During the conquest of the northern kingdom of Israel, the remnants of Jews that were left behind intermingled with their conquerors, the Assyrians. Being half Jew and half Gentile, they became known as the Samaritans.
They were a mix of foreign pagans and unscrupulous Jewish people. So, they were naturally hated by many. In the eyes of the Israelites, Samaritans were worse than Gentiles. In this passage of Scripture, Jesus tells us the story of the Good Samaritan, someone who was far better morally than many of the Jews that He spoke to.
This expert lawyer was asking Jesus how he could inherit eternal life. Jesus then asks him what is written in the law.
In verse 27, the lawyer quotes from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. Jesus tells him that he is correct and that the lawyer should follow the Scripture (Leviticus 18:5; Nehemiah 9:29; Ezekiel 20:11; Romans 10:5).
Now, this lawyer was not the type of lawyer we see in a judicial system. He was however an interpreter of the Mosaic Law. So, in some way, he was a lawyer. But I do not think that I would want him representing me in court. But instead of the lawyer being honest, the lawyer tried to justify himself (Luke 16:15) by asking, “And who is my neighbor?”
The Story of the Good Samaritan
The lawyer regarded the injured man as a subject for conversation; the thieves, as an item to take advantage of; the priest, as an issue to keep away from (Psalm 38:11); and the Levite, as an object of interest. Just the Samaritan regarded him as an individual to love, which at the time was unheard of (John 4:9).
The lawyer represents human law. The thieves represent lawlessness. The priest represents religion. The Levite represents works. But the Samaritan represents grace. How many of us have obtained grace but fail to show it?
From the story we learn three standards about loving our neighbor:
1. Absence of affection is regularly simple to legitimize, despite the fact that it is rarely correct.
2. Our neighbor is anybody of any race, creed, sex, religion, or social foundation who stands in need of something.
3. Love implies acting to address the issue. In any place that we live, there are individuals nearby that are in need. There is nothing but bad reasoning in declining to help.
There was profound scorn between the Jews and Samaritans. The Jews considered themselves to be the pure and unadulterated descendants of Abraham, while the Samaritans were a blended race that came from when the Jews from the Northern Kingdom intermarried with different people groups after the exile of Israel.
To this lawyer, the individual most drastically averse to act accurately would be the Samaritan. Truth be told, he was unable to bear to say "Samaritan" in response to the question that Jesus asked in verse 36. The lawyer’s disposition showed his absence of affection, which he had previously said was commanded by the Law.
So how does this help us to understand who our neighbor is? This story has a reasonable application for us today. Any individual that we can help is our neighbor. It does not imply that the main individual living nearby to us is our neighbor.
Individuals need Christ, the Good Samaritan. You can watch any Christian television network, and there is and has been a lot of talking about sharing the gospel with the world. But what are we truly doing to ensure that people know who Jesus Christ is?
Who Is My Neighbor?
I was walking my dog Lucien through our neighborhood one day last June. On an adjoining street, there was a man in his driveway, and it looked like he was preparing to do some yard work. He said hello and asked how I was doing.
For some reason, I told him of my upcoming surgery to remove a tumor on my right kidney. The doctors had found a mass and thought it to be cancerous. The man prayed for me right there in his driveway. Needless to say, the people at our church had been praying for me as well, but it felt different having a complete stranger pray for me.
Why do I mention this about my issue with cancer, which God healed me of? The point I want to make is that I believe the Lord led him to pray over his neighbor. We did not know each other, but we do now. It did not nor does not matter the color of skin that we have.
It does not matter what branch of the military that we served in. Nor does it matter what church that we attend. What man may consider as something that may divide us, we are neighbors, and not just because we live in the same neighborhood.
Regardless of where we go, someone that we meet who may be in need is our neighbor. It could be at a gas station, in the check-out line at a grocery store. Someone at our place of employment may need our help.
We may not have the financial means to do something grand for someone else. We may not have the item that someone stands in need of. But what is the condition of our heart?
Look back at verse 30, the thieves that fell upon this man. They had greed and lawlessness in their hearts. They took from this man to fill their covetousness. Do any of us that profess to be Christians fall into this category?
What about the priest in verse 31? You would think that this professed man of God would have compassion but no, he had religion. He had ritualism. This injured man was not his concern.
What about the Levite in verse 32? He was a worker and helping this injured man was not in his job description. Why not? The Levite came over and looked at the man out of curiosity.
Did he even contemplate that he could have helped him? I think the Levite thought that he just did not want to waste his time. Maybe he was too busy and helping this man was not important enough. But when the Samaritan, in verse 33, came upon the injured man, he had compassion in his heart, and he did what he could to help him.
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 7:12).
Do to others as you would have them do to you (Luke 6:31).
Why Do Our Neighbors Matter?
This is often referred to as the Golden Rule. Why do I mention this? Put yourself in the shoes of this injured man. Would you not want someone to help you if you had fallen into similar circumstances?
No doubt many of us have been in need of some type of help at one point in time in our lives. Did pride keep us from asking for help or did pride keep us from giving help to someone? What keeps us from helping our neighbors? The condition of our heart. Who is our neighbor? Anyone that we meet that is in need.
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Chris Swanson answered the call into the ministry over 20 years ago. He has served as a Sunday School teacher, a youth director along with his wife, a music director, an associate pastor, and an interim pastor. He is a retired Navy Chief Hospital Corpsman with over 30 years of combined active and reserve service. You can check out his work here.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
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