Luke 10:25-37 (NRSV)
Verse 25Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he said, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Verse 26He said to him, "What is written in the law? What do you read there?" Verse 27He 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." Verse 28And he said to him, "You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live." Verse 29But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Verse 30Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Verse 31Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Verse 32So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. Verse 33But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. Verse 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. Verse 35The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, 'Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.' Verse 36Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?" Verse 37He said, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."
The lawyer asked, “And who is my neighbor?”
It is interesting that in Jesus’ story the victim of the assault is not identified. Beaten, unconscious, stripped of clothing, there is no way of knowing if he was rich or poor, master or slave, even what nationality he was. He is simply identified as someone in need of help. The needy is anyone in that position—whether it is the one next door or around the world.
But being “neighbor” is not just doing the right thing—but being the right thing. At the end of the parable Jesus asks the question: “Which of these was a neighbor? The lawyer quickly responds, “The one who showed mercy.” To which Jesus immediately responds, “Go and do likewise.”
God has addressed our needs in Jesus—mending our broken lives by showing us mercy. Now forgiven and restored, we are called to show love to others—even to those we might not like or think undeserving—guided only by the concern that they are in need of help.
Help us, Dear Lord, to be a neighbor to all people. Amen.