Thursday, January 22, 2015

Luke 10: Passive Questions and Active Questions in the story of the Good Samaritan

Jacopo Bassano, The Good Samaritan, via Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

In Luke 10, we read the story of the Good Samaritan. And though I've heard this story over and over again in my life, this last time I went through it, I noticed something new.

I noticed that the question the lawyer asks Jesus ("Who is my neighbor?") is not quite the same question that Jesus asks back at the end of the parable ("Who was a neighbor?", or, "which of these . . . proved to be a neighbor . . .?")

The Lawyer's Question
The lawyer asks a question that requires no action on his part, if that makes sense. He's not asking who he is, he's asking who other people are to him.

Jesus' Question
But - and I'd never quite noticed this before - Jesus doesn't answer his question. Not exactly. Jesus doesn't tell him, exactly, who his neighbor is.

Jesus tells him about a man choosing to be a neighbor.

In other words, the lawyer asks, "How do I know which people are my neighbors?"

And Jesus says, "By what fruit is a  neighbor known?"

The Command, and it's not just for the lawyer, but also for us . . .
And then, of course, "Go thou, and do likewise."

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

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