Thoughts between Luke 10 and Leviticus 19

My reading in Scripture has been taking me through Leviticus in the last several days, as the result of a challenge from the Rhode Island presbyter to read through the entire Bible, which I have done faithfully since our meeting with him and two others for my credentialing interview.  Bro. Rick Sfameni, if you are out there, this blog post is specifically for you, with apologies to Wave Nunnally if I somehow manage to butcher what I remember Mark Turnage telling me…
 
We will catch up to the Genesis account in a minute, but first…

One of my professors, who taught us Hebrew via the Living Biblical Language model, gave us an illustration that has stuck with me to this day.   In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Yeshua spoke to a lawyer who asked, in an attempt to find a loophole and so justify himself (typical lawyer):

“Who is my neighbor?”

We get through the story, and then as we get through the story, Mark says to our class, and I fully agree with this:

Yeshua dealt with the first and second command (which begin with the words “You shall love…”) and moves to an interesting application of the Torah.  In the Torah, there is only one other place where the L-rd uses that grammar fconstruction, “You shall love.”  It is in Leviticus 19:34. 

You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the L-RD your God. 

It seemed evident that Yeshua dealt with the two greatest commands and then moved to close the loophole of this lawyer by using the third command to love, to love the alien and stranger, as an application of the principle found in the second.  

The answer to this question, for my Southern brothers, is that “carpetbagging Yankee.” 
The answer to this question for my New England brothers, is that “dumb hick” whose ancestors you think were responsible for starting the Civil War(I say this as a proud Dixie native, “dumb hick” and rabid advocate of states’ rights).  
The answer to the impatient, road-raging driver is that idiot who cuts you off on I-91 as you hurry through 5:00 traffic, or in the rotary (called “roundabouts” in Dixie and the border states) on the way to church.  
The answer, husbands and wives, is your irritating spouse in the moment they display the most asinine behavior on planet earth on the way to church.  
The answer, parents, is your children, who wake you up daily at 6 am, after three hours’ sleep in order to yell at each other about toys an hour before you and they are supposed to get up (I say this as a father of two who do this on a regular basis).  
The answer, son-in-law and daughter-in-law, is your in-laws.  
The answer, FOX News disciple, is that Muslim you wished to G-d the government would profile, so you can get on with your life and hope to G-d he does not terrorize your plane, when in fact it could be someone with skin just as white as yours (I say this as a listener of FOX News).  
The answer, pastor, is that one person Sunday in and Sunday out whom you cannot stand but comes to you with what seems to you to be the most foolish question in the world each week (I say this as a future minister who has had plenty of practice in this, and has eaten his share of humble pie).


The alien and sojourner, the usurper (at least, in your eyes) is the one whom you are supposed to love. That is your neighbor.

What I discovered in this passage is that Yeshua is, in making Leviticus 19:34 an application of the second commandment, is covering love of aliens under the umbrella of things on which “all the law and the prophets hang.” This not only adds dimension to our understanding of the greatest commandments, but it also brings conviction.

Moreover, what Yeshua is saying, which was a recurrent theme of his ministry to the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, and legal experts, is the following:

In their zeal to remain ceremonially clean and not defile themselves, the priest and Levite, in refusing to help their neighbor, this beaten man, fellow Israelite, broke the law.  They should have sloughed off their religious duties, duties which got the religious leaders into trouble with Yeshua on more than one occasion, helped the man, and dealt with being ceremonially unclean for a measly day or week.  Moral and ethical law trumps ceremonial law any day of the week and shows the heart of G-d for his people. 

Or put several ways from the mouth of Yeshua
 “Which of you, if his donkey falls in on the Sabbath, will he not pull it out?”
“You clean the outside of the cup and dish?”
“Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: …?”
“And why do you break the commandment of G-d for the sake of your tradition?”
it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”

 The concern for ceremonial law in the eyes of G-d is  far less important than healing the withered hand, cleansing the leper, expelling demons, and raising the dead.  

Moreover, G-d used the example of the Samaritan to probe the depth of this legal expert’s heart.  He cut to the root of the issue with the meat and potatoes of the law, which was love of G-d and love of neighbor.  This Samaritan would have surely rankled the sensibilities of any expert of Jewish Torah.

Thoughts 

 

 

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