The special privileges of those who hear the
Let us observe, finally, the special privileges of those who hear the
Gospel of Christ. We read that our Lord said to his disciples, “Blessed
are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and
kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you
hear but did not hear it” (verses 23-24).
The full significance of these words will probably never be understood
by Christians until the last day. We probably understand only a tiny fraction
about the great advantages enjoyed by believers who have lived since Christ
came into the world, compared with those believers who died before Christ
was born. The difference between the knowledge of an Old Testament saint
and a saint in the days of the apostles is far greater than we can imagine.
Doubtless the Old Testament saints looked for a coming Saviour by faith
and believed in a resurrection and a life to come. But the coming and death
of Christ unlocked a hundred Scriptures which before were closed. In short,
“the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as
the first tabernacle was still standing” (Hebrews 9:8). The humblest Christian
believer understands things which David and Isaiah could never explain.
The expert in the law’s question to Christ; the rule of
the summary of duty (10:25-28)
1. The solemn question which our Lord was asked
We should notice in this passage the solemn question which was addressed
to our Lord Jesus Christ. We are told that an expert in the law asked Jesus,
“Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (verse 25). The
man’s motives were clearly not good. He stood up to test Jesus (verse
25). He wanted to provoke Jesus into saying something which his enemies
could latch onto and use against him. Yet this question was an important
It is a question which deserves everyone’s closest attention. We are
all sinners, dying sinners, sinners who are going to be judged after death.
How are our sins going to be pardoned? How can we come before God?
How can we escape damnation and hell? What must we do to be saved?
These questions are vital ones, and we should not rest until we find answers
2. The great honor our Lord gives to the Bible
We should notice, second, in this passage the great honor which our
Lord Jesus Christ gives to the Bible. He refers the expert in the
law immediately to the Scriptures as the only rule of faith and practice.
He does not say in answering his question, “What does the Jewish church
say about eternal life? What do the scribes and Pharisees and priests
think? What do the traditions of the elders say on this subject?”
He takes a far simpler and more direct course. He sends his questioner
at once to the writings of the Old Testament: “What is written in the
Law? How do you read it?” (verse 26).
We see in this verse one of the foundational principles of our Christianity.
Let the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible be the rule of
our faith and practice. It is of no consequence what human beings
say about religion, whether it is an ancient Father or a modern bishop
or a learned divine. Is it in the Bible? Can it be proved by the Bible?
If not, it is not to be believed. It does not matter how beautiful
and clever sermons and religious books may seem to be. Do they deviate
at all from Scripture? If they do, they are no good as guides. What
does the Scripture say? This is the only rule and yardstick to measure
religious truth. See Isaiah 8:20.
3. The Jews had a clear understanding about their duty to God and
We should notice, lastly, in this passage that the Jews had a clear
understanding about their duty to God and man in our Lord’s day.
We read that the expert in the law said, replying to our Lord’s question,
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your strength and with all your mind…Love your neighbor as
yourself’” (verse 27). That was well spoken. A clearer description
of daily practical duty could not have been given by the most thoroughly
instructed Christian today. This must not be forgotten.
The words of the expert in the law are very instructive in two ways.
First, they show the privileges of religious knowledge which the Jews enjoyed
under the Old Testament, compared to pagans. A nation which had such
principles about living was much more advanced than the Greeks or Romans.
Second, these words show that no matter how much head knowledge a person
may have, his heart can still be full of wickedness. Here is a man
who talks about loving God with all his soul and loving his neighbor as
himself while he is actually tempting Christ and trying to harm him.
Passages like this should teach us about our need for Christ’s righteousness.
We must go to him to seek grace so that love of God and man may be the
overriding principle in our lives, In Christ we must abide; then we will
not forget our desire to love him, which will then be shown to the world.
Notes on 10:25-28
26. “How do you read it?” Let the following quotation from Quesnel,
the Roman Catholic writer, be observed: “Jesus Christ himself refers us
to God’s law, though he was truth itself, and could give souls holy instruction.
In vain do we seek after other lights and ways besides those which we find
there. It is the Spirit of God who dictated the law and made it the rule
of our life. It is injurious to God for us either not to study it, or to
prefer the thoughts of man before it. The first question which will be
put to a Christian at God’s tribunal will be to this effect: ‘What is written
in the law? What have you read in the Gospel? What use have you made thereof?’
What answer can that person return who has not so much as read it, though
he has sufficient ability and opportunity to do it?”
The parable of the good Samaritan (10:29-37)
These words contain the well-known parable of the good Samaritan. To
understand the drift of this parable we must recall the occasion on which
it was delivered. It was spoken in reply to the question from an expert
in the law, “And who is my neighbor?” (verse 29). Our Lord Jesus
Christ answers that question by telling the parable of the good Samaritan
and concludes with an appeal to the conscience of the teacher of the law.
This must not be forgotten. The parable aims to show the nature of true
charity and brotherly love. To lose sight of this aim and claim profound
allegories in the parable is to trifle with Scripture and deprive our souls
of most valuable lessons.
1. Brotherly love is rare
We are taught, first, in this parable how rare true brotherly love is.
This is an obvious lesson from the parable. Our Lord speaks about
a traveler who fell into the hands of robbers and was left naked, beaten
up, and half dead on the road. Then a priest and Levite come along
and see the wounded man but give him no help. One after the other,
they “passed by on the other side” (verses 31-32).
2. Whom we are to show neighborly love to
We are taught, second, in this parable whom we should show kindness
to and whom we should love as neighbors. We are told that the only person
who helped the wounded traveler was a Samaritan. This man was from a nation
that Jews “do not associate with” (John 4:9). He might have excused himself
by saying that the road from Jerusalem to Jericho went through Jewish territory
and that Jews should care for any injured people. But he does nothing of
the sort. He sees a man stripped of his clothes and lying half dead. He
asks no questions but at once has compassion on him. He makes no problems
but at once gives aid. And our Lord says to us, “Go and do likewise”
Now, if these words mean anything, a Christian ought to be ready to
show kindness and brotherly love to everyone who is in need. Our
kindness must not merely extend to our families and friends and relatives.
We must love all people and be kind to everyone, whenever the opportunity
arises. We must beware of excessive strictness in scrutinizing the
past lives of those who need our help. Are they in real trouble?
Are they in real distress? Do they really want help? Then,
according to the teaching of this parable, we ought to be ready to help
them. We should think of the whole world as our parish, and all of
mankind as our neighbor. We should seek to be the friend of everyone
who is oppressed or neglected or afflicted or sick or in prison or poor
or an orphan or a pagan or a slave or mentally ill or starving or dying.
We should show such worldwide fellowship, doubtless wisely, so that we
should never need to be ashamed. The ungodly may sneer at this and
call it extravagant or fanatical. But we need not mind that.
To be friendly to everyone in this way is to show something of the mind
that was in Christ.
3. How to show kindness to others
We are taught, lastly, in this parable how and to what extent we are
to show love and kindness to others. We are told that the Samaritan’s compassion
toward the wounded traveler was not confined to feelings. He took great
pains to help him. He acted as well as felt. Stranger as the man was, he
went to him, bound up his wounds, set him on his own donkey, brought him
to an inn, and took care of him. That was not all. The next day he gave
the innkeeper money, saying, “Look after him, and when I return, I will
reimburse you for any extra expense you may have” (verse 35). And our
Lord says to each of us, “Go and do likewise” (verse 37).
The lesson of this part of the parable is unmistakable. The kindness
of a Christian toward others should not be in word only but in deed and
in truth. But how few Christians seem to remember that such a parable was
ever written. What an enormous amount of stinginess and meanness
and suspicion there is in the church, and this even among people who say
the Creed and go to the Lord’s Table. How seldom we see a person
who is really kind and generous and good-natured except toward himself
and his neighbors. Yet the Lord Jesus Christ told this parable of
the good Samaritan and meant it to be remembered.
Notes on 10:29-37
29. He wanted to justify himself. This detail reveals the
true character of the teacher of the law. He was a self-righteous
man and flattered himself that he could earn the eternal life he had inquired
about by his own efforts.
30. “From Jerusalem to Jericho.” The road between these
two places passed through a wild and rocky country and was notorious for
being infested by robbers. On this account, Jerome says, it was called,
“the bloody way.”
31. “A priest.” Jericho was a city specially appointed for the
residence of priests and Levites. No less than 12,000 of them, according
to Lightfoot, lived there. They had to attend the temple in Jerusalem
on monthly rotations.