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graphic: Martha G. Brady

“Who is my neighbor?” said the young lawyer who was trying to defend himself. Yes, he was self-righteous, arrogant, knew his Scriptures well. But he wasn’t certain what it took to inherit eternal life.

Who is my neighbor? said the young, self-righteous, arrogant lawyer who was trying to defend himself. Click To Tweet

Then Jesus asked him what the Law said. He was able to spout the words off clearly. But there was a problem. He needed an out. He wasn’t searching for truth. Who is my neighbor?

Jesus removed all doubt by His answer. He took away every excuse this man as well as each of us could ever want for not knowing.

Who is my neighbor?

The person who makes me uncomfortable.
The person or situation that is inconvenient.
The person who stretches my comfort zone.
The person who pushes me toward compassion and mercy.
The person who does not allow me to maintain my religious composure.
The person who forces me to lean on Jesus.

How was that for an answer the lawyer didn’t want. That story answered his question in a way he didn’t want to hear. It blew a hole in his stereotypical view of who and what his neighbor was and how he was to relate to him/her.

WIMN? The person who stretches my comfort zone. The person who pushes me toward compassion & mercy. Click To Tweet

He could no longer maintain all his rules related to ceremonial cleanliness AND treat his neighbor in the way Jesus required. We don’t know if he did what Jesus said or not.

 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho,
and he fell among robbers,
who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.
Now by chance a priest was going down that road,
and when he saw him he passed by on the other side.
So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him,
passed by on the other side.

But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was,
and when he saw him, he had compassion.
He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.
Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn
and took care of him.
And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper,
saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend,
I will repay you when I come back.’

Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor
to the man who fell among the robbers?”
He said, “The one who showed him mercy.”
And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” 

Luke 1o:29-37