Who Is My Neighbor?

Who Is My Neighbor?

Luke 10:25-37

“But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” vs. 29

The Accident

Fred and Marlene Nichols stopped at a service station near Mobile, Alabama to ask directions. Suddenly, a truck without brakes flew across the highway and crashed into their car. Mrs. Nichols was severely injured. Needing to go with his wife to the hospital, but unsure what to do about their car and belongings, Mr. Nichols heard a stranger’s reassuring words and felt a comforting hand on his shoulder. The man told Mr. Nichols to go ahead, he would stay with the couple’s car. Looking at the man, Mr. Nichols instantly recognized him. “You’re Bobby Knight.” “I am,” the man replied, “but we won’t talk about that now.”

Today in the Word, April 16, 1992

You never know when an opportunity to help someone may present itself and you never know who may be the one to help.  Let’s look at a story from Luke 10 about a situation where a man needs some help and who helps him.  If you are able, please stand as we read God’s Word.

Read Passage – Luke 10:25-37

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 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.” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Self-Justification

The passage we are looking at today centers on a man, an expert in the law, who stands up in a crowd of people to ask Jesus what he needs to be assured that her will go to heaven. He wants assurance of hi salvation. We are also told why he did this, verse 29:

“But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus…” vs. 29

There are a few things that need to be pointed out about this whole interaction.  First, he was a teacher in the law.  He knew the O.T. He knew what it said about eternal life. He also stands up.  I would guess that he did that so he would be recognized and maybe even as a sign that he was important because he was an expert in the law. He also calls Jesus “teacher.” He either truly recognizes Jesus as someone special and important or he is trying to patronize Jesus, probably the first more likely than the second.

The passage does make a point that he is trying to justify himself. Why? We all want insurance that our faith will save us and that we are truly saved.  Jesus, in a sense, is challenging him. He knows what it takes to be saved, but that isn’t enough. I think part of this is that this expert was living his faith outwardly but there were probably inward doubts.

Ex. Someone says I am a good dad/husband. I say thanks and feel good about that but inwardly I still have my doubts that I really am. I think of the things I’ve done that I wished I hadn’t of the things I wish I had and inwardly I really wander if I am a good father or husband.

A second part of that is that we sometimes think we are better than we are and we just want to defend ourselves and be assured that we really are doing the right thing.

A Good Neighbor

Jesus response comes in the form of a story about being a good neighbor.  Most of us know this as the story of the Good Samaritan. Verse 33a:

“But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was…vs. 33a

Recap: There is a guy traveling down a road that goes from Jerusalem to Jericho. (Here is what it looks like, show map) As he is traveling, he gets attacked and is beaten almost to the point of death. laying there, dying, a priest walks by and when he sees him, walks way around to avoid dealing with him. Then a Levite, a man who is in the religious line of the Israelites, walks by and he too walks way around to avoid the guy. A third guy, an enemy of the Israelites, walks by and when he sees him, stops, helps him, cares for him, and does what nobody else would do.

Loving Your Neighbor Like Jesus

To understand this story, there is a verse that we can look at again to help us truly understand what it means to love others like Jesus did, it’s verse 27:

“‘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.” vs. 27

We usually apply this to our love of God. But what if we expand that thought and we use it not only to understand how we are to love God but how God calls us to love others, like it says at the end of the verse.

  • Mind

First, we are called to love with the mind. Notice how that is shown in the story.

“…and when he saw him, he took pity on him.” vs. 33b

The Good Samaritan had every reason to keep walking or walk around the man like the  previous two did. This Good Samaritan had a decision to make. He had to make up his mind on how he was going to handle this situation. We all come to decision points in our lives and the first point of decision making comes in our mind. He could have justified that they were enemies, he could have thought of all the differences, the inconveniences, the time it would take, and decided this was not a good idea. Let me add a verse from Romans 14:13 that will help further this point.

“Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.” Romans 14:13

When it comes to loving another person, we have lots of choices. We can pass judgment and divide ourselves from others or make up our mind to love people. We can choose to continue to pass judgment and think of things that continue to build walls or we can decide to see others as God sees them.  Jesus sees people as important. Jesus loved people. We are called to love people and affirm them as God does.

  • Heart

Second, we are called to love with our heart. That’s the emotional, feeling part of us. Notice again what the Good Samaritan did, verse 34:

“He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.” vs. 34

He backs up his decision with action If this man had been attacked, he might be attacked too.  He is not in a good place that assure his safety and well-being. He could have bandaged him and left him there but his heart and conscience wouldn’t allow that.

It really begs the question: Why didn’t the other two stop and help? They could have been late for a church meeting. They could have needed to get to that committee to address all the crime in their area. Or maybe they were on the committee to address road improvement between cities. Who knows? What ever it was, their heart wasn’t for people.

Another way to look at this is perspective.  Most of us, when we approach a situation like this ask ourselves, “What will happen to me if I help this person?” The focus is on ourselves’. A person with heart would instead ask, “What will happen to (that person/them) if I don’t help them?” It’s how we look at a situation and the people being affected by the situation.

Ex. Abraham Lincoln – he took a lot of heat and it possibly even cost him his life by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation. He did not ask, “What will happen to me?” but he asked, “What will happen to the Union and the negro people if I fail to issue it?”

The real bottom line is that the Good Samaritan had a heart for people. His heart is for people and he backs that up with his actions; not just at the site of attack, but on into the night.  Let me add another verse to help us with this. 1 John 4:11:

“Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:11

Because of God’s love, we are called to love.

Word of caution: I am not condoning reckless decisions or that we purposely put ourselves in situations that put us in harms way. Many of us don’t face those kinds of things often. The issue is when we have a chance to show God’s love, are we following the heart of God in loving others as Jesus did or is our heart not open for that.

  • Strength

The third aspect of loving people the way Jesus did was to do so with strength. (Let’s face it; it takes a lot of strength to love some people) Notice what the Good Samaritan did after attending to his wounds. He put him up for the night in a hotel, spent the night with him, then in verse 35a:

“The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper.” vs. 35a

I think this exemplifies strength; strength to go the extra mile. He could have stopped at just about any time and it would have been thought that he had done his part, he did all that was required to be “neighborly.” But his conviction took him further.  He was strong enough to complete the task and to follow up on it as well.  When we complete an obligation, people know it. When we do the bare minimum, it’s usually pretty obvious. But real love comes with real strength and a sense of seeing things out and maybe even going the extra mile. There is a way to have that strength, 1 John 4:4:

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

In an of ourselves we might not be able to love this way but 1 John shows us that it is not of our own strength that we love but with a love that comes from God.  His love is bigger, his love is greater, his love stronger. I think one of the keys to this is that we need to ask God for his strength to love in a deeper, stronger, and more complete way. Good Samaritan looked past bias, race, class, social status and past any barrier that was established.  He wanted to love the way God had called him to love.

We all look at the Good Samaritan and say, “I want to be loved like that!”  But how many of us have said, “Let me love like that!”

The Challenge: Go Do It

So the challenge goes out. Jesus challenged the expert in the law and in verse 36 Jesus says:

“Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.’” vs. 36

It is almost as if Jesus is saying, “Now that you know, now that you have felt that kind of love from God, love God back the same way and let that extend beyond you to those around you, to your neighbor.”

I think it is important to realize that the call is to show a complete picture of love. Let me in closing point out one more thing that ties this all together. Let’s go back to verse 27. Take note: underline it, circle it, highlight it; the word all.

“‘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.” vs. 27

The call is to go all in. It’s mentioned 4 times.

Let’s go back to the story of Bobby Knight.  Most of us have heard all the bad things he has done, the rants, the throwing of chairs, yelling in the face of refs, grabbing kids by the collar and chewing them out for missing s shot. Now I am not trying to make Bobby Knight out to be a saint, but let me finish the story for you. We very rarely hear about the good things a person does.  The news doesn’t report that. Fresh from guiding his Indiana University basketball team to the 1987 collegiate championship in New Orleans, and en route to Atlanta to receive a coach-of-the-year award, Knight laid aside his honored position and became a servant to a couple in need. He could have justified that he was on his way to pick up his award. He didn’t have the time, his appointment was too important and it  demanded national attention.

So that begs the question; Not who is my neighbor? But “Am I willing to be the neighbor God called me to be and love the way Jesus did?”

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About ronbow16

Pastor
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