Read Luke 10:25-37
Pray that the Lord will open your mind and heart to hear His voice.
What does it mean to care for one another as an act of love?
It’s important to consider what had just happened to visualize the setting of this parable fully. A crowd had gathered to hear about the miracles performed by the disciples in recent months. Jesus spoke quietly to his disciples, telling them they were blessed to have witnessed the awesome power of God, something that the religious leaders craved for themselves but were denied. Out of the crowd, an expert in Mosaic law challenged Jesus to define “neighbor,” a technical question based on conflicting interpretations of Leviticus 19, where the law defines neighbor first as fellow Israelites, and then as foreigners living among the Israelites. The expert was asking Jesus to debate one interpretation or the other, likely because the expert thought he could successfully argue for the one Jesus didn’t choose.
Jesus turned the expert’s question upside down with the parable of the priest, the Levite, and the Samaritan. The road between Jerusalem and Jericho was a winding 18-mile trek along a stream bed and is still notoriously difficult to travel both because of the terrain and the bandits who lurked along the way. Traveling alone was never a good idea, yet this story discussed four: the victim and the three who saw him. Jesus knew priests and Levites were also in the crowd, so with one narrative, he illustrated how faith and works connect. Priests and Levites may have had legitimate theoretical reasons for bypassing the wounded stranger, but theory and reality collide when Jesus is present.
The reality Jesus presents is that anyone can be your neighbor. It might be familiar people down the street or unfamiliar people down on their luck. Your neighbor may be in a nearby church or in your favorite restaurant. Your neighbor may be within walking distance or thousands of miles away. Tony Evans put it this way, “Your neighbor is the person whose need you see, feel, and are able to meet.” The priest and Levite had provisions for their journeys but were not legally required to share with someone not of their kind. The Samaritan, however, saw the need and went above and beyond any cultural norm to ensure the man could recover. His own wine, his own oil, his own clothing, his own animal, and his own money. Without knowledge of the “law,” this stranger acted as a neighbor better than the experts who could recite every jot and tittle.
As Jesus followers, we can joyfully proclaim his wondrous works and power, but until we demonstrate authentic and selfless care for others, our words are just noise (1 Corinthians 1:1). Our caring love must identify us in ways that experts, skeptics, and critics can’t argue against. We embody the presence of Jesus in a world that needs good neighbors.
Journal a response to the Father recognizing His great care for you. List some ways you can put care into action.
For further reflection, contemplate Matthew 25:31-40 and Micah 6:6-8