Friday, August 31, 2018

The Good Samaritan

"But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29).

As Jesus was going to Jerusalem, an expert in the law asked Him: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25). Jesus asked the man for his own opinion, and he replied, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength; and love your neighbor as yourself,” quoting the two great commandments of Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. Jesus told him that if he did those things, he would live.

The Jews knew no one could live up to these laws, and so the lawyer sought to get out from under the burden of them. “Who is my neighbor?” he asked. Jesus answered with the parable of the Good Samaritan. A man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho was attacked by robbers and left half dead. A priest happened by but failed to help him. A Levite also passed by and failed to help. It was a Samaritan, a despised half-breed, who finally saved the man.

The Jewish oral law tradition, which Jesus battled so often, said the neighbor in Leviticus 19:18 was one’s fellow Jew. Jesus restored the true meaning of the law by saying the neighbor is any person near us who needs help.

When the Samaritan saw the man, “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” (vv. 33–34). The next day he instructed the innkeeper to care for the man and to charge the Samaritan for expenses. The compassion of the Samaritan lay not in the fact that he felt bad about the situation, but in that, he gave of his own substance to help the wounded man. Compassion meant action.

Then Jesus asked the lawyer, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” (v. 36). Now the lawyer had to decide between the true meaning of the law and the oral tradition. “The expert in law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise’ ” (v. 37).

Neighborliness involves caring for those in need, especially those who are geographically near to us. How well do you know your neighbors? Make yourself more available to the needs of those who live near you.