What is written? How do you read?
“And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘what is written in the law? How do you read?—Gospel according to Luke 10:25 This lesson ends with the admonition, “Go and do likewise.” You maybe familiar with the parable that is central to the lesson, and our understanding of God. But first, reading carefully and clothed in our right minds, perhaps ask, “Is the lawyer who stands up to put him to the test acting in good faith?”
It is very easy to jump into the text, jump into the lesson, start discussing what is written from the first verse, which on this occasion is Luke 10:25. But maybe take a breath and a step back. What are we reading here? Answering on impulse, one might state the given, “It’s Scripture. It’s Holy Scripture.” But, again take a breath and step back, “What is Scripture?” Or perhaps to be a little bit more precise, “What does mean to have a Holy Scripture? What claim does, if any, does the Scripture have on us? How do you read?”
“Opps! This is already getting dull! Unless, perhaps, you are like the lawyer in the lesson. The lawyer came with an agenda. Would seem when it comes to The Bible, Holy Scripture, folks have an agenda; for example, holding up at a photo op in front of a boarded up church. No agenda equals no interest. But maybe, just maybe, the question the lawyer in the lesson asks is worth a few moments thoughts: “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’” Or, maybe just click on your I-Pad and see what’s happening on Facebook?
So maybe nothing is going on on Facebook. Consider again, “And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘what is written in the law? How do you read?—Gospel according to Luke 10:25. The longest journeys begin with one step. So it is this one single verse. It does appear that the lawyer had an agenda. “Stood up to put him to the test”. That’s the way most would be theological discussions go. But note, there is a difference between being in the discussion and reading the discussion, even reading the discussion as Holy Scripture. “And a lawyer, make that “a would be theologian stood up to put him to the test asking, ‘How many angels can stand on a pinhead?” The answer is, of course, depends on the size of the pin.” Or, “No! No I say only one. God sends only one angel at a time to deliver the mail.” Whatever! But reading–how do you read? Take a look at “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” A rough analogy, “Tell me what I need to do to inherit the throne of the United Kingdom?” Hint: If your name’s not Prince Charles or Price William, you’re probably out of luck!” There’s nothing you can do to earn an inheritance. You’re either in the family and in line or you are not. The lawyer asks what we might call “a muddled question, a Nonsensical Question. The Nonsensical Question does not get a nonsensical answer. But rather, “He said to him, ‘what is written in the law? How do you read?” The lawyer is directed back to Scripture, Tradition, Community, History. In a thoughtful moment, we might notice the irony. The reader, one who would dare open and read is also directed back to Scripture, which is also tradition, community and history. I, as reader and as the reader; in the very act of reading scripture; I am directed back to Scripture. “What is written in the law? How do you read?”