"What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Who would have thought that that question, which so many ask, would have tempted Christ? It is the language of one "willing to justify himself." What shall I do? No words can more plainly show the ignorance of a fallen sinner. Whilst these words are on his lips, he knows not his lost, fallen, helpless condition.
The Lord knows the pride of the deceived heart. The religionist can repeat the law, and no doubt thinks he can keep it. "Do it," says Jesus, "and thou shalt live;" and then answers his tempting question with one of the most striking parables in the word of God. This parable of the good Samaritan is the answer to man's question, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" It describes man's condition — yours. Fallen among thieves, stripped, wounded, left half dead. What a picture! and how true! Man is not innocent — not happy; but fallen, guilty, helpless, undone. Look at that dying man by the road-side; he cannot walk a yard further, no, not a step. He cannot even call for help. Do not you see he is dying? Is this the man to talk about doing — eh? Poor dying man, the law cannot help thee! The priest and the Levite have to pass thee by; they cannot help thee. Reader, thou art this man; this is thy spiritual state. The law cannot help thee; the priest and the Levite cannot help thee. Thine own efforts, thy resolutions, thy struggling! I tell thee there is only one that can help thee. "A certain Samaritan came where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, 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." This is Jesus, the Son of the living God. Infinite love — mighty to save? God so loved, so pitied, fallen, helpless, naked, dying man. He saw him where and as he was. Yes, this is the glory of the Gospel. God, full of tender compassion, rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins; yes, even then God sent His beloved Son to man, laid by the road-side fallen in sin and misery. (See Eph. 1:1-10.)
Man could do nothing: Jesus came to him where he was. What a journey of love! He came to do all for the sinner, and He has done it; it is finished. "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, and good-will towards men."
Oh! my reader, dost thou thus know Jesus? Is it no longer what shall I do? But art thou resting on what Jesus has done on the cross? Hast thou been brought to know thy utterly lost condition by the way-side? Has Jesus come to thee — has He bound up thy broken heart, pouring in oil and wine? Has God revealed to thee Jesus, taking thy place as a sinner, and now giving thee His place in spotless purity for over. Dost thou know that it is not thy taking care of Jesus, but Jesus taking care of thee? yea, and until He comes again, that He hath committed thee into the hands of God, who keeps thee with His mighty power! yes, that He will take care of thee? (John 17:11; 1 Peter 1:5.)
If thou art a doer for eternal life, thou art a rejecter, a despiser, a tempter of Christ. But if thou knowest and believest the love of God in thus sending Jesus to thee, thou hast eternal life. It is the gift of God. Let thy work now be to show forth the praises of Him who saw thee; and saved thee, and loves thee for ever. "We love him, because he first loved us." Read the parable over seven times. (Luke 10.)