Lent Devotional: Luke 10:25-36

by Jonathan Haefs

Luke 10:25-36 (click here)
…desiring to justify himself, [he] said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29)

Law-keeping, list-checking, legalism.

I’m an addicted to the high legalism offers through the drug of self-justification.

If Jesus will just give me the list, show me the boxes that need to be checked then I can make quick work of this “holiness” thing. This was the desire of the lawyer in Luke 10. He knew the requirements of the law… to love God and neighbor… but that second one seemed a bit too vague. He needed to make sure he had or could check off that box. He needed to be able to justify himself. So he asked Jesus to define, draw a box around the meaning of “neighbor.”

But Jesus refuses to make “loving your neighbor” an item on our “to do” list.

So… through one of his most famous parables, Jesus does what only he can do… he blows up our categories, resets the way we see the world, and puts our “to do” list through the paper shredder.

The “Good Samaritan” is annihilates the notion that the law of God is merely about list keeping and box checking. Jesus shows us that the law is aimed at the heart. Loving your neighbor is not merely a command to which your external actions should conform… it is a call that requires your heart’s affections to transform!

You cannot draw a box around compassion. You cannot make love a line item to be completed. You cannot check “loving your neighbor” off a list.

We need to be saved from our law-keeping, list-checking, legalism. We need to be rescued from our addiction to self-justification. We do not need Jesus to define “neighbor…” we need Jesus to be our savior!

And I have good news… Gospel news…

Christ died and rose for our justification, our transformation, and our ultimate glorification.

Have the affections of your heart been transformed by Jesus? Do we hear the call of Christ to love God and neighbor as another item to be placed on our “to do” list so? Do we hear that as something that has limits, a finish line, a box that can be checked and marked as completed?


Does Christ’s call stir up love in our transformed heart? Does it sound like a call, not to a task to be accomplished, but to a totally new way to live? Is our relationship with Jesus about merely conforming our external actions to a new set of rules… or is it about the transforming and transferring of our internal affections to a new ruler… to Jesus?

The good news of the Gospel doesn’t call us to be a law-keeping, list-checking, legalistic community… no… it calls us to be a Christ-empowered, compassion-driven, cruciform community.

*All previous devotionals may be found at www.thejoyofglory.com
*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.