Sometimes the lawyer in this story irritates me. Luke 10:25 says that the lawyer wants to test Jesus, and verse 29 describes the lawyer’s desire to justify himself. I want to believe that if I had been there, physically present with Jesus, I would have hung on every word and rejoiced in Jesus’ amazing presence. However, I have to admit that I might actually have been adversarial and combative like the lawyer.
Jesus answers the lawyer kindly and straightforwardly in a way that has stood the test of time. How many Christians over the past two thousand years have been challenged by the story of the Samaritan who went out of his way to help someone who belonged to a culture and religion at odds with his own?
The key moment comes in verse 36 when Jesus asks the lawyer who in the story acted like a neighbor to the man who was robbed. We can think of “neighbor” here as a verb in order to paraphrase Jesus’ question: “Who neighbored the man?”
The Samaritan, in his acts of neighboring, bandaged the man’s wounds, carried him on an animal to an inn, cared for him, paid the innkeeper for further care, and promised to come back to pay for any additional costs. These extravagantly caring actions, motivated by the pity in the heart of the Samaritan, show the kind of love involved in neighboring.
Take some time to consider the various people in your neighborhood—at church, at work, in sports clubs, book groups, Bible studies, and the many other settings in your life. Ask yourself what it means to neighbor them as a form of fruit that comes from love of God and love of neighbor.
Jesus, our Savior and friend, help us receive your teaching with open hearts. We want to love you with our whole selves. We ask that our love for you flow into the fruit of true neighboring. Amen.
Amos is a farmer called by God to deliver a message to Jeroboam, the king of Israel (the northern kingdom in the divided monarchy). Because the king has not listened to the warnings from God, judgment will come. The psalmist also warns of judgment, in this case for those who oppress the weak and needy and fail to protect them from the wicked. Such heartless people will surely be brought low by God. The opening to the letter to the Colossians is a prayer of thanksgiving for their faith in Christ and the spiritual fruit they are producing in the world. The parable in the Gospel reading challenges our human tendency to ignore need. Jesus teaches that mercy should overcome any reason we might find to harden our hearts.
Read Amos 7:7-17. Look for God’s plumb line in the world. In what ways is the ground you stand on askew?
Read Psalm 82. If you sit on the council of the Most High, how does this change your perspective on the world?
Read Colossians 1:1-14. Prayers of mere words are just the beginning of prayer. To what prayerful actions do your prayerful words call you?
Read Luke 10:25-37. The author writes, “Even those trying to be faithful walk askew.” Consider how you live out Jesus’ call to love your neighbor.
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