Luke 10:25-28 - And behold, a lawyer stood up to put Him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How do you read it?" And he answered, "You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself." And He said to him, "You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live."
Did you ever ask a question so messed up it not only wasn't right, it wasn't even wrong? That's what I see happening with the lawyer who decided to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asks, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Listen to that again: "What shall I do?" Or maybe this is the emphasis: "What shall I do?" Either way, this guy's all about good deeds, all about what he can achieve. He's not looking at what God gives—grace—he's interested in what he brings to the table. He's so messed up he's not even wrong.
Jesus knows this. But He goes ahead and allows the man to follow the argument to its logical conclusion. "What do you read in the Law?" "Well," the man says, "there's this thing to do and that thing to do." And Jesus says, "Fine. Do it, and you will live."
But that's not the end of the conversation, for either the lawyer or Jesus. The lawyer, poor fool, is intent on justifying himself, but Jesus knows he can't! No human being is going to justify himself or herself by keeping the Commandments. Every one of us has broken them. Jesus says, "Do this, and you will live"—well, sure. But that's the trap, isn't it? None of us can "do this!"
But Jesus is gracious. He goes on to tell a story about a Jewish man (much like the lawyer) who gets mugged and left for dead on the side of the road. But who will help him, since he cannot help himself? Only one man: a gracious, merciful, loving man who binds up his wounds, puts him on his own donkey, carries him to safety, nurses him all night, and pays for his care.
Sound like anybody you know? Of course, it does. This man, this good Samaritan, sounds like Jesus. He sounds like the Son of God, the Savior of the world, who found each of us —robbed, wounded, and lying half-dead as a result of the work of the devil.
Jesus did not pass us by. Nor did He demand that we rescue ourselves, doing as many good deeds as we could until we, somehow, made up for our own sin and restored ourselves to spiritual health. No, Jesus picked us up, bandaged our wounds, saw to our care, and restored our health. And He even did better than that: He gave up His life so we could know the joyful life of people who belong to God. And when He rose from the dead, He offered us that same everlasting life as a pure and gracious gift of love, to everyone who trusts in Him.
"What must I do to be saved?" was the question. Jesus answers it with His deeds. He says, "This is what I did to save you."
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your free, gracious care for us who had no claim on You, and still You love us anyway. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. Can our occupational training impact the way we look at God?
2. How deep in our psyche does the desire to satisfy God's righteous demands go, do you think?
3. When the notion of "works righteousness" pops into your head, how do you combat it?
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