07/06/M – Loving Your Neighbor

Deuteronomy 24:14-25:19; Luke 10:25-37; Psalms 76:1-7; Proverbs 18:16-18

NT: “Then an expert in the law stood up to test him, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the law?” he asked him. “How do you read it?” He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,” and “your neighbor as yourself.” “You’ve answered correctly,” he told him. “Do this and you will live.” But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus took up the question and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him, beat him up, and fled, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down that road. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. In the same way, a Levite, when he arrived at the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan on his journey came up to him, and when he saw the man, he had compassion. He went over to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on olive oil and wine. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him. When I come back I’ll reimburse you for whatever extra you spend.’ Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” “The one who showed mercy to him,” he said. Then Jesus told him, “Go and do the same.”” (‭‭Luke‬ ‭10:25-37‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

When an opportunity arose, an expert in the law (a lawyer) posed a theological question to Jesus in order to trap Him. Instead of falling for the trap, Jesus turned the question around to the expert and asked him… “What is your expert legal opinion of this matter?” Of course, the lawyer obliged with an answer that Jesus agreed with. That trap didn’t work so well. So to justify himself and try to trap Jesus in another way, he asked Jesus to qualify what or who is considered a neighbor. He wanted to how far would he have to go to abide by the commands to love God and love your neighbor. Instead of answering the question, Jesus told a story. There is a good chance that the story was a true story that the people in the crowd would have been familiar with. It is the story that we know as the Good Samaritan. It is interesting that when asked about what it means to love your neighbor, Jesus brought racial issues in the mix. There was a deep racial divide between the Jews and the Samaritans. The Jews considered Samaritans to be beneath them: defiled half-breeds. So to illustrate what it meant to love your neighbor, Jesus told a story of a Samaritan caring for a Jew in need – not the other way around. In today’s culture, that would be like telling a crowd of white nationalists a story about a black man showing compassion and taking care of a white supremacist. The point was and still is, there are no conditions to loving your neighbor as yourself. In fact, Jesus taught that we are to not only love our friends, we are also to love our enemies and treat them kindly with respect. The Bible talks about Jesus giving His life for us while we were still trapped in sin and living as enemies of God. Jesus gave everything to save His enemies, and He calls us to do the same. When it comes to loving people, respecting them, and treating them as equals – there are no conditions or limitations. As we continue to abide in Jesus and allow Jesus’ words to abide in us through the Holy Spirit, our lives bear the fruit of Jesus’ character… He develops in us the ability to love the unloveable and forgive the unforgivable. What the world needs now is love – and the only way to fully walk in that love is through the manifestation of Jesus in us.

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