Luke 10:25 37

It was meant to be a trick question. The man with the question was a lawyer professionally trained in the Old
Testament law. He asked, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" He was not really concerned about this
issue, for he felt that he had eternal life settled. He hoped Jesus would answer this question in some way that
would prove to be an embarrassment to Him.

The response of Jesus led to this great discussion on love without limits. As a response to another question
raised by the lawyer, Jesus gave the parable of the Good Samaritan. Let us look carefully at this passage to see
what we can learn about love without limits.

Jesus responded to the question of the lawyer with a question. Jesus was a master at asking just the right
question. Since the man was a great student of the law, Jesus asked, "What is written in the law? How readest
thou?" It was a question about what the man understood the law of God to teach on this subject. The lawyer had
not anticipated such a response. However, he had an answer as would have had almost any person in the crowd.
Everyone knew the words of the Shema which were quoted each Sabbath in the synagogues

A.        Required by the law.
The lawyer quoted those familiar words from Deuteronomy, "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 then he added the words from Leviticus,
"And thy neighbor as thyself." In both cases it is a call for love without limits

The law requires that our love for God be without limits. The fourŽfold description added to the call for love
indicates this. While the original text did not include the "all of thy mind", mind was considered Žto be a part of the
heart. To paraphrase the commandment, it simply says, "You must love God with all of your being without any
limits." God is to be supreme in your devotion in every way.

B.        Required by the Lord.
Jesus commended the answer of the lawyer. "And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou
shalt live." Jesus acknowledged the rightness of the Word of the Lord through Moses and commended it to the
lawyer as being the proper way to live his life  a life lived by this Royal Rule would surely lead to eternal life.

This still stands. if you want to earn eternal life on the basis of your works, this is all that is required. You must
love God perfectly and continuously and supremely for all of your days. You must love your neighbor as you love
yourself perfectly and continuously. To fail to so love God in one instance would forfeit the inheritance.

It is of special interest and significance that these two commandments are put together. They express the whole
of God's requirement for us. He requires love without limits.

The reaction of the lawyer to the admonition of Jesus was immediate. According to Luke he felt the need to justify
himself. This may be a sign that he was embarrassed by the situation in which he found himself. It probably
means that he felt condemned by what Jesus had said and was looking for a way to make it more bearable. In his
deepest self awareness, he knew that he had not met this divine requirement fully. No thinking person would ever
claim to have had love for God and their fellowman without limits.

A.        The question.
The lawyer asked, "And who is my neighbor?" What are the implications of this word about loving your neighbor?
Who am I obligated to love? Most of the people of Israel had reached a conclusion about this question. They
understood it to mean that they were to love the people of Israel, their brothers in the family of Israel. However,
the Pharisees had drawn the circle even closer than this. They had said that they were obligated only to love
those who were Pharisees, those who shared their dedication to God. They were under no obligation to love
those who did not walk in their ways. The man wanted to know if he might be free to exclude otters from this
obligation and still find eternal life.

The question of the lawyer is still with us. Every generation seems to find another group that they want to exclude
from their circle of love. They do not want to make their love without limits. Who are you inclined to exclude?

B.        The example.
This prompted our Lord to give the parable of the Good Samaritan. The characters have become familiar to all.
Our Lord conŽfronts us with an example of someone who puts limits on their love. The poor victim who went down
from Jerusalem to Jericho is simply called "a man" in the text. We are probably to understand that he was a
Jewish man. That happened to him was not uncommon on this road that ran through the rough terrain on that
twenty mile journey. He was overcome by tre thieves, was stripped of everything, even his clothing, was severely
beaten, and left lying in the ditch half dead.

The priest who came by had been to Jerusalem. He was probably a resident of Jericho who had been to
Jerusalem to serve in the temple. When he saw the victim, "he passed by on tie other side." There may have
been several things that prompted him to ignore the plight of the poor victim. Since the man was "half dead", he
may have been afraid of ceremonial defilement. If you touched a dead body, you were ceremonially unclean. He
may have thought that what he had done in the temple was sufficient. Some say he had failed to associate what
had happened in the temple with any obligaŽtion to offer love without limits to his fellowman. Whatever the
reason, he put limits on his love that day.

The point being made by our Lord is that these two obviously were not going to inherit eternal life. In spite of their
heavy investment into religion, they were limiting their love for their neighbor. They had religion but they did not
have eternal life.

Jesus introduced a despised Samaritan into the story. "But a certain Samaritan as he journeyed, came where he
was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil
and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow
when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and
whatsoŽever thou spendest more, when I come again I will repay thee." This character demonstrated love without
A. It is love for the unknown.
The Samaritan did not know the man in the ditch, but he knew that A was a fellow man being in need. If we
express love only to those we know, we have put limits upon our love.

B. It is love for the unfriendly.
Because of the location, the Samaritan would feel fairly confident that he was ministering to a Jew, The
relationships between Jews and Samaritans were bitter. There was a long history to the religious and political
barriers that separated the two peoples. The Jews looked upon the Samaritans as half breeds. The Samaritans
were not a part of the temple worship in Jerusalem but rather maintained their own religious order. In ordinary
circumstances these two men would have been expected to be on unfriendly terms, but the Samaritan did all that
he could to help.

C.        Is love for the unprofitable.
What the Samaritan did was costly in time, money, and effort. He made quite an investment of time. He also made
an investment of energy when he walked to the inn while the victim rode on his donkey. He made an investment of
money. He paid for at least two weeks of lodging for the man and promised to pay the full bill when he returned.
There was absolutely no hope of any return financially. He did what he did simply because he cared for the man.
He expected no return.

This gives us an indication of the nature of this love without limits. It has no limits on what it will do and has no
limits on to whom it will minister. It is truly love without limits. How much love do you have? Do you have just
enough for your friends? Does it have a fifty dollar limit on it? Does it exclude certain people? Is the exclusion
based on their race, religion, or social standing?

The lawyer was ready to admit that it was the Samaritan who had demonstrated the right kind of love. Jesus then
said to him, "Go thou and do likewise." Follow the example of the Samaritan in practicing in a practical way  love
without limits.

This was not much comfort to the lawyer. He knew that; he had not, nor could he expect to ever demonstrate such
love. If this was what was required he had no hope of ever knowing eternal life. This is where the Gospel of Jesus
Christ sounds so beautiful. First, it gives eternal life as a gift to those who will repent of their sins, place their faith
in Jesus Christ, and make him the Lord of their lives. Then once they have received His life by His indwelling life
and love, He enables them to begin to do what the law requires. He begins to impart to them a love for their
fellowman that is without limits.

If you desire to be such a person of love, open your heart wide to the Lord of love. He is the ultimate Good
Samaritan and is able to enable us to live such a life of love without limits.