Today, Jesus tells a story that demonstrates what it reeeeeeally looks like to love others:
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
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.’”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
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. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 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. 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.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Let’s look at our 2 BIG Questions:
1. Who exactly is Jesus?
He’s the Master Teacher. His parables hit us right straight directly in the ♥.
2. What exactly does he want us to do?
At first the religious expert got it right, echoing Jesus’ own summary of the two greatest commandments: “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.” As Jesus said, “Do this and you will live.”
But that wasn’t enough for the man. He demanded to know: “Who is my neighbor?” He was probably hoping for confirmation that God doesn’t really expect us to love everyone — certainly not sinners or outcasts or others we consider beneath ourselves.
Jesus turned his question on its head with a story featuring just such an outcast as the hero and essentially asking “Whose neighbor are YOU?” In the story, the religious leaders go out of there way to avoid the dying man. Only a Samaritan — considered pagan “dogs” by the religious leaders of the day — stopped and showed mercy.
True love of God and others isn’t expressed through mere religious activity or words — it’s expressed in action.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you “Go and do likewise.” Starting now.
(Image credit: Shutterstock.com / Renata Sedmakova)