“And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“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.”
Just before the scene we read about in this passage occurred, an expert in Jewish law asked Jesus how to inherit eternal life. In typical rabbinical fashion, Jesus responded with a question, “What is written in the Law… How do you read it?” Jesus told the expert he was correct when he answered that the two greatest commandments were to love God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and to love your neighbor as yourself. But there was still some uncertainty so the expert asked, “Who is my neighbor?” Or, perhaps stated another way, “how far is my love supposed to extend?” Jesus’ story of the Samaritan, a people group hated by the Jewish people at that time, not only answered the question the expert asked, but also depicted what love looks like—stopping, engaging, and showing compassion through action no matter who it is that’s in need, even an enemy, and no matter the cost or the amount of disruption.
What stands out to you most in this story of the Good Samaritan? Why?
Reflect on a time someone who needed help was on your path to work, an appointment, or a lunch or dinner date. Who was it? What was their need? What was your response?
What hesitations, fears, or questions come to mind as you think about engaging with someone in need the way the Samaritan engaged with the man on the side of the road? Present whatever arises in you to God and ask him to help you understand and process what you’re feeling.
God, I want to be someone who acts with compassion in every circumstance and who will stop to help anyone in need whatever the cost or time commitment. Forgive me for the times I have walked by, absorbed in my own agenda, tasks, and responsibilities. Open my eyes to see the hurting and needy along my path and engage with them in love and with sacrificial compassion. Give me an opportunity to love my neighbor as I love myself. Amen.