As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, we’re coming to a familiar parable of Jesus. You may want to read Luke 10:25-37 before reading this post.
In this section of Scripture, we see an expert in the Law approaching the Lord with some questions. His goal was probably to test Jesus, to find a basis for accusation against Him.
His first question was a simple one. “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” At that point, under the Old Covenant, Jesus answered with a question of His own.
“What is written in the Law?” he [Jesus] replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered: “‘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, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
Luke 10:26-27 NIV
This expert in the Law gave the expected answer. This is what was commonly accepted as the summation of all the Law and the prophets. However, this lawyer couldn’t just stop there.
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Luke 10:28-29 NIV
Here’s where it starts to get interesting. You usually don’t feel the need to justify yourself unless you’re feeling guilty about something. In talking with Jesus, there must have been some conviction about how he had treated people in the past. He wanted to clarify that he was okay.
According to Old Testament thinking, a neighbor was a fellow countryman. Any Jewish person would qualify. Someone who was not a Jew would not be treated as a neighbor in terms of the Scripture.
Jesus went on to tell this man a parable. Someone was on a trip and was attacked by bandits along the road. He was robbed, beaten, and left for dead.
Soon, a priest came by that way. But, he ignored the man in need. A Levite also came by, but ignored him as well. These were both men who knew the Law and would have given Jesus the same answer to His question.
Then, a Samaritan came along the same road. These people were considered outsiders by the Jews. They had no dealings with each other and made sure that they kept their distance.
But, when the Samaritan saw the man in need, it didn’t matter to him whether or not the man was a Jew. He stopped and helped. He treated the man’s wounds and carried him on his donkey.
He was then taken to an inn where he could stay for the night. In the morning, the Samaritan prepaid so that the injured man could stay long enough to heal. He also promised that if there were any further expenses, he would come back and cover them.
Now it was time for the most important question.
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
Luke 10:36 NIV
In the literal Greek, Jesus asks, “Which of these three became a neighbor to the man…?” The two who were neighbors according to Jewish tradition, failed to help. The one who was not expected to help, did what was needed even though he was not a fellow countryman.
The answer was clear.
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Luke 10:37 NIV
Who is my neighbor? It’s anyone that I have opportunity and ability to help. It’s not necessarily someone who lives next door. It could be anyone I meet during my day.
That’s why I need to be sensitive to the Lord’s leading. He can show me who to bring a blessing to. Then, as a result, I’ll reap a blessing from what I’ve planted in someone’s life.
Question: How have you been a neighbor lately?
© 2022 Nick Zaccardi