Luke 10:25-37 tells us the story about a discussion Jesus had with a
lawyer. This lawyer was a Jewish export in the Law of Moses, a prominent
man in the community.
It is interesting to see how Jesus dealt with such a man, a learned
intellectual. Jesus was clearly not afraid to enter into a discussion
based on trickery or intellectualism. We shouldn’t be afraid of such a
It is also interesting to note that once Jesus made His point, the
discussion was over in Jesus’ mind. Jesus did not mind a good
intellectual dialogue, but in the end, intellectual dialogue without
behavioral change is not what He was interested in.
The lawyer asked Jesus how he could inherit eternal life. Jesus
answered the lawyer by asking two questions of His own, "what does
the Law say", and "how do you interpret the Law". The
lawyer should have an answer.
The lawyer answered by quoting from the Law. He noted that "if you
love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and you love your
neighbour as yourself, then that should suffice".
The discussion based on trickery and intellectual pursuit of the lawyer
failed to trap Jesus. Jesus successfully disarmed the lawyer with very
little effort. Then the lawyer felt it necessary to ask another question
to justify his original question. He asked, "who is my neighbour".
This time Jesus answered not with a question but with a parable about
the good Samaritan. You all know the parable. In the parable Jesus
portrays the Jewish leaders as hypocrites and the Samaritan (part Jew,
part Gentile – despised by Jews) as the good guy.
Jesus then asked the lawyer who really loved his neighbour in the
story. The lawyer acknowledged that the Jewish leaders didn’t love as
the Law required, but the half Jew did. I’m sure the lawyer did not like
his own answer, although it was the right answer.
At this point Jesus told the lawyer to go and do likewise – go and
love your neighbour. By saying this Jesus ended the discussion. He was not
interested in purely intellectualizing with this man. He used the event to
make His point, but beyond that He did not want to waist his time in an
intellectual discussion without behavioral change.
I don’t believe Jesus is against intellectual understanding in
itself, as long as it leads to behavioral change. We should feel the same.