The Parable of the Good Samaritan
“And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” (Luke 10:25-28 ESV)
Like most of us, the lawyer totally missed the point. “But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?'”(Luke 10:29 ESV). Whoops. We are given a hint right there, at the beginning. How did we miss it? The lawyer was try to “justify himself.” We can’t do that folks. Anytime we try to justify ourselves, we fall flat on our face. It’s impossible in a theological/eternal sense. We are all sinners. There is no justification for us. We only have Jesus to cling to and our hope that He knows us when we are judged.
But I digress. The point is that the lawyer asks the wrong question. It’s not just wrong it’s upside down wrong. So Jesus is forced to tell this famous parable. If you have ever been to church, you have probably heard it. You would be hard pressed to not have ever heard a version of this story or a reference to it at least. If you have forgotten, the gist is that a couple “holy men” see a man beaten near death on the side of the road but for personal reasons, avoid helping him. Then an undesirable Samaritan comes across this same injured man and he helps him and provides lodging for him.
The sermon then follows about how those “holy men” were hypocrites for not helping the injured man. The good guy in the story is obviously the common man who stopped to help the near dead stranger. We are then to judge ourselves concerning what we would do. Are we hypocrites like the first two men, or do we help the needy? Ans that’s all well and good. It’s good to help needy people. The sermon comes o so close to the point of the story but gets sidetracked by the details.
The point of the story is given to us at the end of the lesson. I say “lesson” because that is what this is. Jesus had a teachable moment here and He ran with it. I might share His classic lesson style used in this lesson some other time but, cutting to the chase, let’s skip to the assessment at the end:
Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” (Luke 10:36-37 ESV)
That Samaritan was a really good guy. Yep. I get it. It’s good to do good stuff for people. Don’t be a hypocrite and attend church on Sunday and then not do good, Christiany things during the week. Got it. Those messages get almooooost to the point but quit just as they are reaching the proverbial finish line. The thing is that it’s not as simple as all that. Jesus doesn’t say go and be nice to people. He doesn’t say go act neighborly so people won’t think you are a hypocritical, Sunday only Christian.
Look at the simple question. “Who is my neighbor?” The previous bit flew right over this lawyer’s head. WRONG QUESTION Sparky. With that question, the closest we are going to get to the truth is “everyone is my neighbor.” And you are probably asking, “What’s wrong with that?” Nothing as far as it goes. Jesus flips the question on its head when he gives the answer at the end. “Who was the neighbor?” “The guy who helped the other guy.” “Go do that kind of stuff.”
The proper question is not “Who is my neighbor?” The question is “How can I be a neighbor?” Don’t judge the other person. Don’t worry about the possible ramifications of doing the right thing. The question is NOT who is the other guy. The question is “WHO ARE YOU?”
That’s an example of how to not just show love, but to be loving. It’s an attitude shift. I don’t believe it’s about finding causes and working to rectify them (Not that that is not a worthy enterprise by any means), or looking for people to help as much as being a neighbor. Being loving. Doing what is right to and for all people all day long, everywhere we go from the time we wake up until the time we go to bed. Love is not a noun. It’s not even a verb. It’s an attitude, a state of being.
Feel free to Comment and don’t forget to share.