But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29)
When Men Try To Justify Their Actions
The parable of the Good Samaritan is one of the more familiar stories from the Bible but little attention is given to the cause of the parable. Jesus uses ever opportunity to teach the multitudes such as the sermon on the mountain or individually when Nicodemus came to the Lord at night to ask some questions. There were many reasons people asked Jesus questions but the parable of the Samaritan came from the dishonest inquiry of a lawyer who was trying to trap the Lord with His teaching so as to bring a charge against Him. A certain lawyer stood up and testing Jesus asked what he must do to be saved. Jesus was a masterful teacher as He simply asked the man what the law said he must do. Appealing to scripture to answer the lawyer, the Lord established the need for authority. The lawyer quoted from Deuteronomy and Leviticus as a principle answer and Jesus commended him for his knowledge. It was not the intent of the lawyer to ask a question about eternal life for his personal benefit but to lay a trap for Jesus to define the clearer meaning of a certain word or idea about ones neighbor. When Jesus commended the lawyer the man sought to justify himself and asked the probing question of how to define who a neighbor was. The Lord would give the lawyer a lesson he would never forget and prayerfully change his life as the story of a Samaritan unfolded. There would be no arguments after the story. The only conclusion the lawyer could leave with was that everyone was in need of the mercy of God and this was especially true of his Samaritan brethren.
Justifying oneself is an art crafted by the wiles of the devil to allow men to live like they desire in their own hearts. Before the lawyer was told the story of the Samaritan who helped the victim of a savage beating, he had made up in his mind a distinction existed between himself and other men. He knew the law taught to care for his neighbor but this could only be (in his mind) to care for a man who was his fellow Israelite. Anything beyond the bounds of mercy to a Samaritan (which was a half-breed of Jewish and Assyrian blood) or a Gentile (like a Roman) was not required. They did not deserve any love or attention because they were not the people of God. The blood of prejudice flowed in the veins of the lawyer who lived his life justifying his hatred of Samaritans and all others with scriptural vengeance. What he gained from Jesus Christ was the true meaning of God’s word that never taught for one race to hate or despise another race. Until the time after the flood all men were of one nation speaking one tongue. It was the division of the earth at the tower of Babel that created a world filled with different cultures, languages, races and nations. When Jesus came into the world as a Jew His nation hated the Romans who enslaved them and despised the Samaritans as a reminder of the wicked past in their own history. What is remarkable about the Samaritan people is they came from the nation of Israel following idolatry and God’s wrath upon them by bringing the Assyrian nation to punish His own people. As a result of the invasion by the Assyrians the people of Israel intermarried with the Gentile nation of Assyria thus forming the alliance of Jew and Gentile. A Samaritan was the vivid history of a rebellious nation of Israel. Regardless they were still God’s creation and made in the image of the Creator. The lawyer trying to justify himself would not change that.
Men try to justify themselves today with defining who a Christian is. Most consider a saved man anyone who walks under a sign that says Jesus Christ. Morality is judged by hearts that rationalize themselves into believing that God has made them to be what they are and that He would approve of their lifestyle. Churches with every brand name known to man are nothing more than man’s attempt to justify his desire to worship God in his own way. Within the body of Christ marriage, divorce and remarriage has been redefined to fit the mold of carnal justification to accept what the Lord clearly condemns. One of the greatest ploys of the wicked one is to convince people that if they justify themselves long enough God will change His mind and allow them to live as they desire. Sadly this idea will only last until the day of judging with the Lord God will thunder from His throne that His word is settled in Heaven and no justification by man has ever changed that. The lawyer tried to justify himself before Jesus to redefine who his neighbor was and the Lord brought the lawyer back to the only way, the only truth and the only life. There is only one way of knowledge and that is the law of God. It is a fatal flaw in man to justify himself because the ground he stands on is sinking sand. There is one truth, one church, one Savior and one God.