Will You be My Neighbor?

(Luke 10:25-21) Someone challenges Jesus on the definition of who a neighbor is, and His response leaves the man stunned.

A woman holding out her hand to a man.
Photo by Rémi Walle on Unsplash

This week’s sauce is meant to be shared. It has a communal and neighborly flair to it. But, it begins a little spicy.

In this scene, an “expert in the law” of Moses (the Torah) wants to test Jesus.

Today’s dab sets the scene, and we will explore Jesus’s profound answer throughout the week.

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?

“What is written in the Law?” [Jesus] replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered, “‘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.’”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Luke 10:25-29 (NIV)

The expert in the law knew the correct answer.

He quoted what’s known as the Shema (which means “Listen!” in Hebrew). It’s the cornerstone verse of the Old Testament. Even Jesus agrees “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:40).

But Jesus commands, “Do this and you will live.” In other words, sheer knowledge is not enough.

Who is my neighbor?

The expert in the law wants to know who really counts as his “neighbor” and therefore justify himself in his own eyes.

The question “Who is my neighbor?” is a profound challenge for us as well. As we encounter Jesus’s answer this week, it would be easy to brush it off as an answer for someone else from a long time ago.

But the parables of Christ are meant to challenge all of His listeners.

So, until tomorrow: Who is your neighbor?

The question “Who is my neighbor?” is a profound challenge for us as well.

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