The Good Neighbor

Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. …So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, …set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. …when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” – Luke 10:30; 33-37 (Please read all of the parable in Luke 10:25-37.)

Resul Mor is a modern day good Samaritan, who lives in Germany. He was on his way home from work when a man flagged him down and told him he needed help for his very ill wife. Resul took them to the hospital, and at the hospital, he was asked to sign a registration form while the husband went with his wife. You can imagine his shock though when he received a $9,263 bill for the woman’s treatment. According to the hospital, the form Resul signed also committed him to pay for the woman’s treatment if she could not pay. A German court has ruled that Resul must pay the bill. Resul says, “I didn’t expect her to not pay anything. I’m just an ordinary man who did someone a favor.”

Reading the parable of the Good Samaritan now is somewhat troubling for some, but in the time of Jesus this must have been not just shocking, but earth shaking. Imagine two people thought of as having the ultimate in human goodness, a priest, and a Levite, who did not stop to help. However, the Samaritan, and all Samaritans were hated by the Jews; and were thought to be as low as a half breed dog or worse, the Samaritan did stop to help. This person, this hated Samaritan according to Jesus was the one who was acting like a “neighbor” to the one who was “half dead.”

The question now for us is this: who is our neighbor, and will we act as a good neighbor ought to toward them? Will we be a good neighbor if it costs us something? Would we be a good neighbor if we knew it would cost us $9,263? It is unknown in today’s dollars exactly how much the Good Samaritan of the parable paid for the care of the man who was “half dead,” but it would not have been cheap. Would we be a good neighbor if it involved any possible risk to our own safety, or to that of our family? If you consider the situation of the wounded man of the parable you can see that there is danger involved for the Good Samaritan. The Priest and the Levite passed on the other side because they did not want to risk being attacked as that poor man had been. The Good Samaritan took a great risk to help a man who could do nothing in return for him.

In many ways, you see Jesus Himself as being the ultimate Good Samaritan. Jesus took the risk of putting on human flesh, being born into a peasant family, and paying with the ultimate cost of his life on the cross. He did that for us who have no way of repaying what He did for us. The question then becomes will we be Jesus to those that we encounter in this life?

(Are you a good neighbor?)

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