During Jesus' life and ministry on the Earth, He traveled to many different places teaching all kinds of people about God's love and how He wants us to act. One thing Jesus often used to teach was short stories.
Today we are going to talk about loving our neighbor. Luke 10 says that one day a very smart man who was not wanting to learn from Jesus, but was trying to trick Him, asked: "Teacher, what should I do to live forever?”
Jesus replied "What does the law say? What do you think it means?"
The man then quoted the Law of Moses "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself."
And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
The man took his questioning one step further and asked Jesus "And who is my neighbor?"
The man probably thought that Jesus would say that his neighbor was his fellow Jew, someone like him. Instead of a quick answer, Jesus took the opportunity to tell a story. A story that many know as The Good Samaritan.
To understand why Jesus told this particular story you need to know how the Jews felt about the Samaritans. The Jews hated the Samaritans, they saw them as less than and would do anything to avoid being near one. Read the story of the Good Samaritan below and take a moment, at the end, to think about who we should consider as our neighbor.
“A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down 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.
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. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.
Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 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.
The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins,[fn] telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’
Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.
The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”
Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.” “Luke 10:30-37
How do you think the man reacted when Jesus told this story? He and the other Jews who heard would have been shocked! How could their enemy be the one that helped the man that had been left for dead?
Jesus did not say you only have to have compassion for the people that look like you, dress like you or talk like you. He wants us to have compassion for all people! We can all be like the good Samaritan when we do not discriminate against others based on where they are from or what they look like but show God’s love and mercy to everyone!