And Who Is My Neighbor?

“And behold, a certain lawyer stood up, testing Him and saying, Teacher, What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And He said to him, What has been written in the Law? How do you read [it]? And answering, he said, You shall love [the] Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself. But desiring to justify himself, he said to Jesus, And who is my neighbor? And taking [it] up, Jesus said, A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell in with plunderers, who both stripping him and laying on blows, went away, leaving [him] being half dead. But by a coincidence, a certain priest was going on that road; and seeing him, he passed on the opposite [side.] And in the same way, a Levite, also being at the place, coming and seeing [him,] he passed on the opposite [side.] But a certain traveling Samaritan came upon him, and seeing him, he was filled with pity. And coming near, [he] bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. And putting him on his own animal, [he] brought him to an inn and cared for him. And going forth on the morrow, taking out two denarii, he gave [them] to the innkeeper, and said to him, Care for him, and whatever more you spend, on my return I will repay to you. Who, then, of these three seems to you to have become a neighbor to the one having fallen among the plunderers? And he said, The [one] doing the [deed of] mercy with him. Then Jesus said to him, Go, and you do likewise” (Luke 10:25-37).

A certain teacher of the law is desirous to know how he may acquire the gift of eternal life. Jesus responds with a question concerning the strict, inexorable, and inviolable demands of God’s holy law and justice. All of God’s holy Law is summarized in these two commandments: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39). God demands perfect obedience to the Law (perfect righteousness) and pronounces a curse on those who do not have perfect righteousness: Cursed [is] everyone who does not continue in all things having been written in the book of the Law, to do them (Galatians 3:10). Those who die under this curse shall drink of the wine of the anger of God having been mixed undiluted in the cup of His wrath. And he will be tormented by fire and brimstone before the holy angels and before the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever (Revelation 14:10-11).

Jesus Christ said, “For I have come down out of Heaven, not that I should do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38). He came to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). Therefore, Jesus Christ was one having been tried in all respects according to [our] likeness, apart from sin (Hebrews 4:15). He did not sin, nor was guile found in His mouth (1 Peter 2:22). But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, having come into being out of a woman, having come under Law, that He might redeem the ones under Law, that we might receive the adoption of sons (Galatians 4:4-5). Jesus Christ perfectly kept the Law as a substitute and representative for His people, in order that His perfect righteousness be imputed to His people. The sins of His people were imputed to Him, and He suffered and died on the cross to pay the penalty of the curse of the Law for their sins with precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Peter 1:19). For He made the [One] who knew no sin [to be] sin for us, that we might become [the] righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). In Jesus Christ we have redemption through His blood, the remission of deviations, according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7). Jesus Christ carried up in His body our sins onto the tree; that dying to sins, we might live to righteousness; of whom, by His wound, you were healed (1 Peter 2:24). The truth of the gospel is that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised the third day, according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). He was delivered because of our deviations and was raised because of our justification (Romans 4:25).

Do you now see how God remains righteous and just in the punishment of sin while saving certain sinners? The sinners whom Jesus Christ represented have a substitute! Their disobedience to God’s righteous Law was punished in the person of Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ’s perfect righteousness is imputed to these sinners! God has communion with His people because they have the righteousness of Jesus Christ imputed to them and have already had their sins punished through the death of Jesus Christ! All of God’s people are justified freely by His grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth [as] a propitiation through faith in His blood, as a demonstration of His righteousness through the passing over of the sins that had taken place before, in the forbearance of God, for a demonstration of His righteousness in the present time, for His being just and justifying the [one] that [is] of the faith of Jesus (Romans 3:24-26).

The gospel is the good news of salvation based on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone, without any contribution from the sinner!

The rest of the passage provides some general principles for true believers to consider when given or seeking out opportunities to perform deeds of mercy to unbelievers and especially to fellow believers (Galatians 6:10).