But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbour?”
An expert in the Law asks Jesus what he must do to be saved. Jesus says to him, “You tell me. What does the Law say?” The man replies that the commandment is to love the Lord and to love your neighbour as yourself.
Jesus tells him that if he does this he will have eternal life. But the man wants to justify himself so he asks “Who is my neighbour?”
Jesus then tells the well-known story of the Good Samaritan to explain that the neighbour is everyone we might see in need. Jesus tells the man to do the same as the Samaritan.
The lawyer’s root problem is that he wanted to justify himself, and Jesus would not allow this. He will not allow us to justify ourselves precisely because this covers up our sinful nature which must be brought to Christ for crucifixion.
In the story it is not the religious men who are justified, but the despised Samaritan who shows compassion to a robbery victim.
Good deeds do not make us right with God. However selfless love is a sign that we have moved from a place of self-righteousness to a position of God-righteousness.
While ever we are in a state of wanting to justify ourselves we can never be in a place where God is able to justify us.
Father I confess my tendency to want to justify myself. I confess that this is sin and I ask you to grant me the grace to repent of this in order to receive your justification. Amen.