The Reading: Luke 10:25-29
“What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (v.25) NRSV
Eternal life is not only desirable, it is essential! When Jesus promised us that we may have “life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10), then surely this is an offer too good to pass off. Yet how do we secure it?
This therefore was the question asked by the lawyer in today’s reading: “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (v.25). Jesus’ response was that he should keep the whole law of God. In other words that he should love God and his neighbour with all that he has. Of course this standard was too high! He therefore tried to “justify himself” (v.29).
The fact is that none of us is able to enter eternal life by our own effort. As Jesus told his disciples, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). No one can save himself by trying to pull himself up by his own bootlaces. The whole essence of the Gospel is that God (in Christ) reaches down to us; he takes the initiative, and he gives us the power to respond.
Paul puts this point very clearly when he writes: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God – not because of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:9).
Therefore, when Jesus told the lawyer to be saved by keeping the law, he was merely enabling him to see that he needed help! It is only when we admit our need that God can begin to help us. Jesus came to the sick, not the righteous. That is, he came to those who knew they needed help, not to those who thought they were okay.
This story of the lawyer is paralleled by a similar one involving a rich, young ruler (Luke 18:18 and Mark 10:17). And what did he have to do to inherit eternal life? He had to sell all that he had and give it to the poor. Could he? No. We all need God grace in order to be saved and to enter eternal life.
Lord, I am weak but you are strong. The good I would I do not. Save me by your gracious power. Amen.
1 What are the dangers of head knowledge?
2 Who enters heaven first? (NB they were obedient to Jesus)