WHO IS YOUR “NEIGHBOR?”
In today’s lesson we will use the scriptures from Luke 10:25-37 and allow you to sit in awe as Jesus the great Master Teacher, teaches an expert in religious law on the subject, “Who is your Neighbor?” The story begins when this lawyer asked Jesus a question that revealed the lawyer’s profound ignorance about the central issues of the faith, eternal life and the basic command to love one’s neighbor. The word “Neighbor,” refers to fellow human beings in general. A person cannot maintain a good vertical relationship with God without also caring for his or her neighbor.
Now listen to the Master Teacher as he schools this expert lawyer in religious Law. The bible says, “Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus.”Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?” The lawyer asks!
He answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?”
He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.”
“Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.”
Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor‘?”
Jesus answered by telling a story, [parable] “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.
Now here is where the story really gets interesting because the next person to come alone this same road was a despised Samaritan. Jews hated Samaritans, so when Jesus introduced this Samaritan man into the story, the Jewish listeners would not have expected him to help a Jewish man. But in great detail, Jesus described all that the Samaritan did for this man. This Samaritan is pictured as understanding what it meant to help someone in need, to be a neighbor, regardless of racial tensions.
Now here is how Jesus continues the parable, he says, “A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’
After Jesus had completed His story [the parable], He asked the lawyer, who was the expert in religious law, who had also been a neighbor to the wounded man this question; “What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?” The lawyer had no choice but to answer that the one who showed him mercy, the Samaritan, had been the true “Neighbor.” The Samaritan traveler and the Jewish man were far apart in distance and spiritual heritage, but the Samaritan had loved his neighbor far better than the hurt man’s own religious leaders. Jesus said that the legal expert had answered correctly and should go and do the same. Jesus taught that love is shown by action, that it must not be limited by its object, and that at times it is costly.
Let me conclude this lesson with the same question we begin it with, “WHO IS YOUR NEIGHBOR?” May God’s grace and mercy rest and abide with you now and forever, in Jesus name. Amen!