LUKE 10:25-42 WHO ACTED AS A NEIGHBOR?
Bible Background: Luke 10 is the chapter after Jesus ‘sets his face to go to Jerusalem’. This section is special to Luke (meaning that Matthew and Mark do not have this series of stories). Jesus has sent the 70 on their mission; he has found examples of faith and of faithlessness. The parable of the Good Samaritan is one of the most familiar of all Bible stories!
Digging Deeper: 1. The scene starts where an expert in the religious law asks a question “to test Jesus”. It’s a question this religious lawyer knows the answer to, but perhaps wants to match wits with Jesus over. The two “great commandments” are: Love the Lord your God…and love your neighbor as yourself. Broadly speaking, those cover just about every aspect of the Christian life!
2. Now this man, “seeking to justify himself” asks “and who is my neighbor?” He seems bent on drawing a clear line between who he is obligated to love as a neighbor, and who he is not. (Life does seem simpler when we have a clear list of “do’s and don’ts”.) That’s when Jesus tells this parable.
3. A parable is a story from daily life, that often turns conventional wisdom upside down! In this parable, a victim of crime and brutality is left for dead. That’s all we know about him. Two religious Jewish passers-by avoid the victim. A man from Samaria (whom the Jews considered to be ‘half-breeds’ and undesirable), sees the man’s predicament, comes near to help, applies first aid, takes him to a place of shelter, and pays for his care. A Jewish audience would likely cringe at the thought that the hero is this Samaritan!
4. Jesus’ final question is the key one: “which of these three was a neighbor to the man who fell among robbers?” The answer is obvious. Jesus makes the point: “Go and do like this Samaritan!”
5. Especially in Luke’s gospel, we see Jesus reaching out to “outsiders” (Gentiles). Here, an outsider is the living example of what it means to love your neighbor. When has an ‘outsider’ been a blessing in your life? What have they taught you?
6. Currently, we live in a climate that is wary of outsiders. (This is really nothing new, it’s just more pronounced in these topsy turvy times.) What might God be trying to teach us through outsiders? Who are we called to be neighbors to? What does that require of us? How can we blur the line between ‘us’ and ‘them’?