A good neighbor

The Bible talks much about being a good neighbor. It tells us to love your neighbor as yourself. 

Now, it is perfectly natural for you to love yourself, after all, it’s you! But loving others as much as you love yourself is a tall order for anyone. To illustrate this Jesus gave the parable in Luke 10:25-37. 

Although we are very familiar with this story, today I want to look at this parable through the eyes of the lawyer who asked Jesus a question. 

He had correctly summed up the law to two commands – “Love God with all your heart” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” When he considered the magnitude of these requirements, this prompted the question: “Who is my neighbor?” (I mean, c’mon Jesus, you can’t mean I am to love everyone I meet!) 

Jesus answers his question with this parable. He puts into the parable, two men who were diametric opposites. The Jews hated the Samaritans and the feeling was mutual. They were cultural enemies and religious rivals. Jesus deliberately does this, to show us that our neighbor is anybody.

Now, it is important that Jesus put this lawyer (the Jew in the story represented him) on the road, beaten and bloody and not on the horse coming by.  Let’s suppose Jesus told the story a different way, having the Jew come by and seeing the Samaritan. 

The lawyer would stop him and say, “Stop! That would never happen, I would leave him there in a second!” But, Jesus didn’t do that. He put the Israelite on the road and the Samaritan in the saddle. Jesus effectively asks, “What if you were on the road – what if you were bleeding? What if your only hope was mercy from someone who owed you no mercy? Hey, Mr. Lawyer, would you want mercy then?”

You see, my friend, that is exactly what Christ did for us on Calvary. He owed us nothing, yet he came. He showed us mercy when we did not deserve it. If you can effectively consider Christ your Good Samaritan, then you will look at people differently.  Now you could look at people that you normally may not even like and think, “I was saved by Someone Who owed me nothing, by Someone that I had rejected myself.” This will destroy your pride. No longer can you look down on people who are not like you. You have experienced grace.

Then Jesus reverses the lawyer’s question. “Who is my neighbor?” the lawyer had asked. Now Jesus asks, “Who was neighbor to you?” The lawyer couldn’t bear to say the word Samaritan, and so answered, “The one who showed mercy.”

Oh, dear friend, we live in times that desperately call for mercy. Rather than trying to “trim down” our actions by asking, “Who is my neighbor” let us ask the question, “Who can I be a neighbor to?”