Who Is My Neighbor?

S (Scripture): Luke 10:25 Now an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you understand it?” 27 The expert answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” 28 Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But the expert, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him up, and went off, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, but when he saw the injured man he passed by on the other side. 32 So too a Levite, when he came up to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan who was traveling came to where the injured man was, and when he saw him, he felt compassion for him. 34 He went up to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever else you spend, I will repay you when I come back this way.’ 36 Which of these three do you think became a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 The expert in religious law said, “The one who showed mercy to him.” So Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”

O (Observation):  In its day, this text would bring extreme shock value.   If anyone would be an example of being a good neighbor, surely the priest or Levite would do.  Yet they avoid the man in the ditch.  Why?  They would not want to be considered ritually unclean.  They could become clean again, but that would be a hassle.  

The Samaritan, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be bothered by the question of “ritual cleanliness.”  (Notice that I’m NOT saying he doesn’t care about being clean / unclean…he simply doesn’t let that hold him back from helping the man on the side of the road.)

The other bit about Samaritans is that they were considered “half-breeds” – Jews that inter-married with those from non-Jewish lineage.   They were “outsiders.”  So adding to the shock value is the fact that the one who is the good neighbor is also one who was typically considered outside of salvation.  

Now, re-read v. 28 and v. 37 again, for clarity.  What is Jesus asking of the young expert in the law?  

Jesus is asking the man to DO the things he knows he is called to do.   He knows that he’s supposed to love God and neighbor.  Now, Jesus tells him to go and do it!   Jesus tells him a story about a Samaritan man who shows what it means to be a neighbor.  Now, Jesus tells him to go and do it!

A (Application):  So easy to say…so hard to do.   Being a disciple is so simple, yet so hard.  We have so much of ourselves, so many obstacles that Jesus calls us to let go of.   But we hold on to the old self…the worldly self.  

Accordingly to this life, we want to be assured of salvation.  Yet Jesus doesn’t seem worried about that at this point.   Jesus seems more focused here on living out love for one’s neighbor…to DO something about one’s calling.  

The more we let go of our earthly surety, the more we allow God’s self to live in us and through us.  In this state of openness, we see that God can do wonders.  

What is in you that must die?  What are you storing up that is getting in the way of loving your neighbor?  For me, simply being intentional about loving my literal neighbor has been my challenge.  To start letting go of my insular life, and inviting them over would be a good start.  

P (Prayer): Lord, help me to see that the Gospel is lived out in me, for you and your glory.  Amen. 


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