Who Is My Neighbor?
''On one occasion,'' says the text. On a certain occasion, like, ''Once upon a time. It happened.'' There are no details of where or when but it happened. An educated, religious, titled man asked a question of our Lord. Often people ask questions, not to get an answer but to demonstrate their wit or to sharpen their minds on the grinding stone of argument. Sometimes they ask questions to make someone look bad, you know, questions that just can't seem to be answered well. Maybe a little of all of this is what is meant when scripture tells us that this young doctor of Biblical jurisprudence ''stood up to test Jesus'' and asked the question, ''What do I do to inherit eternal life?'' It's an interesting question. You don't do anything to inherit something except wait maybe.
Perhaps he was asking, ''How do I know I'm in the family?'' ''How do I know I'm in line to inherit the Kingdom of God?'' I think he had his argumentative ducks all lined up. He was thinking to himself, ''I'll ask my question and he will ponder for a while and then if he answers in terms of faith, I'll ask: ''but what about works? If he answer with a discussion about works, well then, I'll talk about faith. Both grace and works are involved in faith. Love always transposes into works. There is no love without faith. There is no faith without love. I think this expert in the Old Testament was mentally salivating at the juicy prospect of this opportunity to expose his brilliance. So he asked his question: ''What must I do to inherit eternal life?''
Jesus said to him, ''Well, you're the expert in the Bible, what does it say?'' I can't tell you how disappointing an answer this was to the man. He was looking for stimulating and dazzling discussion and Jesus asked him a question any six year old kid in the country cou-ld have answered. There was nothing for him to do but blurt it out. ''You will love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul ...
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