And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25 NASB)
Last week, I decided to work ahead and complete my translation of this parable. Unbeknownst to me (but knownst to God), I would need that last Sunday. It worked out that I was asked to give a “devotional” in the Sunday service while the song before was playing. Since this was fresh in my mind, I chose this. But the divine element was that this parable dovetailed precisely with the sermon. The person who was scheduled had a “fatherly” devotion planned, and my next scheduled speaking was on Father’s Day.
Yes, sure, all random chance, kind of like the universe, completely without orchestration or direction. How do we “swim” in the pool of divine direction and intent? Do we go with the current or fight against it, strive for the side, or even stay out of it all together? As seventy “missionaries” return and they celebrate, up jumps a lawyer. What timing! Jesus has just praised God for revealing His purpose to the infants rather than the wise and intelligent. How could this guy remain in his seat? The infant believing he’s wise and intelligent could not remain silent.
As this lawyer stood to fight against the tide of Jesus’ ministry and direction, he stood as one of the wise and intelligent. In representation of their group, he stands to “test” Jesus. The word used combines “from out of” and “to test for quality or response”. In other words, the Lawyer wanted to know what Jesus would do when asked a “hard” question. Ironically, the group who just returned, had returned from healing and casting out demons, and so on. Having returned from this dramatic demonstration of the power of God, Jesus says He saw the devil fall from heaven. What a great time to ask a question about commandments!
This is one of those encounters where you have to wonder if the guy was even paying attention. It’s a great example of what Jesus says in praise, that the Father revealed these things to the infants and not the wise and intelligent! He didn’t get it. He’s clueless about what’s going on, and focus’ only on his agenda: test Jesus to see what He will do. “Yeah, yeah, I know all those miracles happened, and preaching and stuff, but I have a question about the law.” Okay, thanks for playing.
In his wisdom and intelligence though, the lawyer provides an excellent opportunity for one of the parables of Jesus most quoted and misunderstood by masses of the unfaithful. Anyone with a motorhome or camp trailer knows of the “Good Sam Club”. Where did the name come from? This parable. Does the club have anything to do with the parable? No, not really. In 1966, several RV people banded together in a promise to help each other along the road (i.e. be a good Samaritan).
So, once again, a lawyer stood to speak. I wonder if people groaned when he did. “Great, not this guy again.” I wonder if people looked on in interest wondering what would happen as well. “This should be good.” I wonder if people even noticed. The thing is, this guy stands in the midst of a celebration and seeks to take the crowd and celebration in another direction. I don’t know if he really expected Jesus to “fail” the test, the word used doesn’t suggest either way. All I know is that his question has little or nothing to do with what’s going on, except as an example of Jesus’ claim his group missed the revelation.
So, what do I learn? Well, first off, I learn to remain on a lookout for what Jesus is doing around me. And along with that, I learn to jettison my agenda if it doesn’t seem to fit what I see my Master doing around me. Regardless of whether Jesus was able to use this errant lawyer or not, he didn’t end up as an example of obedience to Jesus. I would rather be one of faceless, nameless examples of faithful followers of Jesus. It would be better to be one of the unnamed 120 in the upper room with the disciples than the named or mentioned opposition to Him. It’s not that my name is written in Scripture, but that my name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. That’s where I want to be mentioned.
So what do you see when the lawyer stands up to test Jesus?