Walking to the Promised Land
Wilderness Walking: Trust, Delight, Commit2 Digging Deeper
The Blessed Life Ever: Walk in the Ways of the Lord2 Digging Deeper
Flawless Footsteps: Walk as Christ Walked2 Digging Deeper
The View From Down Here: Walk Humbly2 Digging Deeper
Watch Where You Step: Walk Carefully2 Digging Deeper
Keep on Keeping on: Walk by Faith2 Digging Deeper
Stay out of the Shadows: Walk in the Light2 Digging Deeper
Follow Your Guide: Walk by the Spirit2 Digging Deeper
Walk Tall: Walk Uprightly2 Digging Deeper
Choose Wisely: Walk with Wise Men2 Digging Deeper
Love, That's All: Walk in Love2 Digging Deeper
When No One's Looking: Walk in Integrity2 Digging Deeper
Be Good Do Good: Walk in Good Works3 Digging Deeper
Leave Your Past Behind: Walk in Newness of Life2 Digging Deeper
Remember Who You Are: Walk Worthy2 Digging Deeper
Walk with the Father: Walk with God6 Digging Deeper
A Beautiful Story of Mercy
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
And with that, the lawyer correctly answered his own question, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Do this and you shall live.” Jesus told him. (Life meaning “true life…an endless life…in the Kingdom of God).
Then came the lawyer’s next question: “And who is my neighbor?”
Not asked with sincerity. Not asked in humility. But, rather, to justify himself. In other words, to make himself appear righteous.
The lawyer–a man who could interpret and teach the Law of Moses–was challenging Jesus. As the Pharisees and scribes often did, he was testing Him–trying to catch Him in an error or a contradiction. Jesus always knew their hearts and He always passed their tests.
This story that we often call “The Parable of the Good Samaritan” is found in Luke 10:25-37. After the lawyer asked, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus taught an important lesson. The beginning of verse 30 says, “Then Jesus answered and said…” There’s something really interesting to me about this particular phrase when you consider its rendering in the original language. The Greek phrase literally translates, “having taken it up” and is used in text to continue a discourse or topic. The lawyer threw out a challenge and Jesus “took it up.” I love this image! Jesus was well aware of the intent behind the lawyer’s questioning and He took him up on it. He wasn’t intimidated by confrontation nor was He afraid of questioning! In my mind, I see the self-righteous lawyer kind of smirking as he posed his question and Jesus’ responding to him with love and kindness AND strength and courage with the unspoken words….”I know what you’re doing and I take you up on your challenge.”
Jesus began to tell a story that is set on a road that runs from Jerusalem to Jericho. This road would have been well known to His listeners. It was a road that was notorious for its danger and difficulty; commonly known as “The Way of Blood” because of the blood that was often shed there by robbers. The road was 18 miles long, with desert-like conditions, and served as a major thoroughfare at that time. Jesus described a certain man who was traveling along that road and fell among thieves. They stripped the man of his clothes, beat him, and left him for dead. As he laid there, barely hanging on to his life, he is encountered by a priest and then by a Levite. In the story, both men saw the dying man and both men passed by on the other side.
This was significant to the audience hearing the story as Jesus was telling it! A priest and a Levite?? These were Jewish religious leaders! Surely they would help this dying man!? It was an expectation for these men to show compassion! But this was the point: they knew the Law but didn’t live the Law. They could recite the words “love your neighbor” but when it really came down to loving their neighbor they set their own rules and limitations. Jesus taught something very different and very beautiful…
As Jesus continued the story, He told about another man–a Samaritan–who came upon the injured man. The Samaritans were hated by the Jews. They were considered “impure”–and looked upon as a “lower-class of people” because during the time of captivity they had intermarried with non-Jews. The Jews had nothing to do with them. But this Samaritan, without hesitation, extended the compassion that the priest and Levite had withheld. The Samaritan bandaged the man’s wounds, poured oil and wine on him, set him on his animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. He gave money to the innkeeper and asked for him to continue to care for the man; and anything more that was spent would be repaid.
At the end of the story, Jesus asked the question, “So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”
The answer is obvious, but the lawyer could not even say the word “Samaritan.” He responded by saying, “He who showed mercy on him.”
The lawyer wanted an answer that was quantifiable. In his reasoning, a “neighbor” would, of course, be a Jew…a member of the Hebrew nation–but to what extent? How close–literally–would one have to be in order to show kindness? Within a stones throw? Within a mile? How could that be measured?
Through His parable, Jesus showed the lawyer that he had the wrong idea. Loving your neighbor is not quantifiable! It’s about mercy and mercy cannot be measured. Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan demonstrated that love, compassion, and kindness is to be extended, without boundaries–regardless of race or religion, wealth or social status–to ANYONE we encounter along our journey…even an enemy. Jesus taught that loving your neighbor means showing kindness without reservation. It means helping someone without expecting anything in return. It means giving selflessly and without limit.
To the question, “Who was the neighbor?” the lawyer answered rightly: The one who showed mercy.
Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
And so we should.