by Josiah Potts
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Pic by Eric Ewing
Three of the four Gospels give an account of a religious scholar asking Jesus which is the most important commandment. Matthew 22:37 is my favorite response; ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ He goes on to say the second part is equally as important as the first. He ends his statement with: “The entire law and all that it demands of the prophets are based on these TWO commandments.”
The Gospel of Luke gives the account of a religious leader who asked what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus graciously reminds him of these commandments. The scholar inquires, “Who is my neighbor?” What shock he must have felt when Jesus spoke of the Good Samaritan: a man who was on his way to Jericho and was mugged. (This road was known to be a dangerous passage.)
They beat him, took everything, and left him for dead. Two different religious leaders passed by and offered no assistance. A traveler from Samaria passed by and took notice. Not only did he attend to the immediate needs, he created a way for the man to fully recover. He put the injured man up in an inn and agreed to pay any expense incurred.
During this time, Samaritans were treated as second class citizens; not only were they ostracized because of their race, but also of where and how they chose to worship. The Samaritan could have been completely justified in ignoring the plight of this man. He may have also realized the potential threat to his own safety; however, the needs of the hurting outweighed the social stigma or his fear of potential danger. He willingly took on extra responsibilities that could have made him more susceptible to danger.
After Jesus tells this story, He asks the religious scholar who he thinks was the neighbor to the injured man. The scholar responded that the one who showed mercy was the neighbor. Jesus says: “Go and do likewise.” I think what fueled the Samaritan's Christ-like response was that he saw past their differences and saw the man for who he truly was: God’s creation. When humanity begins to understand the common denominator that we all share, we have the ability to see past the things that could potentially separate us. Christ-like people do not pick and choose who deserves help. We vehemently respond to those who are in need.
The Jesus we follow healed the sick, hung out with the social and religious outcasts, and invited His own betrayer into His close circle of friends. He placed the same value on every human by laying down His own life in the most extravagant display of love and acceptance.
When fear or apathy determines our response to people in need, we become more like the religious leaders who were unconcerned, or too afraid to get involved. When we are dealing with hurting and broken people, it is going to be messy. We may get blood stained, inconvenienced or pay more than our fair share. The right thing to do could cost everything. We risk it all because Jesus showed us that every individual is worth the sacrifice.