Today we read Jesus talking with an expert of the law. While Jesus talks with him, he shares a story. These stories are called parables, and Jesus uses them to teach us important lessons. This is a well known parable of the Good Samaritan, but after reading and learning about the heart of the law this Lenten season, it shines a different light. The expert of the law thinks he already knows the law, and wants to justify himself, but Jesus shows that he doesn’t know the heart of the law.
In the parable, the two people who do not help the poor beaten up man are very similar to the expert of the law. They are the priest and Levite, and just like the expert, they know the law very well. They know what is clean and unclean, how to live correctly and incorrectly, and all the details of the rules. However, when it comes to saving a person’s life, does the law help them? Actually, it hinders them! If the priest and the Levite touched unclean blood or even worse, a dead corpse, it will make themselves unclean! Then they won’t be able to their priestly or Levite duties! They are using the law in the wrong way.
No wonder Jesus is so frustrated and angry at the Pharisees who twists God’s good law! Even before this expert can go to his enemies, he must relearn what the law is about. The law was given to love and save, and it reminds us of what we read back in Day 23 about the Sabbath. Jesus is asking the same question: what is lawful- to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?
This parable is a great story that animates what Jesus have preached before about loving our neighbors in the Sermon on the Mount:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)