Learning the life-changing meaning of being a good neighbor
We live in volatile times. Justifiable demonstrations about justifiable concerns are overshadowed and even hijacked by those who simply seek anarchy and overthrow. We are descending into a tribal approach to our issues. If you do not agree with my perspective and my group, then you are considered a bigoted outsider who deserves to be shunned and put down. As sad as this is, it is nothing new. Back in Jesus' day, similar issues existed and even served as standards for living! Fortunately for us, Jesus spoke a simple story about the Good Samaritan that shook this unholy standard to its very core. His story was a response to the simple question, who is my neighbor? It seems vitally appropriate that we relisten and relearn the lessons Jesus’ simple story of the Good Samaritan.
Everyone knows the basic story of The Good Samaritan. He is a guy who, while traveling on the road, comes across a Jewish man who has been robbed and beaten. The Samaritan rescues him by taking him to a nearby inn, caring for him through the night and paying for his care for another two days. If that were the whole story, it would be a wonderful and inspiring reminder of what human compassion looks like. But there was more to this story – much more.
A deeper agenda
A lawyer stimulated Jesus to tell this story. He asks Jesus about the Jewish Law, and Jesus replies with scripturally supported clarity. But the lawyer is not satisfied, as he seems to have a deeper agenda than just conversing about the loftiness of the Law. He is the one who asks Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Because Jesus sees a deviousness in this lawyer’s questioning, he answers him by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan.
Samaritans and Jews
In Jesus’ day, the Samaritan people and the Jewish people were very much at odds with one another. Even though they shared the same heritage, each looked upon the other with disdain. The two peoples had major differences along political, religious and moral lines. One Bible commentator reported that if a Samaritan man even touched a Jewish man, he would seek the nearest body of water to jump into for cleansing! Jesus spoke this parable because of the lawyer’s question. He framed the characters in the story to draw his audience into the drama. The meaning of this story is profound, for it shows a Samaritan man treating his cultural enemy as he would treat his friend.
Check out our August 10, 2020 podcast, “Do I Treat You as My Neighbor?” for more! We delve into the details of all the little things the Samaritan did to become a humble hero. We examine the reactions of other Jewish men who passed by the beaten man before the Samaritan got there. Most importantly, we assemble and dwell on the lessons of what it means to be a neighbor to our fellow human beings. This simple story of compassion can serve as a gentle yet jarring wake-up call. Who is YOUR neighbor?
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