“Which one of these three was a neighbor?”

Posted Oct 12, 2021

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Daily Scripture

Luke 10:30-37

30 Jesus replied, “A man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. He encountered thieves, who stripped him naked, beat him up, and left him near death. 31 Now it just so happened that a priest was also going down the same road. When he saw the injured man, he crossed over to the other side of the road and went on his way. 32 Likewise, a Levite came by that spot, saw the injured man, and crossed over to the other side of the road and went on his way. 33 A Samaritan, who was on a journey, came to where the man was. But when he saw him, he was moved with compassion. 34 The Samaritan went to him and bandaged his wounds, tending them with oil and wine. Then he placed the wounded man on his own donkey, took him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day, he took two full days’ worth of wages and gave them to the innkeeper. He said, ‘Take care of him, and when I return, I will pay you back for any additional costs.’ 36 What do you think? Which one of these three was a neighbor to the man who encountered thieves?”

37 Then the legal expert said, “The one who demonstrated mercy toward him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Reflection Questions

Jesus created a story in which two high-level religious leaders totally ignored (for unstated reasons) the plight of a man beaten, robbed and left lying in the road. Then Jesus imagined a character who turned things upside down. He pictured a Samaritan (people Israelites in his day viewed in about the same way as many of them regard Palestinians today) who showed abundant kindness and caring.

  • The Samaritan in the story didn’t just offer casual short-term help. He put the injured man on “his own donkey” (so he had to walk), brought him to an inn, cared for him, paid for ongoing care, and offered to pay more on his return if needed. How did Jesus' hypothetical Samaritan reflect God’s vast generosity to us? How can grasping God’s generosity to you move you to be generous to “neighbors” (broadly defined) in ways your own unaided goodness might not achieve?
  • We usually apply this story to the need for us to help others, a big part of Jesus' teaching. But it was also a story of an Israelite accepting a Samaritan’s help, something actual Israelites usually shunned. How open are you to accepting help from others (even unlikely others) when you need it? Have you ever seen or been in a situation in which asking for and accepting help opened the door to a warmer relationship?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I don’t mind being generous if it’s easy and inexpensive, in time and money. Help me integrate your view of generous service into my thinking about what it might mean to be a true neighbor. Amen.

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Randy Greene

Randy Greene

Randy Greene is a part of the Communications team at the Church of the Resurrection. He helps develop and maintain the church's family of websites. He is also a graduate of Central Baptist Theological Seminary and loves to write stories about faithfulness.

For me, the hardest part of asking for help is admitting to myself that I need it. I want to believe that I can do anything I set my mind to do – that the sky is the limit, and the only thing that could stop me would be if I were to not try hard enough.

In the story of today's reading, the Jewish man was beaten and left for dead on the side of the road, and I wonder if he hesitated when he saw the Samaritan coming.

"Do I really want this man's help?" he may have asked. "This man, this Samaritan, the sworn enemy of God? I'm bruised, but I'm not hurt that badly. Someone else will come along who will help. God will provide for me."

It's a silly thought, right? But I'm pretty sure I do the same thing all the time. I may not be physically hurt the same way this Jewish man was, but there are plenty of times when I've been hurt emotionally, mentally, or spiritually and have resisted reaching out for help. I've felt overwhelmed, but put on a brave face so no one would know, so they would walk on by, smiling and waving at me as I covered my pain.

For me, it's not easy asking for help. To do it, I have to let my pride down. But maybe that pride is actually keeping me from experiencing the closeness of relationship the way Jesus wanted me to. Maybe when I take a posture of humility, of inviting others in to see my weaknesses, I am able to truly know my neighbors. Maybe I cannot love the people around me unless I am willing to be vulnerable and honest with them.

This sounds hard. This doesn't sound safe.

But it does sound a lot like Christ, doesn't it?

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