There is nothing better in this season of my life than reading books with my amazing grandson. To watch him learn and light up as he discovers new things in each book and then to remember them the next time we read is absolutely amazing and such a blessing to me. My goodness, how I love that little guy! (Can you just imagine how much God loves us???!!!)
We pulled out the Dr. Suess book, "Are You My Mother?", a cute little book about a baby bird that feel from the nest and is in search for its mother. Not long after that, I was listening to a dear friend speak about The Good Samaritan, and so I began to study that for myself the next day. I was not aware of it, but a teacher of the Law had actually asked Jesus a similar question, "Who Is My Neighbor?"
In Luke 10:25-37, this expert of the Law was questioning Jesus as to what he must do to have eternal life. Jesus answered him, "Well, what does the Law say?" The man replied that it said to love the Lord with all your heart and soul, and mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself. But when Jesus told him that he was correct and to go and do it, the man exclaimed, "And who is my neighbor?"
Jesus begins to share a parable we today call, The Good Samaritan. Many of you know the story: a man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and robbers beat him up and leave him for dead. Three men came along: a Priest, a Levite, and a good Samaritan and the Samaritan helped him, got him to an inn, and pays the cost for the man's stay.
Now why would Jesus, after being questioned about defining a neighbor, use this story? Well, while you may say to show that anyone who needs help is considered our neighbor, and that is true, there is so much more depth to the story than just that.
-From Jerusalem to Jericho is about 6,610 miles...a VERY LONG journey...have you been on one of those? Are you in a circumstance that has lingered so long and you are tired, weary and down? Jesus knows that feeling (John 4:6).
-The robbers represent our adversary who always looks for opportunities when we are downtrodden and weary to attack us; thats why the Bible reminds to be alert because the enemy is like a lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). The robbers did 3 things:
1) they stripped him of his clothes (shamed him and humiliated him)
2) they beat him (sinned against him for no reason-internal and external wounding)
3) they left him half dead (entirely exhausted and spiritually dead)
-A Priest represents The Law, action but no interaction. They were all about performance and rejecting non-Jews. So he passed by on the "other side".
-A Levite represents the prophets who joined people to God by what they received from God. Many were all about their platform and popularity...filled with pride but no compassion and thus, no action. He, too, passed by.
-A Samaritan: rejected by many as a "half-breed" because he was part Jew and part Gentile. The Good Samaritan represents Jesus. He was compassionate the moment he saw the wounded man (Psalm 86:15). He bound up his wounds (Psalm 147:3), poured oil and wine on him, put him on his own donkey (these were called "Beasts of Burden" and actually have a symbol of a cross on their backs, so the donkey represents the cross of Jesus), and took him to an inn to take care of him.
-The Inn represents the Church. The Church is not a social club for the saints but a hospital for the hurting, where they can go and find help.
Jesus will bring many to the Church who need taking care of. This was the answer to the question by the teachers of the law. Your neighbor is anyone that God brings your way to help. This was hard for those who were Jewish and had been taught to stay away for anyone that was not a Jew and certainly stay away and even hate and reject those who were mixed. Yet Jesus was busting that concept ALL up!
Your neighbor is anyone God brings your way to help.
Anyone you cross paths with, don't dismiss. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal if they are a neighbor that you need to help. Then, make helping them your priority, because you have no idea what they are going through and your smile, touch, words of encouragement, acknowledgement, and kind deed may mean to them.
Let's practice being more like the Good Samaritan and less like the Priest or the Levite. Let's make sure that we go to the church building not to get but to give ourselves away for those who have been brought to the "inn" by Jesus.
You are loved,