It is written, “After careful consideration, Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he fell into the hands of bandits. They stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. By chance, a priest was traveling along that road. When he saw the man, he went by on the other side. Similarly, a descendant of Levi came to that place. When he saw the man, he also went by on the other side. But as he was traveling along, a Samaritan came across the man. When the Samaritan saw him, he was moved with compassion. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. 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 and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If you spend more than that, I’ll repay you when I come back.’ “Of these three men, who do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the bandits?” He said, “The one who showed mercy to him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do what he did,” (Luke 10:30-37, ISV).
When the experts of religious law asked Jesus how he could have life everlasting, Jesus replied with a simple question, what does the old laws teach? The man then went on to quote Deuteronomy chapter 6 (you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind. And you must love your neighbor as yourself). Then the expert of religious law even took it a step further and asked Jesus who his neighbor was. When hearing this man’s reply, Jesus told him the parable of the good Samaritan that I shared with you all today.
There is a lot of life applications to this parable if you read it closely. To the bandits in the world, they exploited and hurt vulnerable people. To the priest, this hurt man was an object to avoid. To the temple assistant, the man lying on the road was a mere object of curiosity and never meant to help. However, to the hated Samaritan treated the vulnerable man with true love. Now, which one of these people are you?
This story embodies the basic principles of loving your neighbor. When reading this parable, I have developed three main points I would like to share with everyone today. First, it is extremely easy to justify not helping someone in need, and this is never the right thing to do. Secondly, our neighbors are not just the people we know or have been raised around. Our neighbor is every human being in this world regardless of their race or religion. Just because someone has different beliefs than you does not mean that you cannot show them love and mercy. Lastly, to truly love someone, you need to act when they are in need. There is never a good reason to not help someone in need. If you fail to do this, you have failed to love your neighbor in the eyes of the Lord.
Now applying this principle is easy in theory and may even be easy for some (at least they will say that). However, I have seen too many Christians walk by someone that was hurt and vulnerable. The justification they tell themselves is something like “someone else will help them.” But what if God put you there to help that person in need? What if God was testing you to see if you would honor Him?
There are many reasons why you can justify not helping someone but Jesus teaches us one simple reason to help those in need. That reason is that it honors our Heavenly Father. There should be nothing else said after this simple lesson Jesus was teaching those religious experts. That very lesson applies to our everyday lives.
Now that we have identified our neighbor because of Jesus’ parable, go forth and help them like Jesus commanded the expert of religious laws to do. Jesus was not teaching this parable so people can wait to help someone when the time comes. He was teaching us to go and cross the road! Seek out those who are hurt, and show them love and compassion when others just walk away. Simply stated, if you were hurt and vulnerable, wouldn’t you want someone to help you as the good Samaritan did in Jesus’ parable?