Who is my neighbor?

It’s a beautiful day in the_____. I’m pretty confident that you filled in the blank with the exact word that I’m thinking. More than likely you probably didn’t just read this line, but rather you sang it. If you’re younger than me (I’m currently 23), then there is a possibility that you have no idea what I’m talking about. Let’s finish this song for the younguns out there:  

“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. A beautiful day for a neighbor.

Would you be mine?

Could you be mine?

Won’t you be my neighbor?”

Good ol’ Fred Rogers or better known as Mr. Rogers from the famous TV show Mr. Rogers Neighborhood! Every episode Mr. Rogers would peacefully come in his house, remove his jacket, put on his famous red sweater and sneakers, singing this very song that we sang together above. 

To be honest I wasn’t a huge Mr. Rogers fan as a kid, I think the puppets kind of freaked me out, but I do respect who he was as a man; kind, gentle, meek and loving. I love how he wanted to befriend everyone and every kid, and honestly I am excited to see Tom Hanks play him in the upcoming movie. 

The famous line that he sang, “Won’t you be my neighbor?” brings about a question for us to ponder on. What does it mean to be a neighbor. Obviously Fred Rogers was not asking every kid and parent to build a house beside him. So, what does it mean to be a “neighbor”. 

One day Jesus was put to the test by a lawyer. The lawyer looked at Jesus and said “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus asks him what is written in the law, and the lawyer answers Jesus back correctly with, “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) Jesus told him that he answered correctly. 

Not completely satisfied with Jesus’ answer, Luke 10:29 tells us that “he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’”

Why would the lawyer ask this question? 

The lawyer asks this because he wants to know who exactly he has to love! This is not a good question. Basically, this guy is saying “Jesus, who do I NOT have to love”. He knows he is supposed to love his neighbor as himself, but what he wants to know is who exactly is his neighbor, so that he can pick out the people he loves! 

I hope this is never the case for us! Wondering if there are certain people in this world that you don’t have to love. It should be no question that we are to love every and anybody! That’s what Christ does. 

So, do I have to love that person who is just plain weird? Yes. 

Do I have to love that one guy who’s a punk to everyone? Yes.

Do I have to love the person who doesn’t even like me? Yes. 

This lawyer is asking who he has to love by saying who is my neighbor, so Jesus responds with what we know as the parable of the Good Samaritan. 

Luke 10:30-33

Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.  Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side.  So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.

Quick summary of what you just read: 

-Dude gets jumped, and left for dead

-A Priest disses him, and passes him up

-A levite disses him, and  passes him up

This stands out because priest and levites were the men who served in the Temple of God. The priest would perform the sacrifices in the temple, and the levites were the group that God set apart to assist the priest and take care of the tabernacle and temple. 

These two men just passed right over this guy in need.

But we see in V33 that a Samaritan had compassion. 

The Samaritans were the half jew, half gentiles who during the Assyrian invasion were left in Samaria and chose to intermingle and marry foreigners that came in. Because they intermingled with the foreigners the Jews despised the Samaritans and had no dealings with them at all (John 4:9)! This lawyer probably even hated the thought of hearing the word Samaritan! 

But in this parable we see it was the Samaritan that showed compassion. Not the priest. Not a Levite. Not a Jew. A Samaritan.

The Samaritan not only checks on the half dead guy, but he goes the extra mile for him. 

-He binds up his wounds with HIS oil and wine. 

-He puts him on HIS animal, taking HIS time to bring him to an inn

-He gives up TWO days worth of work money to give to the innkeeper telling him to take care of this guy. 

-He even tells the innkeeper that whatever he spent taking care of the Samaritan, he would come back and pay off his DEBT. 

After telling this parable to the lawyer he then looks at him and says “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers.” (Luke 10:36)

Jesus answers the lawyers question with a story and then a question for him. 

The lawyer answer Jesus, “The one who showed mercy.” 

Jesus responds with “You go, and do likewise.”

In our walk with Jesus it’s all about becoming the person Jesus wants you to be! 

The lawyer was asking who was his neighbor so he could know who to love,

BUT Jesus doesn’t tell him who he needs to love, but instead tells him the kind of person he needs to be!

GO, and do likewise! Go and do like this man has done! Showing sacrificing his money and time for a complete stranger. Taking care of him! You GO and do this!

So, who is the person you are becoming?

Your goal is to become more like Christ. That’s what the word Christian means; little Christ. 

Jesus: 

  • He (like the Good Samaritan) had compassion on us
  • He (like the Good Samaritan) saved us from death 
  • He (like the Good Samaritan) pays our debt, so that we might be free and no longer slaves

Now you, go and do likewise. 

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