25 A legal expert stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to gain eternal life?”
26 Jesus replied, “What is written in the Law? How do you interpret it?”
27 He responded, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” [Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18]
28 Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live.”
29 But the legal expert wanted to prove that he was right, so he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 Jesus replied, “A man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. He encountered thieves, who stripped him naked, beat him up, and left him near death. 31 Now it just so happened that a priest was also going down the same road. When he saw the injured man, he crossed over to the other side of the road and went on his way. 32 Likewise, a Levite came by that spot, saw the injured man, and crossed over to the other side of the road and went on his way. 33 A Samaritan, who was on a journey, came to where the man was. But when he saw him, he was moved with compassion. 34 The Samaritan went to him and bandaged his wounds, tending them with oil and wine. Then he placed the wounded man on his own donkey, took him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day, he took two full days’ worth of wages and gave them to the innkeeper. He said, ‘Take care of him, and when I return, I will pay you back for any additional costs.’ 36 What do you think? Which one of these three was a neighbor to the man who encountered thieves?”
37 Then the legal expert said, “The one who demonstrated mercy toward him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
“The important thing is that we stick together!” *
Verse 29 showed that the legal expert’s question was as much about who his neighbor wasn’t as about who it was. Jesus built his story around a contrast sure to upset many of his hearers. Distrust and hatred between Israelites and Samaritans was over 500 years old (cf. Ezra 4:1-5). Israelites then saw Samaritans about the same way as many of them view Palestinians today. Jesus portrayed two apparently pious Hebrew men who showed no interest in acting like a neighbor. Then he pictured a Samaritan who showed profuse compassion and caring.
- In the story, the Samaritan didn’t just offer casual help. He put the injured man on “his own donkey” (which would mean he had to walk), brought him to an inn, cared for him, paid two days’ wages, and offered to pay more on his return if needed. How did Jesus' picture of the Samaritan reflect God’s vast generosity to us? How can knowing we’ve received God’s generosity move us to be generous to our neighbors in ways we’d not likely achieve out of our own goodness?
- We usually see in this parable that we need to help others (a big part of Jesus' teaching). But Jesus also showed an Israelite accepting a Samaritan’s help, though Israelites usually shunned such help. How secure are you in accepting help from others when you need it? Have you ever seen a time when asking for or accepting help opened the door to a neighborly relationship?
Lord Jesus, help me to recognize the “Samaritans” in my own inner world, the people I don’t like to serve or to let serve me. Move me from jealousy and insecurity to seeing them through your eyes. Amen.
* Buzz Lightyear from https://www.christianquotes.info/movie-quotes/16-fun-quotes-toy-story-movies-share-friends/
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Lindsey is part of the Missions team at Church of the Resurrection. She received her M.A. in Religious Studies from Missouri State University. Her favorite Bible story comes from John 21, because she will never turn down a brunch invite… especially not from Jesus.