The above quote is just before Jesus shares the parable of the Good Samaritan. An “expert in the Law” has asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. He is looking for a formula, a list of things, something concrete, something he can check off and be satisfied that he has fulfilled the requirements. Before answering, Jesus asks a question back – to paraphrase – “What do you think?”
Jesus is assuming that this expert in the law knows the law. Jesus understands that he probably had the answer he is expecting already formulated in his mind before he asked the question. He knows the answer he wants/expects.
Jesus is good at turning the question back to the one who asks. He wants to know what they think. He wants to know what their theology is. This is not just to test their understanding of the Scripture. I am becoming more and more convinced that Jesus does want to know what they think, how they think. Do they know what they are talking about.
I remember talking with a pastoral friend who had a congregation full of college and seminary professors, PhD's. I asked him how this framed his preaching. He replied that what they were really concerned about was if he knew and believed what he was preaching about—there would be no “pulling the wool” over their eyes. He said it had sharpened his preaching and teaching. It many ways it made him a better preacher. In some things the congregation knew more than he did. Same in all congregations!
In reflecting on this I wonder if this may be one of the problems with our world today. Not that we preachers don't know what we are talking about (no responses needed) but that our congregations don't know—many people no longer know the Biblical stories. They no longer know Scripture. And when this happens we preachers can get lazy and say almost anything we want and people will believe us. If it was said from the pulpit by the minister it must be true. Thus, we have many distorted theologies coming from preachers being believed.|
If you want to keep us sharp, keep us honest—read your Bibles. Know the Scriptures. Attend Bible studies – learn and grow. Think for yourselves. Question and seek truths. Just because someone comes across as an “expert” does not necessarily mean they are right.
I intentionally made a statement at a Bible study that I knew was wrong – about a year later one of those who attended asked me about the statement. She had spent a year reading and searching to see if what I had said was right. No one else had raised an eyebrow—the pastor had said it it must be true.
Keep us honest – know your Bible! The “expert” in the Law knew the answer – he just didn't apply it deep enough and see everyone in need as his neighbor! But he knew the right answer.