23rd June 2018

So, Who Exactly Is My Neighbour? (Part 1) 

“It’s criminal to ignore a neighbour in need, but compassion for the poor—what a blessing!”
Proverbs 14:21 (MSG)

The story about the Good Samaritan that Jesus told has passed into folklore and indeed the meaning of the word Samaritan has been changed in modern English—now it is an organization that helps people who are in dire need, but this is not what it would convey to those listening then.

The Jews and the Samaritans hated each other and had done so for hundreds of years before the time of Jesus, yet, surprise, surprise, here in this parable he builds his story around a “Good Samaritan” who takes care of a wounded Jew whom he found on the road to Jericho.

Luke records this in his gospel (Luke 10:25-37), and it all hinges around the question posed by a lawyer in order to put Jesus down, in order to justify himself, “Who is my neighbour?” For him, God was the God of Israel and his neighbour was anyone who was an Israelite. But Jesus is telling him by means of this story that God is the God of grace for all people and his neighbour is anyone in need of his help!

As you read this parable you find that a Priest and a Levite have the opportunity to assist this wounded man, but both are too concerned about preserving their ceremonial purity at all costs—they didn’t want to become defiled because, after all, they were both serving God in the Temple! So they passed by on the other side. Then here comes this hated Samaritan, who is the hero, and who goes beyond the call of duty to help. The Samaritan binds up this Jew’s wounds, takes him to an inn and pays for him to stay there. He even tells the innkeeper, “If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back” (Verses 33-35).

At the conclusion of this parable Jesus asks the lawyer a direct question. Notice verses 36-37 here: “What do you think? Which of these three became a neighbour to the man attacked by robbers?” The lawyer replied, “The one who treated him kindly.” Notice also that he doesn’t say “the Samaritan”—obviously he couldn’t even speak this hated word. Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.” In other words, reach out to others, even those with whom you are at odds and become a neighbour to them. Reach out beyond the barriers of race and creed, in grace and mercy, for all those who are wounded along the road of life and don’t cross over to the other side—be a Good Samaritan!

Prayer
Tender Father, help us to reach out with your gracious love to others as we walk in step with your Spirit each and every day.
Amen

Study by Cliff Neill

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About the Author:
Cliff Neill is an Elder in Grace Communion Church Luton.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion Church Luton
Farley Hill Methodist Church
North Drift Way
Farley Hill
LUTON
LU1 5JE

Meeting Time:
Saturday 10:30am

Local Congregational Contact:
Harry Sullivan
Phone: 01908-582222
Email: harry_sullivan@wcg.org.uk

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