Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

How Can I obtain Eternal Life?

My Come, Follow Me studies for this week took me to Matthew 18 and Luke 10 in a lesson titled “What Shall I Do to Inherit Eternal Life?” This is the counsel given prior to the lesson: “As you prayerfully read and ponder Matthew 18 and Luke 10, pay attention to the quiet promptings of the Holy Ghost. He will tell you how these teachings and stories apply to you. Record the impressions you receive.” I like this counsel because it tells me that there is a specific message for me. The lesson was introduced in the following paragraph. 

When you ask the Lord a question, you might receive an answer you did not expect. Who is my neighbor? Anyone who needs your help and love. Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? A child. Is it enough to forgive an offender seven times? No, you should forgive seventy times seven. (See Luke 10:29-37; Matthew 18:4, 21-22.) Unexpected answers from the Lord can invite us to change the way we think, feel, and act. If you are seeking the Lord’s will because you really want to learn from Him, the Lord will teach you how to live in a way that leads to eternal life with Him.

The Parable

As with most scripture blocks, there were numerous principles discussed in this lesson. The principle that I feel prompted to discuss tonight is found in Luke 10:25-37: “To obtain eternal life, I must love God and love my neighbor as myself.” First, I will present the applicable verses.

25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?

27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.

33 But a certain Samaritan as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,

34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?

37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

Who Is My Neighbor? 

The lawyer must have been surprised by the Savior’s answer to his questions. His first question was “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? The Lord answered by reciting the two great commandments: Thou shalt love God, and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. His second question was “who is my neighbour?” We should keep both questions in mind as we study the parable of the Good Samaritan.

It is interesting that the Lord chose to use a Samaritan as the hero in His story, the person who showed compassion and love for a neighbor. Animosity between the Jews and Samaritans began centuries prior to the time of Jesus. The Samaritans were descendants of Jews living in Samaria who had intermarried with Gentiles. The Jews felt that the Samaritans had become corrupted by their association with Gentiles and had apostatized. Jews would travel miles out of their way to avoid passing through Samaria. We are not told the race or ethnicity of the traveler.

The story of the Good Samaritan is a good story that even children can understand: Some bad men hurt a traveler and left him half dead. A priest and a Levite saw the traveler and passed on the other side to avoid touching him. A Samaritan came along and took care of the man.

What Is the Meaning of the Parable?

As I said, the Good Samaritan is a good story, which is known as a parable. Why did Jesus teach with parables? He explained to His disciples that He taught in parables so that people could understand it at any spiritual level that they may be. To a child, the parable is a good story. To a person who is more mature spiritually, the parable has a deeper meaning. I want to share some thoughts and questions that may help you to understand the parable at a deeper level.

First, a little geography. Jerusalem is at 2582 feet in altitude, and Jericho is 800 feet below sea level. The road from Jerusalem to Jericho is about fifteen miles long as well as being a steep, winding descent of 3300 feet. The area is a wilderness that is dry and treeless. It is inhospitable and hot because the sun is relentless in its heat. The road to Jericho represents the descent of Adam and Eve and their posterity into the mortal world.

The traveler represents each of us. Sometimes, we are beaten, robbed, and left half dead by the people around us. We may be physically okay but suffering spiritually, emotionally, or mentally. Sometimes, we are like thieves – saying and doing things that hurt other people. Sometimes, we are like the donkey with heavy burdens placed on our back and an expectation that we will carry them. Sometimes, we are like the priest and the Levite – we see people who are hurting, but we do not stop to help. Sometimes, we are like the inn keeper and are asked to help someone who is hurting or needs help.

After telling the parable, Jesus asked the lawyer, “Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?” The lawyer answered, “He that shewed mercy on him.” Jesus then said, “Go, and do thou likewise.”

The parable and the counsel of the Savior have come down to our day to teach us about mercy. The Samaritan represented Jesus Christ, and His words “Go, and do thou likewise” tell us that He wants us to become like Him. He wants us to love God and our neighbor as ourselves – just as He does. By becoming like the Savior, we can inherit eternal life, the greatest gift of God.


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