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The Good Samaritan

                                             Luke 10:25-37
Jesus loved to tell a good story to make a point, and The Good Samaritan is one of His most famous stories of all.

Whenever someone asked Jesus which of the Old Testament commandments was the most important, Jesus said these two are the most important of all: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind" and "Love your neighbor just as much as you love yourself."

"Love" can mean many different things, but the "Christian love" that Jesus talked about means treating others with kindness and respect and helping them when they need it. It is the kind of love we do instead of the kind of love we feel.

"Love your neighbor as yourself" was part of the Old Testament Law (Leviticus 19:18) that was sacred to Jesus' kinfolk, the Jews. But, many people thought a "neighbor" meant only their fellow Jews. One day a lawyer asked Jesus, "And just who is my neighbor?" Jesus told the story of The Good Samaritan to answer his question in a way we can never forget:

A Jewish man was taking a trip alone and was attacked by robbers. They beat him, robbed him of everything he had, and left him nearly dead beside the road. After while, a Jewish priest came along and saw the poor man lying beside the road. As a religious man, you would expect him to stop and do what he could to help. But, instead, he kept going and pretended he did not see. Later, a Levite came along. Levites were assistants to the priests, so you would expect him to stop and help, too. But, he did just like the priest and kept on going.


The Good Samaritan bandaged the man's wounds, put him on his own donkey and took him to an inn.
Finally, a Samaritan man came by. Even though they both lived in the land of Palestine and shared a similar religion, the Jews and the Samaritans definitely did not think of each other as "neighbors." In fact, they hated each other. The Samaritans came from a different race of people than the Jews. They had considered each other enemies for hundreds of years and refused to even talk to each other!


You would expect the Samaritan man to be the one who just passed by without helping. Instead, this Samaritan man took pity on the injured Jewish man. He bandaged his wounds. He put him on his own donkey and took him to an inn where he could be safe and recover. Since the injured man had been robbed of everything he had, the Samaritan man even paid his bill at the inn and paid the innkeeper to take good care of him!

After telling this story, Jesus turned to the lawyer who had asked, "And who is my neighbor?" and said to him, "Now which of the three men that passed by was a neighbor to the injured man?" The lawyer was forced to admit that it was the Samaritan who treated the injured man as a neighbor, not his fellow Jews who did nothing to help. Jesus then said, "Yes, now go and do the same!"

If a Samaritan could be a neighbor to a Jew, and Jesus told us to "go and do the same," then all of God's people must be our neighbors and we must love them just as the Samaritan man did! Yet, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Catholics, Protestants, African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, Asians, the poor, the homeless, the unattractive, gays, lesbians, the handicapped, the mentally ill, and countless other groups are still sometimes the victims of ridicule, hatred and discrimination. Jesus must be looking down with sadness that, after 2000 years, we have still not learned to love our neighbors!

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