Faithlife Sermons

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December 14, 2014
*Intro* – Here is one of the most misinterpreted parables in the Bible – usually used to teach we should love everyone.
But not the main message here.
Its true intent is to show the absolute impossibility of us saving ourselves.
It’s God’s grace, not our merit that saves us.
Dumb and dumber are in a parking lot with a coat hanger.
Dumb says, “I can’t get this door unlocked.”
Dumber says, “You better hurry.
It’s about to rain and the top’s down!” That’s how dumb it is to try to earn salvation when grace already has the top down.
People in Jesus’ time thought obeying the law was their means of salvation.
When Jesus taught salvation by faith in Him, many thought He was destroying the law.
But Jesus Himself says in Mt 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
The Pharisees and religious elite had completely misinterpreted the purpose of the law.
They saw it as a means of salvation rather than as a tool to show the need for salvation.
They lived with the illusion they could keep the law as defined by them.
But, of course, everyone lived in a constant state of fear – have I been good enough?
Am I okay?
What more do I need to do?
Jesus uses a question from a lawyer to expose this dreadful denial of sinfulness.
He’s not a lawyer in our sense; he was an expert in the Mosaic Law and all the tradition that had built up around it.
He believed you get eternal life by keeping the law, and he believed he could do it.
He knows that Jesus has been teaching you can have eternal life now by repenting your sins and accepting Him.
He’s determined to show Jesus is violating the law.
Instead, the opposite happens.
Jesus shows that He takes the law far more seriously than the lawyer.
But He does this in an ingenious fashion.
As usual, He’s 3 steps ahead.
The key to interpreting and understanding this passage (and many others in the gospels, by the way) is to realize that Jesus is playing along with the lawyer’s assumption that you can be saved by keeping the law.
He is basically saying, “Okay, Mr. Lawyer, you want to be saved by keeping the law.
Let’s go down that road.
Let’s take it to its logical conclusion and see how’s that works for you?”
Not very well as it turns out.
This parable is given to illustrate what Paul wrote in Gal 3:10-11, “10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”
11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”
That’s what Jesus is teaching, trying to draw this man to faith by showing the perfection required to be saved by law.
What the Law Requires*
V. 25 “And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” “And behold” ties this event to the return of the 72.
This religion expert knows they’ve been out preaching that people should repent to enter the kingdom.
That message does not have nearly enough law for him and so he puts Jesus to the test.
Fatal mistake – matching wits with Jesus – assuming Jesus will disavow the law!
So, he baits his trap: “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
Great question.
I wish everyone were asking that question.
I hope you are asking it.
So many people go through life and never ask that question, but God has put you here this morning to face that question, perhaps for the 1st time.
It is the greatest question one can ever ask.
But notice how this man phrases it: “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
His question implies there is something he must do (once for all, aorist tense) to win God.
He is a lawyer; he knows the law.
But he’s totally misunderstood its meaning.
From his perspective it is saying, “Do this and do that and you will get on God’s good side.”
He really believes that is the way.
But his question is a setup.
He is expecting Jesus to say, “Do?! Why you must do nothing.
You must repent and believe in me.”
That’s what he expected and then he could have turned on Jesus and said, “See, folks.
He does not respect the law.
He has come to overturn the law.
He cannot be of God for He rejects God’s law.”
That’s what he expected.
But that’s not what he got.
Instead, he got a question.
V. 26 “He said to him, “What is written in the Law?
How do you read it?”
Jesus returns serve!
“You’re the lawyer.
What’s your take?”
Unexpectedly, the ball’s back in his court.
But he has a lifetime of preparation: v. 27, “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.”
That’s Moses’ summary of the law found in Deut 6:5.
That’s his answer.
To inherit eternal life one must love God and love one’s neighbor.
Loving God covers the first 4 commandments and love your neighbor covers the last 6.
Keep the law and you’re in.
That’s hi answer.
So Jesus stops him in his tracks and says, Believe in me, right?
No, Jesus agrees with him.
But remember, Jesus is accepting his premise.
If you want to be saved by the law, this guy has it right.
So, Jesus responds in v. 28, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
Jesus affirms his answer.
To be saved by the law, that is all you have to do (pres tense all the time – not one time – ALL the time).
Not do it once but love God and love your neighbor all the time, all your life!
Do this – not as a one-time thing, but as an all-the-time thing.
How Fully the Law Requires It*
Well, that was the last answer this guy expected.
Suddenly instead of Jesus looking foolish, it is the lawyer who has egg on his face.
Jesus has gotten him to answer his own question; He has affirmed the answer is correct and now the lawyer looks like an idiot for asking it in the first place.
So, v. 29, “But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “’And who is my neighbor?’”
To justify his first question, he now asks a second.
Jesus has said, “Do this, and you will live.”
So the lawyer says, “Okay, let’s talk about that.
Do this.
What exactly does “do this” mean?
Love your neighbor – so who is my neighbor.”
This is asked to introduce confusion.
When embarrassed, get into a theoretical discussion, right?
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