Many people neither believed in nor understood the concept of eternal life. One of those was a lawyer who wanted to test Jesus by asking what he should do to inherit eternal life.
Jesus answered his question with a question of His own, “What is written in the law?”
The lawyer replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
As the lawyer saw that he was trapped, he attempted to justify himself by asking, “Who is my neighbor?”
Jesus used this occasion to teach a great lesson on humility and service to others. He told a story of a man who was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho and was robbed and left half dead.
Three men came along and saw the man in this pitiful condition.
The first man was a priest, a person who because of his religious prominence should have helped out, but he passed by on the other side.
A Levite, who as a temple minister had the responsibility of service, came by and looked, but also passed by on the other side.
The third person who saw the man was a hated Samaritan. This Samaritan had compassion and dressed his wounds and took him to an inn and stayed with him until the next day. As he departed, he left money with the innkeeper and stated that if he spent more than that, he would repay him when he returned later.
Jesus then asked the lawyer, “Which of these three men do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”
The lawyer could see himself in the priest and Levite as one who knew the law, but did not obey it, but he answered, “He who showed mercy on him.”
In order for the lawyer to inherit eternal life, Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”