“Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:.”.
The Lord is concerned with the issue of our heart. Though our outward appearance may seem good, people may have a high impression or opinion of us. We may be doing several things in life that we and others can check and say that we are well and truly involved in the matters of God.
There are three issues that Jesus wouldn’t overlook. First, the matter of trusting in ourselves. Though we say we are believers and God’s people, deep inside, we trust ourselves. It is very difficult for us to let go and let God handle the issues of our life. We do pray about certain matters in life but deep inside, we still are in control and we are working out our own solutions to issues that we confront in everyday life.
Second, we trust in our righteousness. We have equated righteousness to all the different activities, programmes, ministry that we do. Our identity comes from all of our involvements in different ministerial activities. We feel encumbered to market and push ourselves. We need a title or umbrella above us or else we think we will not be recognised and considered significant amongst our peers. This problem has become so deeply entrenched amongst us that it has become the norm in our behaviour.
Third, we despise others. We may immediately recoil at this and say, “I don’t despise others”. The Lord wants us to look within, in our hearts and in our attitudes. We must be honest to confess that we are often comparing ourselves, our ministry and all that we do with others and we justify ourselves. We say we don’t look down on other churches, organisations, ministries, but we do.
Most are familiar with the parable of the Good Samaritan. The Lord gave the parable as a response to a conversation with a lawyer.
And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ an ‘your neighbour as yourself.'” And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?” -Luke 10:25-29
The lawyer was asking this question of eternal life, in public, to Jesus. After having answered correctly to Jesus’ question, he felt confident of himself. Now, he begins to establish his identity to himself, to the people around, and to Jesus. He then asked a clarifying question to Jesus as to who was his neighbour. We are told, he asked this question to “justify himself.”
To help this lawyer to look within, the Lord gave the parable of the Good Samaritan, which we all know very well. After sharing the parable, the Lord then posed a question to the lawyer.
“So which of these three do you think was neighbour to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” –Luke 10:36-37
The Lord wanted the lawyer to identify as to who was the neighbour amongst the three in the parable. This lawyer did not want to identify the Samaritan in person. Notice that he does not utter the word, ‘Samaritan’ from his lips. Was not the Lord showing this lawyer the attitude of his heart?
There was a huge “barricade” that he had erected against the Samaritans. He had to first demolish this barricade in his heart, accept that the Samaritan was the one who was qualified for eternal life and not the Levite or the Priest in the parable. To the lawyer, this must have been shocking for he had already decided that it was he, who was eligible for eternal life and certainly not the Samaritans. He also had to be a neighbour to people around him, who are in need.
Do you see your own reflection here? Are there barricades that you have erected in your heart against certain people? Do you realise that appropriating eternal life requires faith to be combined with works, for faith without works is dead?