How would you answer the question, “Who is your neighbor?”
When Jesus was on earth people tried to argue with him all the time. They were constantly trying to make him say something wrong and prove that he wasn’t as smart as he seemed. One time a “lawyer” (a man who knew the laws of God very well) came to Jesus and challenged him with this conversation:
Luke 10:25-29. 25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
The conversation went like this:
Lawyer: Hey Jesus, how do I get eternal life?
Jesus: You’re the lawyer, you tell me.
Lawyer: I think the law says that to have eternal life you have to love God and love your neighbor.
Jesus: Great answer. Do that and you will live forever in heaven.
Lawyer: But who is my neighbor?
And then to answer that question – Who is my neighbor – Jesus told the “Good Samaritan” story. Have you ever heard of the Good Samaritan? Now remember, the Jewish people and the Samaritan people hated each other. So the Good Samaritan story that Jesus told is pretty shocking.
Jesus said, “Once upon a time there was a Jewish man that was robbed and beaten very badly on his way home from the city of Jerusalem. A Jewish priest and a Jewish Levite both refused to stop and help the injured and penniless man. But then a Samaritan man came along and stopped to help the Jewish man. He bandaged his wounds, put him in a hotel, bought him food and medicine, and took care of him until he was well.”
And then Jesus asked, “Which of these people was a good neighbor?” And of course the answer is the Samaritan.
But “be a good Samaritan” is not Jesus’ point. Remember, the Jewish lawyer came to Jesus asking what to DO to go to heaven. But then when Jesus told the story it was the Jewish man who got beaten up and was unable to DO anything without help. You see, Jesus’ point was that we all need a Good Samaritan to rescue us because none of us can DO enough good things to go to heaven. None of us will ever love God enough. None of us will ever love our neighbor enough.
And that’s why each of us has to admit that we will never be good enough and then simply receive the love of Jesus, the Great Samaritan who loves us and takes care of us no matter what.
Because of Jesus we will always be loved and taken care of.
With Jesus we can love and take care of others too.
DO SOMETHING TOGETHER
Here’s a good re-telling of the Good Samaritan story.
Make sure to talk to your children about how we can be like the Good Samaritan, but also about how we are all like the Jewish man who was robbed by bandits and NEEDED the Good Samaritan. Jesus is our Good Samaritan.
You saved me when I could never save myself. You are my Good Samaritan. Thank you!
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