When the Gopsel lesson is long, well worn, and juicy, the temptation for proof texting is strong. Part of me want to preach only one line from the great narrative that is “The Good Samaritan.” As I read it early this morning, and even now a couple of hours later, I’m drawn, strongly, to the saving words of Jesus to the Lawyer “who stood up to test him.”
“You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” (Lk 10.28)
Even beyond that, I find myself wanting not just to proof text this pericope, but even to proof word it. I’d love to preach and teach and write an exegesis on one simple word, “live.” It is rich with meaning, as does its noun form, “life,’ which is where our passage begins.
“Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Lk. 10.25).
For Luke’s Greek, there are several words to use to talk about life and living: psuche (from which we get soul), bios (as in biology), meno (which means to abide), or, as is the case here, dzaho, which Luke uses in various ways in his Gospel:
- Luke 4:4 Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.'”
- Luke 10:28 And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”
- Luke 15:13 A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living.
- Luke 15:32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.'”
- Luke 20:38 Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.”
- Luke 24:5 The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.
- Luke 24:23 and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive.
This life that Jesus invites the Lawyer to live isn’t just about the great by-and-by. It isn’t about “your best life now,” either. Instead, it is the fullness of life that comes through a relationship with the God of all Creation. It is the sort of eternal life that begins today and lasts forever as it seeks out the dream of the living God. Life lived in love of God and love of neighbor is abundant life that can be lived today.