levite was just a little priest: "like master, like man." Still. it is fair to say he went across to see what was the matter. Perhaps he found there was too much the matter. Perhaps prudence suggested the robbers might return. Now please remember these were the friends this lawyer would have stood up for; a sacred calling certainly involves sacred duties.
(3) A Samaritan (see verses 33-35). He had love in his heart and succour in his hands.
V. So ends the parable; and now, as we return to the story for our final lesson, we learn that MERE FORMAL DEVOTION CANNOT EVEN ABIDE ITS OWN TEST, WHEN FORCED TO IT (see verses 36, 37).
(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?