About Jesus - Steve Sweetman

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Jesus Meets A Lawyer -
How Jesus Deals With Intellectualism


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 discussion either,

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".

Jesus agreed.

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.


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