“Serve only the Lord your God.” -Deuteronomy 13:4
The Good Samaritan
Jesus received endless questions as He lived on this earth. Some were sincere, “Please, heal my child?” or “How are we to feed all these people?” Other questions, however, were what we call loaded questions. These were from the religious leaders of the day, and they were intended to trick Jesus; either to question His authority, or give cause for His ridicule and persecution.
Luke 10:25-37 gives us the full account of a lawyer questioning Jesus. He asked Jesus what it takes to receive eternal life. Jesus asked him, being a lawyer, what his interpretation of the law was. The lawyer’s reply was, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus answered and said, “Yes, that is correct.”
Not satisfied with Jesus response, the lawyer pushed things a little farther and asked, “Who is my neighbor?”
To the Jews, the word neighbor meant members of the Hebrew nation only. So when he asked, “Who is my neighbor?” it was not out of ignorance. He was trying to get Jesus to validate what the Jews were practicing in their man-made cultural law.
Instead of answering directly, Jesus tells a story. The story of the good Samaritan. In the story a Jewish man, while traveling, is attacked by bandits. They beat him and left him for dead, stealing his clothes and money. A priest came along and passed him by without even a look, then a Levite came along and although he checked things out, he too passed the man by.
An unlikely hero came along; a Samaritan came upon the helpless man. Anyone listening to Jesus was aware of the hatred between the Jews and Samaritans, but there was a hidden twist in the plot. The Samaritan felt deep pity and compassion, not just in his feelings, but in his actions. He cleaned the man’s wounds and wrapped him in bandages. He took him to a safe place at an inn and stayed with him until the next day. After leaving, he gave money to the innkeeper to take care of the man, and when he passed through the area again he would take care of any further debt accrued.
Jesus asked the lawyer, “Which of these three would you say was a neighbor?” He then told the lawyer, “Go and do likewise.”
Jesus was intentional about casting the Samaritan as the hero. He wanted to show the Jewish people that “neighbor” surpassed borders. A neighbor can be anyone, without regard to nation, religion, or location.
Do you serve your neighbors?
Is it easier to serve those you know?
Challenge yourself to look beyond your borders and prejudices to serve people in need.