I’d rather go to the dentist

I don’t like grading papers.  I’d rather go to the dentist (and my dentist’s name is Dr Au–pronounced “Owww”, as in the sound one makes while grimacing in pain).

Unfortunately, my life is dominated by grading right now (I’m procrastinating by writing this blog post).  So, it’s nice to know that my savior, Jesus, who was incarnational in almost every way imaginable, was also involved in grading (sort of).  He understands my pain.

Last week in one of my classes we studied the Parable of the “Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:25-37).  A lawyer comes to test Jesus, asking him a question, ironically addressing Jesus as “Teacher” (“What must I do to inherit eternal life?”).  Typically teachers give the tests, not students.

But Jesus usurps the lawyer’s role as teacher and responds to the question in his typical manner–with a question (2 actually: “What is written in the law?  What do you read there?”)

The lawyer’s answer combines Deuteronomy 6:5 (“Love God…”) and Leviticus 19:18 (“Love neighbor…”).  It doesn’t take Jesus long to mark the lawyer’s oral examination (much quicker turnaround time than me): “You have answered correctly.”  Basically, an “A-plus.”

But the lawyer apparently wants extra credit, so he asks a follow-up question: “Who is my neighbor?” which prompts Jesus to tell the parable.  Afterwards, Jesus asks a follow-up question, “Who proved to be a neighbor?”  Tough question.  Probably not the priest or the Levite who both ignore the half-dead guy.  “The other guy?”  Apparently, this was the right answer, although Jesus doesn’t grade his answer.  (Jesus must not give extra credit either.  Or perhaps he’s just tired of grading?)

Interestingly, Jesus didn’t seem to be offended by the lawyer’s test, perhaps he sensed that the lawyer was genuinely curious about the question.

If you have a tough questions, ask Jesus, either in prayer or in the context in his body here on earth, the church.  In return, don’t be surprised if you get another question (the lawyer got 3), a story or a command (“Go and do likewise”).  Your response will be graded.

For a longer discussion of the parable, check out God Behaving Badly, pages 87-90.

What do you think–did Jesus like the lawyer’s question, or was he offended? 


  1. I don’t know if he liked it or not, but he certainly didn’t waste an opportunity to invite that man into his mission of bringing the Kingdom of God to the Jews and Gentiles.

    I also like how Jesus had the credibility to tell that guy to go do something. Because he was already doing it.

  2. Ben, Jesus had no problems confronting hypocrisy, so I assume the guy was genuine. I agree about your points Jesus taking opportunities to get people involved, and he spent a lot of time caring for half-dead people.

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