Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? ~Luke 10:36
"Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" was a nationally-syndicated television program greatly loved and popular among children and adults alike. Fred Rogers gave a very gentle, grandfatherly image and taught practical lessons about being kind and helpful to others. His theme song was entitled “Won't You be My Neighbor?” Today, neighbors are content knowing who you are but do not necessarily go out of their way for you. The idea of a neighbor is restricted to the person next door to you and not anyone whose path you cross. Jesus taught a powerful lesson on who really is a good neighbor.
We see the commandment.
“And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” Loving thy neighbor as thyself has its roots back in Leviticus 19:18. Paul said that all the law is fulfilled in this commandment. James refers to it as the royal law. Jesus and John both refer to this commandment as loving one another. The idea of a neighbor means anyone, irrespective of ethnicity or nation. The Jews restricted the meaning to anyone who was of the commonwealth of Israel. The scribe to whom Jesus was speaking sought to justify his narrow, Jewish idea of a neighbor by asking, “And who is my neighbour?”
We see the casualty.
“And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.” A Jewish man was a victim of a violent crime. He was robbed, stripped, wounded, and left languishing on the roadside, half dead. His injuries were so severe that he needed help in order to live. Jesus gave what should be a moving description of this man’s plight to make us think about what we would do if we chanced upon him.
We see the callous.
Separately, a priest and a Levite saw this man and passed by him on the other side. Neither men wanted to be bothered with this man’s plight. Though they were fellow Jews and men who served the Lord full-time, they were callous and indifferent to him. Even though this man was likely bleeding, groaning in pain, and obviously a victim of crime, these religious men were void of mercy. Both of these men failed the test of concern and mercy.
We see the compassionate.
“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him.…” Samaritans and Jews were ethnically antagonistic to each other. Even though Samaritans were half Jewish, all full-blooded Jews did not consider any race relations between the two. This Samaritan disregarded ethnic differences and stopped to help this man. He bound up his wounds, put him on his beast, put him up in an inn, and paid for his room and lodging. In addition, he told the innkeeper that whatever more was needed to care for this man’s recovery, he would pay for it. Hands down, this Samaritan demonstrated what it means to be a neighbor and love others as himself.
So, who is the neighbor? The scribe answered, "He that shewed mercy on him." Jesus stunned this man by telling him, “Go, and do thou likewise.” Do we love others, especially those who appear unlovely or unlovable, to the point that we will go to an extreme for their need? Our ending thought is, “Will I be a neighbor?”
Have a neighborly God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: John 19-21