7658 - My Neighbor


Jesus told us quite clearly that we should love our neighbor as ourselves, even those that we might least expect.

Today we want to look at the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37.

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

"What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?" He answered: "`Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' ; and, `Love your neighbor as yourself.' " "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him.

The one who asked the question was an expert in the law. This means he was a scholar of the Hebrew Scriptures. He would have been schooled in the Jewish traditions. His question reveals the emphasis on works for a Hebrew to enter God’s kingdom. Divine grace would have been a new concept to him.

As Jesus sometimes does, he asks the lawyer for his answer to the question.

The lawyer gives a Scriptural answer as he reaches into Deuteronomy (6:5) and quotes: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” Then from Leviticus (19:18) he adds, and “love your neighbor as yourself.”

Jesus commends the lawyer for his correct answer. Then Jesus says that obedience to these scriptural commands brings life.

The passage says that the lawyer wanted to justify himself. The lawyer may have thought he actually loved God sincerely, and even loved people; but, apparently there was some doubt since he asked for Jesus to specify who was his neighbor.

Jesus tells a story of a man brutalized by robbers and left beside the road. First, a holy man, a Jewish priest avoided giving aid to the needy man. Then a Levite, one who served in the Temple, also shunned the wounded man.

Then a Samaritan came along.

The Jews viewed Samaritans as half-breeds. When Assyria captured the northern kingdom they left some poor Jewish people in the country. Then they imported foreigners to live there and make the land profitable. In time these people intermarried, so they were not pure-blooded Jews.

Those listening to Jesus would certainly not expect a favorable response from this Samaritan toward the wounded man. However, this lowly Samaritan showed love and concern for this needy man. He bandaged him, and on his own donkey took him to an inn. There he personally nursed the man, and before he left the next day he paid for the innkeeper to look after him.

Even the lawyer recognized the Samaritan who had extended mercy to the needy as the neighbor. Then Jesus told the lawyer to, “Go and do likewise.”

Since Pentecost, believers are supernaturally enabled to love. Romans 5:5 tells us, “...God has poured his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given to us.”

May we permit God’s love to flow through us so that we do love God with our entire being, and love our neighbor as ourselves.