Yesterday we read how the Pharisees tried to trick Jesus with a question. Jesus answers masterfully. He answers the question with a question, “What is written in the law?” that is “What does the Scripture tell you?” Jesus also asks, “What is your reading of it?” or “How do you understand it? What does it mean to you?”
In verse 27, we see the man respond with the only accurate answer he could give, the most basic commandments to love God and his neighbor. To this Jesus responds from today’s verse, “Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.” Verse 29 tells us the man wanted “to justify himself.” Jesus had not fallen into his trap. Not giving up the debate, he pressed further. Almost mockingly he asked “And who is my neighbor?”
Jesus tells the story (whether authentic or metaphorical we cannot be sure. Note the words “certain man”) of a man who “went down from Jerusalem to Jericho.” Many of the priests and religious workers lived in Jericho when they were not at their turn ministering in the temple.
There was about a 16-mile stretch of road that wound through rocky dangerous gorges where highwaymen, robbers and thieves easily prey upon lonely travelers. In ancient times it was known as “the pass of blood.” The priests were not bothered because of their status as holy men.
Perhaps this man was a wealthy Jewish merchant bringing his wares to the city. On this trip, “he fell among thieves.” I really like this story for we can even personalize it. Have you ever known someone who “fell into sin” or “fell into hard times?” There is an immediate opportunity for us to help them. What should we do?