Who is OUR neighbor? This passage gives is a clear answer to that question.Our neighbor may be totally different from us and many even be an enemy. In this case the needy man’s own people, the priest and the Levite passed by him while the enemy, the Samaritan, stopped to help. Our neighbor may be someone we have no obligation to help. Certainly, the priest and the Levite were duty bound to help their fellow Jew, but they did not. The Samaritan, with no ethnic or religious duty whatsoever, stopped to help. Our neighbor may be someone who poses potential risk or sacrifice to us if we help. The road to Jericho was a dangerous place to stop and help strangers. Our neighbor may be someone who doesn’t deserve our help and certainly cannot be expected to repay us. The Samaritan certainly did not know if he would ever see the money he spent returned.
So then, who is our neighbor? Short answer: everyone. All people, of all types, races, religions and personalities are our neighbors. Jesus has commanded that we love those people as we love ourselves. We are to deal kindly in our encounters with all our neighbors, as the Samaritan did with the wounded Jew. We are to show the kind of love Jesus showed for all humanity on the cross. He died not just for the lovable, but for all.
An extra thought
If Jesus had treated us the way we sometimes treat each other, where would we be?