Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Condescending One

If there had been a character in John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress," like the lawyer who met Jesus on the road to Jerusalem, he would have surely named him, "Condescending."  When this guy hailed Jesus, he was sure he had the upper hand.  After all, he was an educated professional and this Jesus guy was nothing more than a young rabbi from Nazareth.  He was sure of himself, sure of what he knew, and sure than no one knew more.  His response to Jesus' initial question shows he did know what was written in the law about right living, but more than that his attitude said, "Hey, that was easy.  Anything else?"
But, of course, he could not leave it there.   He had stopped Jesus to trick Him, to expose Him, to show who really had the upper hand.  So, he asked one more question, "And who is my neighbor?"  In response to the question Jesus tells the story of the beaten, near dead man by the side of the road, the priest, the Levite, and the Samaritan.  When He finished He asked the final question, "Which of the three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers.?"   The lawyer answered, "The one who showed mercy."   It is quite a conversation.  The lawyer who knew that God required loving your neighbor as yourself was focused on identifying the neighbor.  Jesus who knew the same God forced him to look at his own heart to see if he was one who really acted toward others as God required.  It did not matter about the identity of the person before him.  What mattered was his willingness to love by offering indiscriminate mercy.

People always seem to get more than they ask for when they start having conversations with God or His Word.  It has surely happened to each of us.  We ask the question thinking we already know the answer only to be surprised that God has a different view than ours.  His answer has a way of going beyond the boundaries of what is expected to a place that challenges us to look at our heart to see if it really is in step with the Kingdom lifestyle. 

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