Loving Your Neighbor

Luke 10:25-37

I. The Basic Commands in the Lives of Believers (Luke 10:25-28)

In this incident as recorded by Luke, the physician, we observe a Jewish teacher of the law came to Jesus to test him with a question about eternal life. His question showed that he thought of eternal life as something to be obtained by some special act. Jesus’ reply showed that obtaining eternal life is inseparably linked with the way people live their daily lives. If they do not put God before all things and their neighbor before themselves, they can have no assurance of eternal life. (Flemming)

F.B. Meyer in his exposition of the text believed that the ensuing story told by our Lord is a parable as it was probably suggested by the journey up to Jerusalem. Or it may be founded on an actual occurrence.

Notice how the Master answered the inquiry, “Who is my neighbor?”

Jesus said in effect, stated Meyer, that the question is not, “Who is my neighbor?”

Rather, “Whom will I be a neighbor to?”

In other words, one ought to ask who wants my help? Neighborhood consists not in what you receive, but in what you give. It is independent of race, creed and the ordinary sentiment of pity. Love overleaps all these distinctions and risks its very life in order to render help. In fact, this parable is a very “poem of Love.” It is to be compared with 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (next week’s lesson, believe it or not).

II. Who is My Neighbor (Luke 10:29) “To justify himself” — Desirous to appear blameless, or to vindicate himself, and show that he had kept the law. Jesus wished to lead him to a proper view of his own sinfulness, and his real departure from the law. The man was desirous of showing that he had kept the law; or perhaps he was desirous of justifying himself for asking the question; of showing that it could not be so easily settled; that a mere reference to the “words” of the law did not determine it. It was still a question what was meant by “neighbor.” The Pharisees held that the “Jews” only were to be regarded as such, and that the obligation did not extend at all to the Gentiles. The lawyer was probably ready to affirm that he had discharged faithfully his duty to his countrymen, and had thus kept the law, and could justify himself. Every sinner is desirous of “justifying himself.” He seeks to do it by his own works. For this purpose, he perverts the meaning of the law, destroys its spirituality, and brings “down” the law to “his” standard, rather than attempt to frame his life by “its” requirements. (Barnes Bible Notes)

III. A Neighbor is Anyone in Need (Luke 10:30-32) In summation (for the sake of the lawyer in this story, there is no “legal” pun intended here), Alexander MacLaren stated that there are many of us like this “legal expert in the laws of Moses” (The Living Bible) who thinks that the obligation is a matter of geography, and that love, like force, is inversely as the square of the distance. But Christ’s way of putting the question sweeps all such limitations aside. “Who became neighbour to” the wounded man?

“He who showed mercy on him,” said the lawyer, unwilling to name the Samaritan, and by his very reluctance, giving the point to his answer which Christ wished to bring out.

Thusly, we are not to love because we are neighbors in any geographical sense, but we become neighbors to the man farthest from us when we love and help him. The relation has nothing to do with proximity. If we prove ourselves neighbors to any man by exercising love to him, then the relation intended by the word is as wide as humanity. We must come to realize that one becomes our “neighbor” when a throb of pity shoots through our heart, and thereby we become a “neighbor” to him or her.

IV. A Despised Samaritan Offers a Helping Hand (Luke 10:33-37) Thereby shewing himself, in spite of his heresy and ignorance, a better man than the orthodox Priest and Levite; and all the more so because he was an “alien” (reference Luke 17:18), and “the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans” (see John 4:9), and this very wounded man would, under other circumstances, have shrunk from the touch of the Samaritan as from pollution. And yet this “Cuthaean” — this “worshipper of the pigeon” — this man of a race which was accused of misleading the Jews by false fire signals, and of defiling the Temple with human bones — whose testimony would “not” have been admitted in a Jewish court of law — with whom no Jew would so much as eat (from Antiquities writings of Jewish historian Josephus) — shews a spontaneous and perfect pity of which neither Priest nor Levite had been remotely capable. The fact that the Jews had applied to our Lord Himself the vulgar name of “Samaritan” (John 8:48) is one of the indications that a deeper meaning lies under the beautiful obvious significance of this parable. (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges) That being said, I would, my beloved friend, ask of you to seek out today (with God’s help) “whom you can be a neighbor to.” Shalom!

Christ in the Text: Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise. — Luke 10:36-37

Church Supply Pastor and Christian columnist, Dr. Wayne M. Williams, presently resides in Athens with his wife of 39 years, Lita. For additional study notes, see the Facebook page International Sunday School Lessons.

Church Supply Pastor and Christian columnist, Dr. Wayne M. Williams, presently resides in Athens with his wife of 39 years, Lita. For additional study notes, see the Facebook page International Sunday School Lessons.

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