Who’s the Good Neighbor?

Luke 10:25-37–
25. And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
26 . He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
27. And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
28. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
29. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
30. And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
31. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
33. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
34. And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
36. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
37. And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

Do you realize Jesus doesn’t answer the lawyer’s question about who his neighbor is? We get sidetracked on that one.

Look what Jesus really tells the man after He tells the story. He asks who is the better neighbor. He doesn’t ask the lawyer to identify who his neighbor is.

The lawyer answers that the neighborly one is the one who showed mercy.

Jesus told him he should go do the same. “Mr. lawyer, you go be the good neighbor.”

Jesus discouraged the lawyer from following the example of the priest and Levite–both religious men. Learn from their negative example. Don’t be like them.

Instead, He told him to be like someone he would ordinarily dislike.

The Jews despised the Samaritans. Yet here was Jesus telling the lawyer to act like the Samaritan in the parable. Show compassion on someone in need.

This is a lesson for us. Show mercy and compassion. You be the neighbor. Don’t worry about who your neighbor is.

And, like the lawyer, don’t overlook what we can learn from those we might otherwise not want to associate with.

But to put all of this in perspective, let’s not forget another part of the exchange between Jesus and the lawyer. Keep the greatest commandment–to love the Lord with all your soul and strength.

We can’t keep His commandments if we don’t love Him.