Jesus, Who Is My Neighbor?

When Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan, He placed us in the story. Typically, we think we’re cast in the role of the Samaritan, the good man, the benefactor, but actually He left it open if we would be the benefactor. We also could be the innkeeper, who provided aide without certainty of full payment. Certainly, we are the two religious leaders — the “good” people in our community — but we’re also the victim in need of help. But there’s a sixth person in this story, the expert in Jewish law who asked who his neighbor was. Moses answered that question in Leviticus, written 1,300 years earlier. The legal expert should have known that. Since Jesus’ told the story, another 2,000 years have passed. Are we any closer to answering the question?

A teacher of the law, seeking to trap Jesus, asked what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus told him to love God and obey His  law, including loving his neighbor as himself. The legal expert then asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Luke 10:25-29 (edited)

IT’S CALLED THE PARABLE OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN.

We think we know the story because it’s an easy tale to follow. We can readily pick out each of the four main characters — victim, priest, Levite, benefactor — and place ourselves in whichever role we wish to accomplish whatever result we favor.

Most of us probably see ourselves as the benefactor. He was  described as a Samaritan, which m31-robbersbeatingthevictimeans little to us, just a slight reference to nationality, nothing significant, so we let it pass.

The holy men who passed by the victim without offering assistance are easy enough to place also — they’re the hypocrites, and surely we see many of those around, you know, people who say all sorts of good things but who don’t follow through. We even have an expression: “talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.” They might be called the “good people” in our community.

Do we ever look at the victim?

Jesus describes him as a man walking from Jerusalem to Jericho, who was attacked by robbers, beaten, and left for dead. He gives us no other description, so we tend to ignore him. Continue reading “Jesus, Who Is My Neighbor?”