In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “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.” Luke 10:30-37 NIV

In the last two months, we have seen examples of people reaching out and displaying love to neighbors, friends, loved ones and strangers amid this worldwide pandemic. We have also seen people acting selfishly, recklessly, and with a total disregard for others’ lives and safety. If we are believers in Christ, then we have to look to Jesus, his teachings, and strive to act accordingly.

In Luke 10:27 Jesus asks the expert in the law to tell him what the scripture says we must do to inherit eternal life. “‘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, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’” was the answer the expert in the law gave. He quotes Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18, which were viewed as the two commandments that summarized the whole law. The questioner knew this answer and didn’t need to ask the question. But in Luke 10:29 he asks Jesus for clarification, “And who is my neighbor?”

Actually, this was the real question that expert in the law wanted answered. In this parable, Jesus tells us a Samaritan, someone who was considered to be a half-breed, a pagan, and an enemy of the Jewish people – displayed kindness, compassion, generosity, and selflessness toward a Jewish man. The Samaritan on the Jericho road had no obligation to help the injured man, but he interrupted his own schedule, inconvenienced himself, gave his own money, wine, and oil to help the injured man, and didn’t expect any repayment.

In Luke 10:36-37 Jesus asks the expert in the law to tell him which of the people in the parable acted as a neighbor? The expert replies, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus concludes this parable with, “Go and do likewise.” I believe we, as believers in Christ, are also called to go and do likewise.

Here are some ideas of ways you can show compassion and love to neighbors, and strangers alike. Write a letter, email, text or call someone needing encouragement, perhaps a person currently isolated in a nursing home. Pick up food from the food bank to share with neighbors or someone who is currently unemployed. Offer to grocery shop for someone who is over 65 or immunocompromised. Put another’s needs above your own – be a neighbor, go and do likewise.

By Grace Hunter