…a lawyer stood up to put him to the test…desiring to justify himself
…“The one who showed him mercy.”
The lawyer had his Harvey Spector on when he stood up to ask his question. He wanted an opportunity to “shine”. He would flash his creds and demonstrate, even to Jesus, how he knew the law. Jesus didn’t disagree. “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
The lawyer was on a roll so he pushed further – but he broke the cardinal rule of lawyering. Never ask a question that you don’t know the answer. Jesus, given a ton of leave way, tells a story.
(Jesus could have pounded this guy. He surely knew the arrogance and pride in the young man’s heart. Jesus, without a doubt, could have taken the challenge and wiped the courtroom floor with his guy.)
Instead, while we are here learning about mercy – Hello? – Jesus demonstrates it to his own harasser.
He makes up a story about a man who is robbed and the people who might befriend him. He neatly frames the difference between “knowing” and “doing”. Now Jesus is asking the questions – “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”
Jesus’ question is not to show off. It is there to move truth from one’s head to one’s heart. And so, he genuinely asks for the young man’s discernment.
I can feel the lawyer’s bravado soften. “The one who showed him mercy.”
“You go, and do likewise.”