Read Luke 10:25-37
He answered: “‘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, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (v. 27).
Do you understand how central these two commandments are? Jesus defined these as the two greatest commandments. They serve as a summary and foundation for all of the Old Testament instruction. The one who keeps these commandments will inherit eternal life. Of course, no one perfectly obeys them. That’s why we need the Savior and His substitutionary sacrifice.
Rather than humbly recognizing his deficiency and admitting his need, the lawyer in today’s story sought to “justify himself” (v. 29). “Who is my neighbor?” he asked. Apparently, he had his own answer and wanted Jesus to prove him right. Likely, he had people in mind who were much like himself. Perhaps he thought only of upstanding Jews. People with a reputation or non-Jewish Gentiles or half-Jewish Samaritans were certainly not among those who fell under the umbrella of this commandment.
You are likely familiar with the story. You know how Jesus describes a man who was assaulted on a dangerous path. You probably recall how the priest made a wide berth around the needy man. You remember how the Levite did similarly. But the one who stopped to help was not the one you would expect. In Christ’s story, a Samaritan . . . a man thought by the lawyer to be useless and heartless . . . provided first aid and important care. In all likelihood, you are familiar with the story.
But Jesus closes the story with a question much different from the one posed by the lawyer. “Who is my neighbor?” (v. 29). He approached life with a critical spirit thinking that people had to meet certain criterion in order to merit his loving concern. Without saying it precisely, Jesus essentially said, “Your neighbor is anyone in need.” Meanwhile, Jesus, however, closes with the question, “Who was a neighbor?” (v. 36). He is inviting the man to turn his thinking from “Who is deserving of my help?” to “Am I willing to help?”
It is probable that your day will include some unexpected encounters with people in need. Who will be a neighbor to them? Will you love your neighbor?