This is a question that almost any Jewish child would know the answer to. This is the ultimate goal of everything they believed. This is definitely not some curly, deep-cut kind of question.
What did the legal expert expect? He couldn’t have expected to stump the Teacher. Perhaps he expected Jesus to give the textbook answer – the answer eventually given by the lawyer himself – so he could be the one to pat Jesus on the back. Quite likely, he expected Jesus to give a more “innovative” answer, something new, something fresh. Then the lawyer could see if it was worth his while to follow Jesus a bit further down the track, or he would be able to call Jesus out for a fraud and a heretic.
Whichever way you cut it, the lawyer clearly thought the most important person in the room was… himself. And anything he got from Jesus would only serve his self-importance.
“We have hungered to be masters of the Word much more than we have hungered to be mastered by it.”D.A. Carson
So he might think he’s on to a good thing when Jesus turns the question back on him. He gets to answer, like the star student, a carefully rehearsed, textbook answer to this basic question.
So imagine his surprise when Jesus doesn’t congratulate him, or give him a gold star, but instead says: ““You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”” (Luke 10:28 ESV)
Sadly, as we read further, we find the lawyer misses Jesus’ point and tries to pick apart this statement and find loopholes in order to “justify himself” (v29).
When we come to God’s Word, we must be careful about chasing innovation or new ideas. We must also be careful of using the Bible to make ourselves look good, either before God or before others.
D.A. Carson once said,
“We have hungered to be masters of the Word much more than we have hungered to be mastered by it.” 
What Neill Young once sang is true of the Bible: “It’s old but it’s good”. It never goes out of date, it never becomes irrelevant. What we need to know from God is in our hands, under our noses. And it’s simple. It’s simple so we understand it, and are convicted by it and humbled under it.
Live it: We find the simple stuff in the Bible hard enough, like loving God and loving our neighbour (Luke 10:27). As Jesus says, “Do this, and you will live.” Are you chasing the new and the innovative, or trying to make yourself look good, at the expense of getting the simple stuff right?
– Clint Lombard
- John Blanchard, ed., The Complete Gathered Gold: a Treasury of Quotations for Christians, Accordance electronic ed. (New York: Evangelical Press, 2006), paragraph 1086.