Following is an excerpt from session 7 of the Bible study, The Gospel of Luke: From the Outside In, by David Morlan and D.A. Carson.
One of the key characteristics of God and His people is that they are compassionate. As the prophet Isaiah wrote, "Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the LORD has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted" (Isa. 49:13).
To have compassion is to be moved to your core (literally it means to feel your insides/guts churn!) for the sake of someone else. It is a concern for the "other" and their benefit that has set apart God's people for ages, and in this passage we see that it, too, is the key feature of the ministry of Jesus.
As Jesus set His face to go to Jerusalem, He sent 72 followers ahead to the towns on His itinerary. The disciples had enormous success in these towns, as they later reported to Him, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name" (Luke 10:17). Jesus was so delighted at the report that He prayed to the Father, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will" (Luke 10:21).
In the afterglow of His success, an expert on the Jewish law emerged from the crowd. This lawyer with his religious question was motivated by a desire to frame Jesus' response in direct comparison to his highly educated, religious knowledge. The response to his question would certainly affect Jesus and His credibility with the crowd, but would also demonstrate to the lawyer where Jesus "compared" to his own self-perceived legal expertise.
Confounded by Jesus' response to the question, the lawyer left perplexed and more confused about the Jewish law. The lawyer had intended to test the knowledge of this itinerant teacher, but instead had his own religious foundations questioned. Jesus showed this teacher that being a neighbor means to show compassion to anyone who is in need.
To read more, check out The Gospel of Luke: From the Outside In by David Morlan and D.A. Carson.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version ® (ESV ®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.