Who is My Neighbor?
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Luke 10:29-37 New International Version (NIV)
How often do people see someone in distress and look the other way? Folks claim to care about the welfare of others, but sometimes an opportunity to help someone will present itself but the desire to render aid escapes them. Far too often getting involved with another person's problem is just a bit too much. In this parable, Jesus calls us to help our "neighbor" and He describes a person that would usually be despised in these times by the person he is helping. Jesus said this to remove all doubt about just who our "neighbor" really is.
The Jewish people did not like the Samaritans. They inserted religious laws into God's Word to keep themselves separate from the Samaritans. However, this was a Samaritan who took pity on a fellow human being who had been left for dead on the road and he gave no thought to who the man was as he helped him in his trouble. This guy definitely did not live next door to the Samaritan who had mercy on him. In fact, they lived totally segregated lives. They became neighbors because one man needed the other man's help. According to Christ, we are to "go and do likewise." Those who should have helped one of their own did not want to get involved, passed right by him and ignored his need. Both who walked past were supposedly men of God. For whatever reasons they sought to justify this ungodly behavior, it did not please God.
God created us all and He loves us all and He wants us all to love each other. Yet, even today we live in a world where discrimination often overrules compassion. Jesus did not hang on that cross and point to certain people He would die to save. He gave His life for everyone. We may not ever be called to lay down our lives for someone else, but we will require God's mercy in one way or another at some point in our lives. As believers in Jesus Christ, we cannot withhold our mercy from someone who needs our help. God did not cross the street to avoid "getting involved" when He realized our need of His mercy. He sent His only Son to save us.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 1 John 3:16-17 NIV