A true disciple of Jesus won’t simply understand biblical truth; we must put what we are taught into action. One day, a lawyer, an expert in Jewish tradition, posed a question to Jesus: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” His question was meant as a test.
Jesus asked the man, who was very familiar with Jewish law, to answer his own question. The scribe responded by quoting part of the Shema (Deuteronomy 6). The Jews daily recited this call to love God fully. He also quoted Leviticus 19:18, a call to love one’s neighbor as oneself.
Jesus commended this answer, but the lawyer wanted more. He wanted to justify his actions. He asked who Jesus considered to be a neighbor. The Sirach, a Jewish book of wisdom, told readers not to help sinners, so the lawyer wanted distinction between “neighbors” and “non-neighbors.”
In response, Jesus told a story. A man was traveling on the treacherous road from Jericho to Jerusalem. This 17-mile journey was well known for danger. Thieves hid in caves, attacked the man, and left him for dead. A priest and a Levite came down the road. The lawyer would have expected them to be the heroes. But they both passed by on the other side. Perhaps they were afraid of becoming unclean by touching a corpse. Their motive is not mentioned.
Then came the Samaritan—a “non-neighbor” in the lawyer’s eyes. Jesus’ description of the Samaritan’s care consists of a long string of action upon action. His was a lavish act of love. Jesus then asked a simple question: Which one was a neighbor? The scribe couldn’t even say, “The Samaritan.” He only answered, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told the man, “Go and do likewise” (v. 37).
>> Most of us struggle to put love into action. It is easy with the “neighbors” we like. It is much more difficult with those who challenge us. Ask God to soften your heart so you can love your neighbor today.
Toward those in our lives who seem unworthy of respect, compassion, or consideration, give us Your supernatural love. Humble us to extend to them the same grace and forgiveness You have lavished on us.