Who Is My Neighbor?
A lawyer, one who was an expert in the Law of Moses, asked Jesus a familiar question. “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” That is a good question, an important question, and a very necessary question. We all need to understand and answer that question. But this man was not sincere, he was tempting or testing Jesus.
Our Lord responds by asking this expert on the Law, “What is written in the Law?” “How readest thou?” The scribe had no difficulty in answering Him. Luke 10:27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
He knew the answer, but he was not doing it! He had head knowledge, but he wasn’t living the Truth. Jesus said, “Thou hast answered right: this do and thou shalt live.”
The scribe’s insincerity is further revealed by his next question. Rather than responding to the Lord by saying, “How can I do this? I cannot love you and others the way I should. I need you to enable me to do this…I can’t do it on my own. Luke tells us that he was “willing to justify himself”.
Isn’t that the way we are at times? We know the Truth, but rather than acknowledging our failure to be obedient; we seek to “justify” ourselves. But the Lord is patient and longsuffering toward us. Instead of rebuking this prideful lawyer, He went to great lengths to explain and answer the question of “Who is my neighbour?”
I believe that this is important for us to understand as well. In the next passage, known as the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus teaches us how to love our neighbours and shows us who they are. Note: The parable was not given to answer the first question. Jesus is not advocating that we must do good works in order to have eternal life! He is teaching us how to respond to others.
(Prov 29:18a) “Where there is no vision, the people perish:”
The reason that multitudes of people have still not heard the Gospel is simply that we do not see the world as Christ sees this world.
(Luke 10:2) “Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.”
What do we see? What we do is determined by what we see!
Read: Luke 10:30-37
I. The thieves saw a victim to exploit. V30
A. They did not view him as a creation of God.
B. They did not care about his needs as an individual.
C. They only sought to take from him anything that was of value to him.
1. We must remember that God gave us things to use, but he gave us people to love.
2. When we start loving things, we will start using people.
D. That is the philosophy of the world.
1. Humanistic in nature…looking out for #1
2. Get what you want…no matter who it may hurt.
3. Total selfishness.
II. The Priest and Levite saw a nuisance to avoid. v31-32
A. The Road to Jericho was often travelled by religious men of the day.
B. The Priest and Levite are representative of religion.
1. Religion = man’s attempt to make himself acceptable to God.
2. It is futile.
(Rom 3:10) “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:”
3. Man is still the center of attention in this effort.
C. They avoided this one who was in such obvious need.
D. Perhaps their reasoning was along these lines:
1. “I have been serving in the Temple. I have done my part…my duty!”
a. Too often, Christians excuse their lack of having a personal ministry because they attend church regularly.
b. Our church attendance is important to our spiritual growth as believers, but …
c. It doesn’t help our neighbour learn of the saving grace of God.
2. “It’s not my fault!”
a. True, we are not the blame for the pain and misery that some poor wretched sinner has to go through…
b. But we are to blame if we allow them to remain in that condition.
3. “Let someone else do it!”
a. Everybody saw a need that anybody could meet, and thought that surely somebody would take care of it, but nobody ever did.
b. The priest could have said, “Well, I see the Levite coming. I will let him take care of the situation.”
c. The Levite could have said, “The priest didn’t do anything, so why should I?”
III. The Samaritan saw an opportunity to minister. V33-35
A. Christ-like example.
1. In is response to this one who was hurting, he displays the character of Christ.
2. He demonstrates to us how we should respond to others.
3. The same way that Christ responded to us!
B. Note his behaviour.
1. He made no excuses, had no ill motives, but simply did what he could to meet the need he saw.
2. He was willing to get involved personally.
a. He had compassion, not pity.
1) Compassion means placing ourselves in the individual’s position, feeling everything that he must feel, and then acting upon that realization.
2) Compassion is a characteristic of our Lord.
(Mat 9:36) “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.”
3) When we have compassion toward others, we will treat them as God has treated us.
4) Where would we be now, if God had not loved us enough to give His Son to die on Calvary that we might be saved?
b. Contact: He went to him.
1) He could have made some excuse to avoid making contact with the wounded man.
2) But love doesn’t look at the obstacles, but only sees opportunities.
3) Many of us fail to see the need, because we are not in contact with others. (and that is the way we want to keep it!)
c. Care: it isn’t enough to have compassion and make contact, we must minister to their need.
1) He cleansed and soothed the man’s wounds.
2) He bound them up and brought him to the inn for further care.
(Mat 20:28) “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
d. Cost: he was willing to pay.
1) A ministry that costs nothing accomplishes nothing.
2) It cost the Samaritan time, money, and effort.
3) He willingly paid even though there was no possibility of repayment.
4) Our salvation in Christ is free to us, but it cost our Lord!
Jesus asked him, “Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor…?” The lawyer responded, “He that shewed mercy on him.” Jesus commands, “Go and do thou likewise!”
What do we see when we view this lost and dying world? Our prayer ought to be as the songwriter expressed so effectively:
Let me see this world dear Lord as though I were looking through your eyes. A world of men who don’t want you Lord. But a world for which you died. Let me kneel with you in the garden. Blur my eyes with tears of agony. For if once I could see this world the way you see. I just know I’d Serve you more faithfully.
If you are here this morning without Christ, you need to come and accept Jesus as your Savior. Christians, has God spoken to your heart this morning? Why not let God have His way in our lives. Whatever the need today, come.