Monday, April 4, 2011


Wouldn’t you think the family of deer pictured here would be nicer to each other? That’s the puzzle about relationships. Sometimes we humans quickly change from the feeling of love and closeness to that of anger, spite, or disgust. The biblical example of the Good Samaritan offers us a good example to follow. Jesus IS our example. May this week offer you opportunity to meditate on the lessons in His parable.


Who is Our Neighbor?

I have new neighbors, a friendly, young couple whom I intend to get to know better. Their political views may be different, their religious affiliation may not match mine, and their lifestyle surely varies because of our age difference. But none of that matters. They’re my neighbors. That means as a follower of Christ, I must offer them my love.

Jesus’ parable about the Good Samaritan talks about neighbors. Not much is said about the victim in the story, the man stripped and beaten by robbers. Did he, like his attackers, have evil intentions against someone? According to society, did he deserve to be rescued?

The priest and Levite in Jesus’ story walked by the victim without offering to help because they had much at stake. Their law demanded that they not touch a bleeding man. Doing so would have required submitting to a long process of ritual cleansing, taking time away from their duties and leisure.

The Samaritan, however, provided extraordinary care. He didn’t question the victim, but simply acted on a need without counting the cost. He bound the man’s wounds, using his own oil and wine. He set the man on his own donkey, probably choosing to walk, and took him to an inn. He stayed with the man all night, probably losing sleep because of his moaning. If all that wasn’t enough, he even used his own money to pay for the man’s stay and told the owner he’d make up any required difference when he returned.

Would you or I go to such lengths to help someone we didn’t know? Consider the lengths Jesus went to for our sake. He suffered a cruel, undeserved death on the cross to rescue us from sin, dis-ease, and eternal death. How can we not respond to the needs of others after receiving Jesus’ extraordinary rescue of us? To our neighbor who we may not think deserves help? To the person who may differ in political or religious views? Who may speak abrasively? Who may be ungrateful and contrary?

Jesus asked the lawyer, who set out to trick Him with the question, “Who is my neighbor?”, “Which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” When the lawyer answered correctly that it was the merciful Samaritan, Jesus simply said, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:36-37)

Lord, may Your love overflow in us so much that we, like the Good Samaritan, will be compelled to go and do likewise, without counting the cost of our time, reputation, and money. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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