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WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?

From The Heart

Publish date: 09/28/2003

And then a certain lawyer arose to try (test, tempt) Him, saying, Teacher, what am I to do to inherit everlasting life [that is, to partake of eternal salvation in the Messiah's kingdom]? 26 Jesus said to him, What is written in the Law? How do you read it? 27 And he replied, You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. 28 And Jesus said to him, You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live [enjoy active, blessed, endless life in the kingdom of God]. 29 And he, determined to acquit himself of reproach, said to Jesus, And who is my neighbor?  Luke 10:25-29 AMP

This lawyer tried to trip Jesus up and expose Him by asking an argumentative question. However the lawyer was the one whose heart was exposed. Jesus knew the Word of God and submitted Himself to it. He did not preach His own doctrines or draw people after Himself, but He always pointed people to the Father and to the Word of God. Jesus answered the question with a question, “What does the Word say? What does the law say?”  

The lawyer quoted the law in reply, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”  Jesus told him, “That’s exactly right – now go and do it!” This embarrassed the lawyer, because he was looking for an argument and he wanted to put Jesus on the spot. Instead Jesus put him on the spot. Instead of shutting up and leaving, he tried to save face and maintain his pride by asking, “Who exactly is my neighbor?” Jesus answered with a story.

Jesus, taking him up, replied, A certain man was going from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him of his clothes and belongings and beat him and went their way, [unconcernedly] leaving him half dead, as it happened. 31 Now by coincidence a certain priest was going down along that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 A Levite likewise came down to the place and saw him, and passed by on the other side [of the road]. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he traveled along, came down to where he was; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity and sympathy [for him], 34 And went to him and dressed his wounds, pouring on [them] oil and wine. Then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii [two day's wages] and gave [them] to the innkeeper, saying, Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I [myself] will repay you when I return. 36 Which of these three do you think proved himself a neighbor to him who fell among the robbers? 37 He answered, The one who showed pity and mercy to him. And Jesus said to him, Go and do likewise.  Luke 10:30-37 AMP

Here this man was beaten and robbed and left for dead out on the open road. A priest came by and saw him, but did nothing to help him. All he did was move as far over to the other side of the road as possible and hurry by. A Levite came by after that and did the exact same thing. Then a Samaritan came by. He did not do what the priest and the Levite had done - he stopped and helped the man. He dressed and bound his wounds, placed him on his own transportation – his beast – and took him to an inn. He gave the innkeeper money and instructed him to take care of the wounded man. He promised to come back by later and to reimburse the innkeeper for any further charges he might incur taking care of him.

This was not a small thing he did. He was on his way conducting his business and this man was a perfect stranger to him. He went out of his way to help this man; he spent his time and his money on this man who was nobody to him. He could have hurried away and minded his own business like the others, but he didn’t. Maybe he thought to himself, “If I had been coming down this road a little earlier, it might have been me lying helplessly on the road right now!” and he had compassion on the man. The priest and the Levite may even have felt sorry for the wounded man, but not enough to inconvenience themselves in any way. The Samaritan did not just feel sorry for him, he did something about it.

The Jews despised the Samaritans and looked down on them. They thought that they were better than them and that they weren’t “saved” and yet the Samaritan, alone, proved himself to be the good neighbor. He showed himself to be a man of character and integrity. It is not our heritage, our title, or position that matters to God. He is pleased when we walk in love an when we are humble and kind. It is our generosity of spirit that matters above all else.

Withhold not good from those to whom it is due [its rightful owners], when it is in the power of your hand to do it.   Proverbs 3:27 AMP

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