To recap last week’s introductory post for our “love talk” series, here’s a photo verse that says it all:
36 “Teacher,” he asked, “which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and the most important commandment. 39 The second most important commandment is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ 40 The whole Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets depend on these two commandments.” ~Matthew 22:36-40
In marketing, you cannot meet your goals if you do not know your target market. As Christians, our goal is to obey God’s commandments. So he said, love the Lord, and love your neighbor. In the first command, it’s quite easy to point who should be the object of our love: God. But in the second, we might struggle to find out who those “neighbors” are. To whom was Jesus referring to when he said “love your neighbors” or “love others”? Thankfully, someone in the New Testament had this same question in his mind and asked Jesus. Let us see how Jesus answered him.
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?” he 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?”
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.”
In this short passage, which I know is not new to many of us, we see how simple Jesus’ answer is. But most often, we find it difficult to accept.
At that time, the relationship between the Jews and Samaritans was one of hostility because of some bad things that happened in the past. They generally despised each other. But in this parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus clearly expressed how he wants us to extend love even to those who are not of our own race/ethnicity, or of the same belief or church denomination, and even to those whom we consider enemies (I hope we do not have one).
Our neighbors are not just our brothers and sisters in Christ. They are not just our fellow countrymen. They are not just the people whom you see every Sunday inside your church. Our neighbors are everywhere: that person at the cashier, that old lady begging for food, that plumber who always fixes your sink and toilet, that blogger from the other side of the globe…they’re all around us.
In fact, if we look closely to what the Samaritan did with the Jew (paid for him, took care of him, and would return for him), we realize that he perfectly resembles what Jesus did for us. We were children of God’s wrath (Ephesians 2:3) because of our sins. However, because of his great love for us, he paid for our sins when he shed his blood on the cross and took away our guilt and shame (1 John 4:10). He is taking care of us until now (Romans 8:28). He never leaves us. And we know he promised to return for us (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
And with this comparison, we see that Jesus wants us to follow his example of love. And we can only do so if we ourselves have experienced that kind of love from God. Let us take time to reflect and think of the people around us. We were undeserving of God’s love, and yet, he chose to pour it out on us. May He also give us the heart of Jesus so we may love others as well at any cost.
- The Good Samaritan Luke 10:25-37
- Parables about Love and Forgiveness
- How to love like Jesus
- The first and second of being a child of God
Next week, let us look at the weight of love Jesus wants us to show to our neighbors.
You can see more of my Christian blog posts in my personal WordPress site: Notes from Moon