LUKE 10:30-37: “Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho. Robbers attacked him. They stripped off his clothes and beat him. Then they went away, leaving him almost dead. A priest happened to be going down that same road. When he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. A Levite also came by. When he saw the man, he passed by on the other side too. But a Samaritan came to the place where the man was. When he saw the man, he felt sorry for him. He went to him, poured olive oil and wine on his wounds and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey. He took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins. He gave them to the owner of the inn. ‘Take care of him,’ he said. ‘When I return, I will pay you back for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of the three do you think was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by robbers?” The authority on the law replied, “The one who felt sorry for him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do as he did.” (NIRV)
OBSERVATION: Who is my neighbor? This is a very relevant question for all believers to ask themselves today. As I read the parable of the Good Samaritan, I could not help but wonder how this could be put in modern terms. I read an interesting article that made the three main characters a clergyman, a church lady, and a biker. But in all actuality, they could be almost anything.
They could be a Politician, a Legislator, and the opposite Political Party of your choice. They could be a Catholic, a Protestant, and an Atheist. They could be a US born citizen, a legal immigrant, and an illegal alien. They could be a Christian, a Jew, and a Muslim. As you think of all the possibilities there is bound to be one scenario that makes you especially uncomfortable. And when you find the scenario that makes you most uncomfortable – you have the main point of the story!
The authority on the Law that was trying to justify himself, was proud that he had followed the two great commandments. He had loved the Lord with all his heart, soul, and strength. And to his own understanding, he had loved his neighbor as himself. That was until he was trapped with his own question – “Who is my neighbor?” When Jesus introduced this story, with a Samaritan as the key figure, it really showed this “so called authority”, how far he really was from following the Law as a means of self justification through works.
If we are all honest, it is easy to love our neighbor – when we get to pick them. I just returned from a weekend in Memphis. There are parts of Memphis that are truly hit by blight and an extremely poor economy. It is not the type of neighborhood that I grew up in, and some of the surroundings made me feel very uncomfortable. Yet, something I experienced while I was there, the people were very friendly. They were not just like me – but they were my neighbor. Their situation – really is my business. I need to remember them in prayer. I need to support positions and policies that will help them. And I need to pray that they come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ!
We had gone to Memphis to visit Graceland, one of my wife’s long time dreams. What we saw was this huge estate in the middle of the blight of an older neighborhood in Memphis. Just down the street was the brand new “Guest House” hotel. Both were carefully walled and gated off from the outside. You needed either a ticket or a pass to get through. The average person was not allowed, unless they could afford to pay the fee. I understand all of this, but it really was a stark contrast to how we so often live our life. It is easy to wall off the people and surroundings that we do not like. It is easy to pass by on the other side. It is difficult to really love our neighbor, when they are not like us, or when they are in reality our enemy (as the Jew’s viewed the Samaritans).
Lord, please forgive me for the times when I have acted like the priest or the Levite in this parable. Help me to be like the Good Samaritan, who looked beyond the walls of social prejudice and economic privilege, and reached out with sincere and honest love to his fellow man. Whatever my condition or position in life, help me to realize that Jesus came to call all men to Himself.
Help me to love others, as Christ has loved me.
In Jesus Name!