Luke 10:25-37

Read Luke 10:25-37
It wasn’t uncommon for Jesus to answer questions from followers or religious leaders with a parable or story. In the familiar passage of the Good Samaritan, Jesus responds to an expert in Jewish law, who was putting Jesus ‘to the test’. Standing with his religious peers, the lawyer, like many others, attempted to refute Jesus’ claims and to discredit him publicly. Looking to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘Who is my neighbor?’
 
We can notice a few observations from the passage. First, we recognize that the victim, on the road down from Jerusalem to Jericho, was innocent, he simply ‘fell among robbers’. Jesus mentions that three men, who were all traveling the same road, had passed by and ‘noticed’ the injured man. But only one, the Samaritan, ‘noticed’ and ‘felt compassion’. The Samaritan’s empathy and concern lead to personal sacrifice, of both time and resources. And in the end, the lawyer admitted that a true neighbor is the one who shows mercy.
 
The mention of the word ‘neighbor’ brings to mind the people who live near us, the families and individuals that live on our street, cul-de-sac or in our apartment building. Jesus challenges this. He helps us understand that a neighbor is simply one who is in our path. Whether we share years, days or moments, Jesus calls us to be attentive to others in our path and to show mercy and compassion. Last week, during a brief stop at Walmart, I noticed a new neighbor.
 
I entered the store for a head of lettuce and a bag of potting soil for my nine fledgling tomato plants and of course I ended up with a few extra items. The cashier scanned my groceries and cheerfully hunted down the UPC code on the gigantic bag of soil on the bottom of my cart. As she finished I asked casually, ‘How has your day been, so far?’ As soon as I had spoken, I remembered it was only 8:15 in the morning, and realizing I’d asked a really lame question, I smiled weakly.
 
The tall cashier stopped and looked directly at me, and her shoulders dropped as if all her troubles had just been placed on her back. She spoke quietly, ‘Some days, I just don’t know if it’s worth it.’ Shocked by her raw response, I leaned in. She continued, ‘I just don’t know. With all that’s going on, I just don’t know what to do. I have two boys. They are 3 and 5, and I just don’t know what to say to them. My three-year old comes in the house and tells me that the neighbor kids won’t play with him, because, well, because of the color of his skin. I just don’t know. I just don’t know what to tell him.’ Shocked by her openness, I responded with all I had in the moment. ‘I am so sorry. No mother should ever have to watch her child experience that. I am so very sorry.'
 
The conversation ended as the customer behind me caught her attention, she handed over my receipt, I thanked her and left. My new neighbor may not remember our brief conversation. But the honesty with which she shared her pain, and the fear she felt for her two little boys, will move me to once again ‘notice’ my neighbor.

Linda Miller | Ministry Development

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