Verse of the Day Devotion: Luke 10:36
“Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” – Luke 10:36
This question was asked by Jesus to a lawyer who had previously asked the question, “Who is my neighbor?” A lawyer as described here is different than our modern-day lawyers. Both are experts in the Law, however, to first century Jewish lawyers it referred to the Mosaic Law. They essentially fulfilled the same role as a Scribe.
So it starts by this lawyer asking Jesus a question. “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Luke 10:25. Notice the words in verse 21, “to put Him to the test”. He was not asking Jesus because he wanted to learn something, but to confuse Him, wanting Jesus to, if possible, to contradict some of the requirements of the Law. However, Jesus did not fall for it and answered him with two questions. “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” Luke 10:26b. The lawyer then answers as you would expect as a teacher of the Mosaic Law. “And he answered, 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.” Deuteronomy 6:4, Leviticus 19:18. “And he said to him, You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” Luke 10:28. “But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, And who is my neighbor?” Luke 10:29. The lawyer wanted to let Jesus know he was a righteous man and always kept the Law, just as a lawyer would do.
Jesus answers this with a parable which tells the story of a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. This man was robbed of all he had, including his clothing and was beaten nearly to death. Along comes a priest who showed no love or compassion for the man by failing to help him and passing on the other side of the road so as not to get involved. The next person to pass by is a Levite who does exactly what the priest did: he passes by without showing any compassion. These are two people who would have known the law, but they chose not to follow it.
Finally a Samaritan comes by, the one least likely to have helped him in the Lawyers eyes, because they were considered a low class of people by the Jews. There is no indication as to whether the victim was a Jew of Gentile, but it made no difference to the Samaritan. He saw only a person in dire need of assistance, and assist him he did, above and beyond the minimum required. He dresses the man’s wounds with wine (to disinfect) and oil (to sooth the pain). He puts the man on his animal and takes him to an inn for a time of healing and pays the innkeeper with his own money. He then goes beyond common decency and tells the innkeeper to take good care of the man, and he would pay for any extra expenses on his return trip. Jesus then asked the Lawyer a question, as found in out our focus verse, which disarmed his prejudice. “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?“ Luke 10:36. And honestly he had to answer, “He said, The one who showed him mercy. And Jesus said to him, You go, and do likewise.” Luke 10:37.
The Lawyer’s prejudice would not permit him to name the Samaritan, yet his conscience obliged him to acknowledge that he was the only righteous person of the three. Jesus told him to be even as those whom he despised because they did the right thing, whereas those who were of his people did not. However, his “Jewish” prejudice would not permit him to name the Samaritan, but there was no impropriety, even in his view, in saying that the man who showed so much mercy was really the neighbor to the afflicted, and not he who professed to be his neighbor but who would do nothing to help.
The major thought here is that our neighbor is anyone we come across, just as the Samaritan came across the man on the side of the road. It does not matter if we know them or not, if they are kind to us or a part of a group that believes contrary to our beliefs or has contempt for us and our views. We are called to love everyone, no matter what. We are to love as Jesus loved; to love everyone no matter who they are or what they have ever done. If someone is in need, do what is necessary to help them. Shake off all prejudices and love as Jesus did. And if we can show the love we have, we can then make a difference in their lives that can bring them to Christ, or if already a Christian show them what this Christian life is truly all about.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.