“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
The Perfect Neighbor
A question started all of this. Someone had asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” To answer, Jesus told a story about a man attacked while traveling. He was stripped, beaten, and left for dead.
Two men discovered him on the road. And even though they both shared the same race, culture, and religion as the victim, they both passed him by without helping him. But then a third man encountered him—a Samaritan. In Jesus’ day, the Jews and Samaritans did not get along. In fact, no one would have considered this Samaritan to be the victim’s neighbor.
Yet he was the one who acted like a neighbor to the wounded man. He treated his injuries, put him on a donkey, and brought him to an inn. He spent all night taking care of him, then paid the innkeeper to continue to care for him.
It is easy to miss Jesus’ point here and to think that all Jesus is telling us is that we need to be more like the Good Samaritan. But when Jesus said, “Go and do likewise,” he set an impossibly high standard. It is not possible to love your neighbor the way that God commands.
Thank God, then, that Jesus is the perfect neighbor. He went out of his way to help you when you were dead in your sins. He obeyed God’s law perfectly as your Substitute, so his perfect obedience counts as yours. He also sacrificed his life for you so that all your sins are forgiven.
What a loving Lord! Knowing we could never live up to God’s perfect law, he lived up to it in our place. May this motivate us to serve every person he brings into our lives, showing them the same kind of mercy and love he has shown us.
Lord Jesus, make me more like you, that I grow in love for my neighbor. Amen.