25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?"
26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”
27 The man answered, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind." And, "Love your neighbor as yourself.”
28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”
29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. 31 By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. 33 Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, 'Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’"
36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.
37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”
S - Scripture
27 “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind." And, "Love your neighbor as yourself.”
O - Observation
The lawyer (it is important to note that a lawyer in these times was more of a religious leader than a civil leader) in the story wanted to keep God and marginalized people at arm’s length. He was using religion as a buffer between him and God and him and others. Religion at its best is true to its original meaning in the Latin: to bind back together. Religion at its worst builds walls between people and God and also divides people.
Jesus constantly thinks, speaks, and acts according to the dual nature of Christianity: love for God and love for all people. This dual nature is not new to Jesus, but is derived from the Hebrew Scriptures: No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. –Micah 6:8
Jesus challenges people who live in their own small world: people whose kindness, mercy, and generosity extend only to a small number of people who are very similar to the person showing kindness. Jesus encourages people who are only concerned for family and friends to care for the all humanity.
The Samaritan could have thought to himself something like: What good is it going to do, in the grand scheme of things, for me to help one traveler? The traveler’s kindness wasn’t going to decrease the threat of war, solve world hunger, or even make a dent in the strained relationships between the Jews and the Samaritans.
In a world of great issues such as debt, war, injustice, hunger, and oppression – no issue is as pressing as the suffering of an individual.
A - Application
It’s possible that we’ve grown so accustomed to passing by on the other side of the road that we don’t see the opportunity for being a neighbor. Pray and ask God to reveal your neighbors to you. Once we discover who our neighbors are, respond to them with kindness, mercy, and love. We will be a blessing to a neighbor and we will be blessed by God.
P - Prayer
God, I want to love you with my all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I want to see people through your eyes and love others like you. Help me see the people on the sides of the road. Help me me care for them and share your love with them. Amen.