The Good Samaritan and Prayer

Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test
Jesus., “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Christ gets the lawyer to answer his
own question. The lawyer quotes accurately from Leviticus 19:18 and Deuteronomy 6:5. The lawyer
used ignorance, however, as his excuse for not measuring up to the demands of the Law; he did not know
who his neighbor was. Thus, he sought to excuse himself from the condemnation of the Law.

The parable answers the lawyer’s two questions: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” and “Who is
my neighbor?” The Lord intended to draw the lesson that the nation Israel, like the man among the
robbers, was destitute, naked, and dying. The spiritual leaders in Israel (the priests and Levites) were
unmoved by the need and unresponsive. The self-righteous would not help him or the nation to inherit
eternal life for they loved themselves more than others. Yet the despised and rejected One had come to
help those in need. Thus, this parable is a veiled invitation to the lawyer to accept the help Christ offers,
even as the dying man had accepted the help of the Samaritan traveler. Our neighbor is anybody who
needs us, anybody whom we can help.

Christ’s Visit with Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). Jesus was welcomed into Martha’s home. It is
doubtful this is the home of her brother Lazarus in Bethany as many scholars believe since Luke
identifies Bethany later (19:29; 24:50). Mary apparently was visiting her sister. In the Gospels, Mary is
characterized by a life of worship and meditation, while Martha was given more to a life of activity and
service. Both are legitimate. The error arose when Martha allowed anxiety to intervene and spoil what
was more important. Feeding on the Word of God that satisfies the soul outweighs preparing a meal that
only satisfies the body (cf. Matthew 4:4).

Lesson on Prayer (Luke 11:1-13). The example which Daniel set by praying three times a day (Daniel
6:10) was religiously followed by the Pharisees. They used prayer as a means of demonstrating their
piety before men (Luke 18:9-12). John the Baptizer had sought to correct corrupt Pharisaic practices,
such as their manner of praying. On this occasion one of Jesus’ disciples came to Him with the request,
“Lord, teach us to pray.” Christ in reply gave them a model prayer rather than a model prayer to be
prayed repetitiously. It differs slightly from the model prayer He taught in the Sermon on the Mount (see
chart: The Pattern of Prayer).

To teach them about importunity, more than of persistence in prayer, He adds the Parable of the
Importunate Friend. God does not need to be approached on a schedule. At whatever time there is need
you can go to Him with your petition. The point is that God is eager to hear and grant our request if what
we ask is good for us. A “friend” would get up and answer the request to avoid shame, but God is more
than a friend. He is our heavenly Father, who is anxious to answer our requests. The application is “for
everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” And
the best gift we can ask for is the Holy Spirit, who imparts eternal life and help us to live the abundant life
now.

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