“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” – Lk. 10:36-37 NIV
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When the word “expert” is used to qualify the knowledge of an individual, the expectation is that such a person has immense knowledge or is very skilled in the area of life in reference. However, the tendency for people so classified to unconsciously see themselves as all knowing in that area gradually creeps in and manifests in the manner they react to people on this issue, especially if there is any indication that the supposed level of skill is being doubted. The challenge is not always with the one that is so described as it can sometimes be with the perception of the people who are associating with the individual, and who believe that being an expert implies that such a person is all-knowing and infallible, with regards to the area in reference. The stark truth however is that there is no one that can have absolute knowledge on anything, more so have equal or higher knowledge than Jehovah.
The man that the bible described as an expert in law (Lk. 10:25), was probably getting carried away with his rating by the people and decided to test the knowledge of Jesus Christ. He did not even think of a better area to carry out such an insolent act, than the area of divine laws which Jesus was a co-author of, and on a subject which is the core reason for his coming to the earth in the first place, that is Salvation and inheriting eternity – Jn. 1:1-5; 3:16.
So when the so called expert of law decided to ask a question from Jesus Christ, not because he wanted to confirm what he knew or because he wanted to provide a platform for hearers to learn more, but because he wanted to test the knowledge of Jesus Christ about what it will require to inherit eternity and the need to identify who a neighbor is, in a self-justifying manner, he was always going to get humiliated, not because that was the intention of Christ but because that was always going to be the result of trying to justify whatever action or position that he may have advocated before him.
Jesus chose to respond to his test by relating the story of a man who was attacked by robbers on his way from Jerusalem to Jericho, and was left dead after he had been deprived of all his possessions. A priest and a Levite went past the man and saw him in his condition, but chose, for reasons not identified in the scriptures, not to lend a helping hand, whereas a Samaritan, one who belonged to a group of people regarded as unclean (Jn. 4:9), stopped, not only to help give first aid and take him to a care center, but also made financial deposit to take care of bills he may incur as his treatment progressed, with a promise to return and clear additional bill that may be incurred. At this point, Jesus Christ asked the expert in law who in his opinion was the neighbor and as expected, he identified the Samaritan, and consequently, Jesus advised him to go and do likewise – Lk. 10:37.
The advise of Jesus Christ to this law expert and his lack of response could easily be interpreted as a clear indication that he was lacking in that area of his knowledge and actions. One can only imagine how much of a deflated ego he went away with after realising that he was not as all-knowing as the word used to describe him suggested.
Most Christians in general and their leaders in particular, due to one form of worldly title or recognition, are unconsciously behaving like this expert in law. In whatever capacity your religious group may class you, you must never forget that you will forever remain a student learning under Christ and that awareness should be sufficient to humble you. Our law expert probably thought he was a direct entry candidate for eternal life, with the belief that he had sufficient understanding of what the requirements were, which were simply to love God and one’s neighbor. He must have thought that he had a clear understanding of who his neighbor is, and he also as much as possible, expressed love for them. What he however did not reckon with was that the neighbor does not have to be a blood relation, or one who lives next to his residence or anyone that he knows in whatever capacity, but the neighbor is anyone that one is in a position to save from adverse situation.
You too can learn one or two things from the experience of this law expert by stopping to ask how many times you rendered that help to that neighbor, when you were in such position. It is not about your spiritual position or your standing in the society, but about that singular act of rendering support to that person, known or unknown, that you are in a position to help. You cannot claim to love God that you cannot see when you are not expressing such love to the one that you are seeing, yet you are in a position to do so.
In that your exalted position, make effort to be humble and properly interpret those scriptures that you are reputed to be an expert in. That remains your only assurance of inheriting eternal life. May God teach us to remain humble in our earthly positions and properly implement His laws, so as to inherit eternal life in Jesus name. Amen.