Luke 10:36-37 – “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.” NIV
Jesus concludes the Parable of the Good Samaritan with this question. He told the parable in response to an expert in the Law’s question, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus didn’t directly answer the man’s question, but asked him to draw his own conclusion from the parable. I think that sometimes Jesus asks us to draw our own conclusions from what is written and how it is acted out in life. Many times the answer is surprising to us as it appears to be surprising to this expert in the Law. Jesus had just related a story in which the hero was a Samaritan. Most devout Jews despised Samaritans for a variety of reasons including their mixed ethnicity, their separation from the Davidic Kingdom, their acceptance of only the Torah as Scripture, and their mixture of pagan elements into worship of Yahweh. A devout Jew just wouldn’t expect a Samaritan to fulfill the requirements of the Law by loving his neighbor as himself. Yet this Samaritan in the story did! When answering Jesus’ question, the Jew couldn’t even bring himself to say “the Samaritan.” He would not even allow his tongue to say the word! His response was correct, yet it concealed the hatred that he had in his heart for a group of people.
Jesus told the man to “Go and do likewise.” Go love others as this Samaritan had done. As one encounters hurting people on life’s path, show them a self-giving love and concern. Do this no matter who they are. Love them like God loves them. Remember Jesus is the one who told us, “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven…” (Matthew 5:44-45a – NIV)
As we journey through life, we will encounter people who behave quite differently than we anticipate that they will behave based on our prejudices and preconceived ideas about people. Lovers of others come in all sorts shapes and sizes. Perhaps some people are good lovers of others, and haven’t yet come to follow Jesus. How will we respond to them?
Some questions to consider: How am I doing at loving my neighbors as myself? Are there neighbors I find it difficult to love? Why? Are there people from whom I expect the worst and am surprised when I see the best? What is my next step in learning to love others like God loves me?