The parable of the unexpected “neighbor”

Posted Oct 26, 2020

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Daily Scripture

Luke 10:25-37

25 A legal expert stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to gain eternal life?”

26 Jesus replied, “What is written in the Law? How do you interpret it?”

27 He responded, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself” [Leviticus 19:18].

28 Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live.”

29 But the legal expert wanted to prove that he was right, so he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

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

“Go and do likewise”? Jesus wasn’t saying the legal expert (or you) are off the hook as long as you don’t ignore a man thieves have beaten and left in a ditch. Jesus’ story said the Samaritan’s far-reaching mercy cost time, money, and emotional energy. He used his resources to relieve another person’s suffering. In the story, he wasn’t even finished when he got the broken man to an inn—he had to go back and pay the innkeeper. So, Jesus' call—“go and do likewise.” Offer extravagant, practical mercy that costs something.

  • Jesus used religious officials (priest, Levite) to represent those who claim a relationship with God, yet don’t act on it. Where do you see yourself in this story? Are you the priest or Levite? Are you the Samaritan, from a group the priest and Levite looked down on? Do you feel battered and helpless? Jesus called us to become like “the one who demonstrated mercy.” How do you (or could you) act on your relationship with God by offering compassion and healing?
  • Has helping someone else ever cost you a significant amount of money, time, or energy? If so, reflect on your inner responses as you were showing mercy. (Don’t hurry—let yourself feel those feelings and thoughts again.) Then recall your inner responses after the crisis when you knew you had helped someone heal. Do you believe giving help when it costs something is worth it?


Lord Jesus, place someone in my path who will give me the chance to act like the Samaritan. Teach me that I’m here to help others. And in all the broken places of my life, show me mercy, Jesus. Amen.

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Donna Karlen

Donna Karlen

Donna Karlen serves with the Communications Ministry working on special projects.

Don’t we all see ourselves playing the role of the good Samaritan in this story? We're just so sure we would do all the things to help this man lying wounded on the road.

Except when we pass by on the other side…

Like when I look away from the woman holding a sign asking for a few dollars to help feed her children. Or I decide it’s easier to stay home than to show up in support of health care heroes. Or: “I’ll give for the next ____ drive.”

God, please forgive me when my actions are like those of the priest or the Levite – the times I “pass by on the other side” of someone in need. Guide me to love my neighbor better. Help me to see the ways I can “go and do likewise.” Amen


When the sinful woman wept at his feet,
Jesus – not judging – said “Go in peace…”

When tax collectors and sinners gathered to eat,
Jesus welcomed them with joy to his table…

When a bleeding woman sought relief from her pain,
Jesus freed her from suffering…

When a man begged for freedom from a tortuous chain,
Jesus showed him mercy…

When followers gathered for one final meal,
Jesus washed their feet…

When a thief cried out a hopeful appeal,
Jesus shared his peace…

Let us go and do likewise.

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