WHEN A LAWYER ASKED JESUS about the big picture, or how to have "eternal life," Jesus referred him to "the law," or the two great commandments that all good Jews had known for probably 1,500 years (see Luke 10:25–37).

A lawyer, or scribe, was a Jewish scholar who was expected to know the ancient scriptures, or law, quite well. So it was appropriate for this lawyer to refer to the two great commandments right from those Hebrew texts. The first one, about loving God supremely, comes from Deuteronomy 6:5. The second one, which is about loving our neighbor as ourselves, is from Leviticus 19:18. Eternal life, based on loving God and loving our neighbor, implies that this perfect, eternal life is here, now. But we need a more proactive love in order to awaken to it.

After the lawyer rightly recalled those two commandments, he questioned Jesus more about the second one, on loving our neighbors as ourselves. Just who are these neighbors we're supposed to be loving? he wanted to know. Jesus' further reply explained, through a parable, that our eternal lives involve loving people who are hurting, whom we either don't notice or don't love. In the parable, various travelers responded differently toward an unknown and unnamed person who had been robbed, beaten, and left for dead along the roadside. It was the "good" Samaritan stranger, not the Jewish leaders, who came to his assistance.

Enjoy 1 free Sentinel article or audio program each month, including content from 1898 to today.

We'd love to hear from you!

Easily submit your testimonies, articles, and poems online.