As Martin Luther points out in one of his sermons on the parable of the Good Samaritan (please read the parable Jesus teaches to answer the lawyer’s question [Luke 10:25-37]), it is important to note its setting. In fact, Luther included the previous two verses as part of his sermon text: “And [Jesus] turned to His disciples and said privately, ‘Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see; for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it...’” (vv. 23-24).
Many Jewish counterparts to Jesus’ disciples saw and heard the same things the disciples did. They saw Jesus with their eyes, heard His teachings, and witnessed His miracles. Yet they did not believe in Him because they “saw” and “heard” these things with their natural eyesight and hearing only. And when it comes to the spiritual, the natural senses cannot grasp the truth, for “the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned...” (2 Corinthians 2:13ff).
The lawyer who tested Jesus is a case in point. Surely he was a “wise” man and was even acquainted with the Scriptures, at least superficially. Yet, with all his human wisdom, he needed to learn the one correct answer to what can be called the “question of the ages.”
Who else asked that question? A rich young man, who believed he had kept all the commandments, asked Jesus, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” (Mt. 19:16) “Brothers, what shall we do?” cried the crowd to Peter on Pentecost (Acts 2:37). “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” pleaded the Philippian jailer to his prisoners, Paul and Silas (Acts 16:3).