BY KYLE G JONES
We sinners share a common problem when it comes to Jesus’ parables. We read them with an eye to our own righteousness. That is, we read them with our eyes peeled for what they might tell us to do. We read them with Law tinted lenses.
While it is true that Jesus’ parables contain Law (commands and demands from God), if we’re to understand them rightly our eyes need to hunt tirelessly for where Christ and his Gospel reside within them. Though not always easy, we must avoid the temptation to make the Law our primary prize while reading or listening to Jesus’ parables.
Take the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37). Its popular understanding is that Jesus expanded the definition of neighbor to include all people by answering the question “Who is my neighbor?” with a story illustrating sacrificial care toward one’s enemy. And he made it official when, at the end, he commanded: “go and do likewise.”
But, “Who is my neighbor?” was not the primary question driving the discourse between Jesus and the lawyer that resulted in this well-known parable. The lawyer’s opening question to Jesus is, “Teacher what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
The parable of the Good Samaritan comes in the context of a salvation question. “Jesus, what must I do to be saved?”
Where does Jesus point him? Jesus asks, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” According to Jesus, the lawyer gives the right answer and, if he does what the Law commands, he will live.