You’ve often heard Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan — but do you know why He told it? A religious lawyer had just asked Him, “Who is my neighbor?” And Jesus answered by telling this story.
While traveling a dangerous road from Jerusalem to Jericho, a man was mugged by thieves — beaten, stripped, robbed and left for dead. Along came a priest, considered most holy among the Jews. Yet seeing the horribly wounded man, the priest’s reaction was, “Man, I want nothing to do with him!” Next came a Levite — the second most sacred occupation — who thought, “I don’t want to get involved!”
But then came a Samaritan. Now the Jews hated and snubbed Samaritans because they practiced a perverted version of Judaism.
Yet when this despised Samaritan saw the injured traveler, he had compassion! He bandaged him, put him on his donkey, took him to an inn and tended to his needs overnight, then paid the innkeeper a good sum of his own money to care for him!
After telling this story, Jesus rephrased the lawyer’s own question to ask, Who was that man’s neighbor? The lawyer — who couldn’t even bring himself to say the word “Samaritan” — replied,
“‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Then Jesus said, ‘Yes, now go and do the same’” (Luke 10:37b)
In today’s busy world, it’s easy to be like the priest and the Levite. Many hesitate to help the suffering because they don’t want to take time out of their hectic schedules, or they’re afraid to get their hands dirty. But Jesus says our neighbor is anyone who has a need, anywhere we find him or her. When we see someone who is suffering and we can help, He says, “Love your neighbor as yourself!”
After all, if we were living in affliction and poverty, we’d be crying out, “Oh Lord, please send somebody to help me!” Therefore, if we want it done for us, we should do it for others. That definitely expands our definition of “neighbor!”
© Copyright Pat Robertson