One of the most beloved and well-known of Jesus’ parables is the story of the Good Samaritan. Jesus was approached by a lawyer, who wanted to ‘test’ Jesus. So, he asks a question of Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
The question is legitimate in every sense. It is the question with which we must all concern ourselves.
Jesus responds by quoting Deut. 6:5, you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. He then adds that one must love his neighbor too. Do this and you will live.
The lawyer wanted to make sure he was in the right so he asked a follow-up question, “Who is my neighbor?” What follows is a beautiful and yet piercing story about obligation to others.
A traveler was attacked, robbed, and left for dead. Two religiously trained men saw him, avoided him, and continued on with their concerns. The contrast between religious qualification and self-absorption could not be more pronounced. Then a third man comes by, a Samaritan. The Samaritan was viewed by the Jew as inferior in EVERY category known to man. Yet, the Samaritan sees the wounded man, tends to him, takes him to safety, and pays for his lodging needs.
The lawyer to whom Jesus is telling the story seems to have changed his disposition. Rather than “testing” Jesus or seeking to “justify” himself, he seems to be engaged in our Lord’s teaching. Jesus now asks him, “Who was the neighbor?” He turned the lawyer’s question around. The lawyer now submits and says “the one who showed mercy.” Jesus tells him to go and do likewise.
This teaching of Jesus comes to us from the outside. It is foreign to human survival, it clashes with schedule, personal agenda, bigotry, and SELF-ABSORPTION. To love one’s neighbor is to see him.
This message comes from Luke 10:25-37. Want to listen? Here’s the online sermon archive.