Who is My Neighbor?

4/3/2017

 

Luke 10:25-37 (NIV)

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

 

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

26What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

28 You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.

I’m sure we have all heard of this passage before. But I wonder how many of us have actually studied this passage. I don’t mean just reading it in quick passing to check off the daily bible reading box. I mean actually absorbing it.

Notice first of all the expert in the Law’s intention. He wasn’t speaking with Jesus because he revered him as a fellow expert of the Law. He didn’t ask Him questions because he thought Jesus had something to teach him. He saw himself as the expert and wanted to extort superiority over Jesus based on his own knowledge and expertise of the Law.

I like, though, how Jesus responded. He didn’t attack or retaliate. Instead, He asked him what was his interpretation of the Law. This started to disarm this person, and likely even puffed up his ego a little, acknowledging him as the expert he saw himself as.

When the expert gives his answer, Jesus affirms the response.

But the expert wasn’t done. He wanted to test Him further, so he asked Jesus to define who is his neighbor.

Jesus replied in typical fashion with a parable. In this parable, He tells a story where a person is robbed and basically left for dead. Several people walk by but ignore this person in great need. Finally, someone, who doesn’t know this person at all, takes care of him and personally sees to it this person is cared for, even putting him up in an inn at his own expense.

I don’t think it coincidental that Jesus paints both a priest and a Levite in seemingly negative light, and paints a Samaritan in a positive light. The priest and the Levite were supposed to be the human representatives of God’s holiness on earth and Samaritans were supposed to be a sub-grade class of citizen, not worthy of the redemptive power of the Messiah. Yet in this story, He purposely flips the roles to prove that it is our actions that speak louder about of faith than merely our title or bloodline.

After telling this story, Jesus asked the expert which of these was a neighbor to the man who had been robbed. His response was the one who had shown mercy. Then Jesus told him to go and do likewise.

I believe this is His message to us today.

He did not redeem us to sit ideally, waiting for the church or the government to fix the problems of the world. Many times, we are content to do nothing because we assume someone else will do it. Psychologists call that the Bystander Effect. I don’t believe we should ever turn a blind eye to someone in need. There is a reason He’s revealed it to you in the first place!

 

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