The ‘Law’ with the Capital Letter ‘L’

by Rachel Labasan


Chaple SErvice July 17, Rachelle Labasan 010


Luke 10:25-37


Theme Sentence: God commands a love that knows no borders.



We all spell our names beginning with a capital letter; it indicates that it is a proper noun. Well I wanted to inform you that the word ‘Law’ in my manuscript begins with a capital letter. The Law with the Capital Letter ‘L’. Some of you might be thinking that what I’m talking about is nonsense. But I really hope that after this sermon, you’ll find this meaningful. J


We all know this familiar story – a man travels 17 miles from Jerusalem down to Jericho (in the Philippines, 17 miles is the distance of Cavite to Sta Rosa, Laguna). Jerusalem is 3200 feet high from Jericho, so we can imagine descending roads that are curved through rocky terrains where robbers could easily hide. In that dangerous place, he was attacked. He was beaten to death, robbed of his possessions; even his clothes were not spared. The robbers left him half dead. He was down and out and waits in vain for someone to help.


A priest, an officiating minister to a temple of worship just passed him by. Even a Levite who works in a temple assisting the priest did the same thing.

The Samaritan, who will never be accepted by the Jews as ‘one of them’ attended to him pouring on his oil and wine – (both his prized possessions) and bandaged his wounds; gave 2 denarii, his two-day wage to the inn keeper to and tells him to take care of the man, for he will be back for the extra expenses.


That alone was a touching story; it moves us, examines us inwardly and then asks us a question: What kind of neighbor am I? Am I like the priest, the Levite, or the Samaritan? But the one thing we have to remember is that Jesus told that story in response to a situation. In Luke’s account of the Gospel, we can clearly see that the parable is an answer to a question. Let’s check it out in the story.




Where there is an occasion, there will certainly be a crowd – different people with different intention gathered into a place. A question emerged from this crowd, the words coming from a law expert. “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” In other words, “Teacher, this is what I want. What shall I do to have it?”


Usually, a question coming from a crowd is a question everyone in the crowd wants to ask. Also, this becomes an important question to the crowd because this is what every Jew desires. A typical Jew follows every commandment written in their book of Law (with a capital letter ‘L’) because his obedience to what God requires qualifies him to have eternal life.


Jesus responds not with an answer, but with a question. “Hey, Law expert, what is written in the Law? You spend all your time studying it. Well, how do you read it?”

As expected, the law expert memorized it by heart. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all of your mind and all your strength. And also, love your neighbor as you love yourself.”


“Case closed, your question is answered,” affirmed the Great Teacher. “Do what is written in the Law, you will have what you wanted to have.”


As a law expert, the man must have seen clashing of their Law (with the capital letter L) with Jesus’ teaching. His primary goal for questioning is to test him and to hear what Jesus had to say about the Laws that shaped him and their religion for the longest time. He asks one more question – a question that nobody in the crowd would dare to ask.

Jesus heard the law expert recite the commandment. Jesus expected that as an individual who study the Law, he knew it by heart, and therefore obeys it.  With that, Jesus will not have any problem. Yes my dear friends, Jesus did not have any problem with the law expert’s answer, not until the following question is asked.


“Who is my neighbor?”


 The law expert asks whom to love according to the commandments. This question implies that what he cares for is the fulfillment of the Law for him to have eternal life. If the law expert really loved the Lord with all of him, he should never ask Jesus about: who are his neighbor.

For Jesus, the law expert should not get stuck with the Law. For Jesus, there is something beyond that commandment, and every follower has to see that.




Jesus attempts to change this kind of thinking with the story of the Good Samaritan.

Let us remember that the beaten man looks like a dead person, blood is all over his body and maybe all over the place because he was left. And perhaps, because of a commandment, the Priest and the Levite cannot afford to check if he’s dead or not. According to the book of Numbers 19:11, Whoever touches the dead body of anyone will be unclean for seven days.” They are afraid of violating what is written in their Law.


Let’s say, the verse mentioned a while ago was one of their commandments. However, in Matthew, Mark and Luke’s accounts, there is what we call the Greatest Commandment.

Luke’s account of the parable is found in the latter part of chapter 10. The parable was placed after Jesus sends out seventy two and before chapter 11, where Jesus taught his disciples how to pray. In the gospel writer’s point of view, there is something that believers had to know before learning how to communicate with God, and that is to know God’s greatest commandment:


“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all of your mind and all your strength, love your neighbor as you love yourself.”



The gospel writer narrows it down from being broad into being specific, because he gives meaning to what a neighbor means. Among Matthew, Mark and Luke, Luke is the only one to have an account of the Good Samaritan.


The greatest commandment will never be complete without the existence of the most significant character – the neighbor. The gospel writer supplies our understanding of the greatest commandment by giving life to that character.


Thus, the greatest commandment could still be fulfilled.




We are living in a world full of rules, regulations and orders. It starts on our homes, on the road, in school and even at church. And because these are rules, we are expected to obey and to follow. However, there were times when we seem to be bombarded with such rules. We come to a point where we feel incapacitated to keep up and follow rules; we get so tired of it, then it leads to one thing – disobedience.


We get so tired of running up and down the three-storey building to shampoo our hairs in the laundry area – then we end up washing our hairs inside the cubicle. We get so tired in having long hours of classes during the day but still have to do requirements at night – then we end up typing ‘what’s on our mind’ in our facebook account during study hour. We get so tired of waking up so early in the morning doing house works, reporting, reflecting, critiquing, listening, reciting, acting, dancing, drawing, singing, reading, writing,  thinking, {SIGH!} – then we end up sleeping not on our beds, but on our chairs while our teacher is discussing.


It is normal for people to get tired, even a machine needs rest. We disobey laws, orders and requirements when we become tired of following them.


In this world, disobedience is out of control – a daughter disobeying her parent’s advice, a student refusing to comply with her teacher’s deadline for requirements, an employee going against his boss, a driver violating the traffic signs and the list goes on.


Why would people make up rules, orders and requirements? Do they exist to exhaust us in following them? Are the commandments present to wear us out, then end up disobeying them?




The Law with the capital letter ‘L’. How is it different from the law spelled without the capital letter ‘L’?

The law spelled without the capital letter ‘L’ is man’s command – human beings who are bound to fail; human beings that have a limited understanding; human beings that are not perfect. The Law with the capital letter ‘L’ was said and affirmed by the Great Teacher because it comes from a God whose judgment is always right.


People living in the Old Testament times regard God’s Laws as holy and unbreakable. For them, their compliance with such Laws would bring them closer to God. Disobedience of such Laws is like taking a step backwards out of God’s presence and the worst? It becomes a backward step out of eternal life, which is a life with God and His kingdom.


In that time, God’s love has standards, and anyone who wants to experience it should comply with those standards.


When Jesus came, an anti-thesis to Law is born – and that is Grace.


Law, as defined is our effort made by us to gain acceptance with God. In doing so, we place our confidence in the strength that sometimes fade out.

I personally experience God’s grace and I know that all of us who are sitting in those pews also experience it. Friends, my experience of God’s grace is so overwhelming that I cannot grasp its meaning and put it into words. So I asked help from a Dictionary in the Library, which says,


Grace is God’s free and loving regard for us expressed in all that God has done and continues to do in our lives. It is God’s loving decision to select and claim us as His own. It is God’s love encompassing the borders caused by our frailty and sin. It is compared to the wings of a mother hen encircling us, her young, though sometimes we walk astray. It is the grace that had been with us the minute we were born. This is prevenient grace, and with it comes eternal life.


If God’s love were based on the Laws, it would be tiring and as we said earlier, exhaustion from those Laws leads to disobedience.


God commands people to love Him with all their hearts – which is one’s innermost being; his soul which is his life’s essence; his mind that contains all of his intentions and desires; his strength, or his ability to do and endure. This kind of love towards God will never manifest in the world without a neighbor.


 When we love God with all that is in us, we experience more of this grace. He is a God whose forgiveness is encompassing; whose compassion transcends races and nations; and whose love knows no borders. God’s love knows no borders, and allowing this love to flow through us

makes us a ‘neighbor’ to others, just like how the Good Samaritan had been a neighbor to the one in need.


Eternal life, according to Robert E. Van Voorst, is


“life with God and His Kingdom whether that Kingdom is on earth or in Heaven.”


Jesus wanted us to see something more than the commandments. Let us consider that His commandments are not made to wear us out, but rather these are God’s requests rooted in his love. In the Greatest Commandment, God asks us a favor. “My child, can you extend this Love that knows no borders?”


Now is the time to decide. Again, I’ll ask you:


Can you do a favor for God?

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.



Soli Deo Gloria! J