How do you read it?

In Luke 10:25-29, Jesus was having a conversation with an expert in the Law. [Insert numerous lawyer jokes here.] Lawyers get a bad rap, probably because lawyers aren't always interested in the truth. They are interested in using the Law to make it work for their client's advantage. Some lawyers are expert in loopholes, bending it to get the outcome they want while looking for gaps in the law to their advantage. On the flipside, there are other lawyers who use every letter of the law to "throw the book" at someone for maximum punishment.

Lawyers either love loopholes or legalism, depending on whether they are for the defense or prosecution.

The man questioning Jesus was an expert in the Law -- a Pharisee. They were experts, according to Jesus, at tying up burdens around other people's necks while ignoring their own sin. They were guilty of over-regulation in an attempt to produce holiness in other people's lives. Jesus asked him, "How do you read the Law?"

It's a good question. How do we read the scriptures?

For some, they read it looking for loopholes. What can I get away with? What's the bare minimum required of me? How can I reduce its importance? For others, they read it for its legality. What restrictions can I impose on others? How can I throw the book at people? But Jesus wants us to read it for what it is: God's divine revelation of himself to us! If it comes from God, it must be important, life-giving, and authoritative.

With Jesus' question, he acknowledges the Word of God is subject to our interpretation. The Pharisee answered by quoting the Law but immediately looked for a loophole. "And just who is my neighbor?" I'm not obligated to foreigners, the unclean, or sinners, am I? What's the minimum I have to do?

Then Jesus closed his loopholes and loosened his legalism by telling a story we know as "The Good Samaritan". Although we can and do interpret the scriptures ourselves, our interpretation of Scripture is subject to Jesus! We don't get to make it say what we want it to say. We don't get to create loopholes, and we don't get to use it to control others or hurt people. Both the loopholes and legalism were rejected by Jesus.

We should be very careful about adding to it or taking away from it. The Word of God is good.