An expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” 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 given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”
But wanting to vindicate himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and took off, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came upon him, and when he saw him he was moved with compassion.
He went to him and bandaged his wounds, treating them with oil and wine. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The 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.’
Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
Greetings Favored Ones!
How well do you know your neighbors today? Or maybe the question is, “Do you know your neighbors?” For me, I would have to say not really. I mean I have “driveway chats” with the next-door neighbors in the condominium complex where I live. We have identified a “Karen” across the street who polices, on her own, the visitor parking spaces. We have a Facebook page where we can post items of interest to our neighbors. We have an annual Homeowners Association meeting, where no one knows anyone, and we did not even have a time of introduction!
It’s so different from how I grew up in the Cul-de-Sac of my youth. Don’t you all have the same memories?? We knew each other in the neighborhoods where we grew up! We went in and out of each other’s homes and the neighbors knew each other well. It was a different world back then, as today we keep to ourselves.
So, then, how would you answer this lawyer’s second question in the Gospel lesson for this week? From the 10th chapter of Luke, we have the famous story of the good Samaritan, one that we have heard before and know very well! The lawyer comes to Jesus asking what he must do to have eternal life. Jesus gives what we call the “Great Commandment” to 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. (10:27)
The lawyer has a follow up question, just to be clear. He asks, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus goes on to tell the good Samaritan story and invites the lawyer (and us today) to go and show mercy as a good neighbor.
I believe we are called to think about this question in the larger circle of our lives. Our “neighbor” is not just who lives next door or comes to the HOA meetings. Our neighbor is anyone around us. It is the stranger at the restaurant, the co-worker, the friend, the family member and most certainly the person sitting near you at church!
Think about these neighbors as lying on the side of the road “injured” in their sin! (Romans 3:23, “All have sinned”) The way we can show mercy is to invite them to make a VDC weekend! We can sponsor them! Bring them to the weekend, arrange palanca, the whole 9 yards! Except many of us are too busy to ask, and then do the follow thru. It’s easier not to offer, it’s easier not to ask our neighbor to come make a weekend.
But God is never for what’s “easy” but for what is sometimes hard. When we don’t have time is exactly when God will bring someone to mind. All we must do is remember the “neighbor” who asked us to attend a weekend. And, as we thank God for them, we in turn can ask someone else. It only takes a minute to reach out in love to invite someone to come and make their weekend!
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus is telling the story and in verse 33 talks about what happened to the Good Samaritan. “But a Samaritan while traveling came upon the injured man, and when he saw him, he was moved with compassion!” Come on, friends, let’s be moved with compassion, and reach out to others and invite! God loves you and so do I!
Pastor Doug Givan
INKY Spiritual Director
NLS SD 2008-201
Eric is our current Webmaster and works on the NLS Communications Team. Raised in Judaism, he found Christ and the New Testament at age 16 in a Southern Baptist Church. He searched many denominations for the real church, only to find the Holy Spirit is present in all of them. He's worked for One for Israel, a group of native Israeli believers who are sharing the gospel in the holy land in Hebrew and is part of the only Hebrew speaking seminary in Israel.