READ : Luke 10:25-37
Who is my neighbor? (v. 29)
Luke’s “universal-gospel” theme colors several of the parables of Jesus, not least the familiar story of the Good Samaritan. It has not one but three stings in its tail.
First a shock. Jewish people with a dislike of the religious establishment probably smiled sourly at the self-serving priest and Levite, and assumed that Jesus would go on to contrast these two with a Jewish layperson like themselves. But a Samaritan! I may dislike hypocritical religious leaders, but everybody dislikes Samaritans.
Then a challenge. Note what the Samaritan did, for those who are to “inherit eternal life” will do the same sort of thing. But this kind of good deed is not particularly difficult, is it? Thousands of people send checks to charities and reckon they are being Good Samaritans.
The greater challenge of the parable is often missed. The question that led directly into it was not about “love” but about “neighbor”: “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus turned it back on the questioner: “Who was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” And the answer came, “The one who showed him mercy.” The man couldn’t bring himself to utter the name. For that neighbor was the hated Samaritan; and you are to love your neighbor. Even if—especially if—you regard him as a rank outsider.
Show us today’s opportunities both to imitate the Samaritan and to love him.