Bible Topics In The Christian Library
"But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"" (Luke 10:29)
The is the statement that a certain lawyer of the Law asked Jesus, after he was challenged by Jesus to "love your neighbor as yourself." He had come testing him, i.e. trying to trick Jesus into saying something that could be used against him. He had hoped to get Jesus to elevate one commandment above another in the Law of Moses. Instead, Jesus turned the question around to him by asking, "What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?" (verse 26). The lawyer gave the correct answer: to love God completely and to love oneís neighbor as himself. It was at this point that the lawyer added the question, "And who is my neighbor?" 

This is a question that has been asked in different ways throughout the centuries. Cain, in essence, said the same thing when he asked God, "Am I my brother's keeper?" (Genesis 4:9) This type of attitude seeks to excuse a greedy and selfish attitude toward others. 

Look at the parable that Jesus told. A man traveled down the Jericho Road, a most dangerous place for travelers. Thieves regularly lurked on the road to attack unsuspecting travelers. Jesus said that the man was attacked on the road, robbed, and then left for dead. Jesus tells us about two individuals who saw the injured man and did not help. One of the men was a priest and the other was a Levite. 

Why did these two religious men refuse to help a man who was in desperate need? The Lord doesnít tell us the reasons. There are several possible reasons. Perhaps they reasoned that they were engaged in important religious work and thus not responsible for the injured man. Perhaps they were afraid that the thieves were still closeby. Perhaps they simply were in a hurry and thought that they didnít have time to stop. Whatever the reason they left a man bleeding and badly injured and went on their way. 

And then there was the Samaritan. The very fact that he was a Samaritan probably startled those who were listening to Jesus. They were the outcasts of Jewish society, hated by all. But he took the time, and the potential risks, to stop and care for this man in need. He went beyond what anyone would expect by caring for the manís wounds, placing him on his animal, taking him to an inn and paying for his room until he recovered. 

Then Jesus turned the question on the lawyer. "So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?" (verse 36) The lawyer was forced to admit, "He who showed mercy on him." Jesus then said, "Go and do likewise." (verse 37). 

Sometimes we get so involved in "religion" that we forget that we have an obligation toward others. The whole essence of religion, James tells us, is to show compassion on those hurting and keep morally pure (James 1:27). Who is my neighbor? Any person who is hurting. Any person in need. Anyone who needs the saving news of salvation. Jesus tells us that if we love and show compassion on only those who are our friends we really are not doing what God desires. "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?" (Matthew 5:46-47) 

Do you know someone who is hurting in their soul? Try to help them with healing. Do you know someone who is hungry? Do what you can to feed them. Do you know someone who is outside of Christ and lost? Show them the saving message of salvation. Remember, every human being in need is our neighbor. Do you love your neighbor? (Matthew 19:19). 

Copyright 1999 by Grady Scott may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no cost to others.

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