Focal passage: Luke 10:25-37
Perhaps one of Jesus’ most famous stories, the “Parable of the Good Samaritan,” has become the primary example of how to love our neighbor.
But, in full context of the interchange between the lawyer and Jesus, the story becomes less about random acts of kindness and more about biblical compassion and hospitality to our neighbors around us.
In this famous exchange, we see Jesus exemplify biblical love and compassion, and we learn how to imitate our Savior.
Jesus had been teaching His disciples and sending them out on mission. Then, a lawyer desired to test Jesus and justify himself (vv. 25, 29) by asking two questions: how do I inherit eternal life and who is my neighbor?
To the first question, Jesus sums up the law by saying that it must include total love for God and neighbor. Rather than doing this, the lawyer decides to inquire about the specifics of neighbor love.
“Who is that specifically?” he wonders.
In the amazing way Jesus usually answers questions, He then told a story (vv. 30-36). Three characters (a priest, a Levite and a Samaritan) are introduced in succession.
Jesus chooses to highlight the true compassion that the Samaritan had on the stranger, the very person least expected! True neighbor love meets the needs of those around us. The Samaritan was the “true neighbor” because his love was defined by compassion and tangible action.
Like the Samaritan, our love for others becomes radical when it becomes unexpected and costly. Rather than self-justification, we seek the good of others and show compassion to those who have needs.
Genuine love replaces self-justification and thereby fulfills the law (Romans 13:10).
Do our churches and ministries love those that are different from us? When our love becomes costly, it becomes true compassion that glorifies God.
As D.A. Carson once preached, we must follow the “goodest” Samaritan (Jesus) and then imitate His love to those around us.