Heaven, he thought, it would be so great just to be in heaven. As a child he remembered hearing about this wonderful place when he was in Sunday school. He hoped it did exist, he hoped he would go there. In fact all he had was hope.
His mind wandered back to the 80’s. A great career, a beautiful wife, a condo with a view and a baby on the way. Everything was so great. He was content, at peace with the world. Then it happened: one mistake, then like a game of dominos, things began to fall one after another until everything was gone: All gone.
November winds were blowing with occasional gusts filled with freezing rain. The gusts lifted the leaves and scatted them everywhere. No pattern, just piling up here and there.
He laid on the bus bench, still and unaffected as the leaves slowly covered his body. He didn’t seem to notice anything around him he had a vague memory that his name was Sam, Sam something. Just then a group of teenagers on their way to school spotted him. They giggled at his disheveled appearance, and then one of the braver boys said lets see if that bum is dead! He cautiously approached and with a sense of bravado, he kicked Sam’s lifeless leg. Sam moaned and moved just enough that the teen group laughed and ran off.
Observing this childlike, yet cowardly act from across the street, the Pastor and Elder were walking to their church. The elder complained that having someone like this in the area was bad for “business”. People would not come to church if they had to walk around this “bum”. It made them uncomfortable. The Elder was considering calling the police to remove this distraction. After all, we have to keep up a prosperous presence so that people would trust enough to give generous donations. He then decided that this homeless man just wasn’t worth his time.
Luke 10:25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
This was a valid question, and many were wondering the same thing. Jesus reminded him that it was written:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,” and “your neighbor as yourself”:
The lawyer was wise enough to know this is the essence of the law. Now all the man has to do is to live it:
do this and you will live.
It is clear enough what it means to love God with all we are, this is something we can all understand.
But there has been much confusion about what it means to love
your neighbor as yourself.
This doesn’t mean that we must love ourselves before we can love anyone else; it means that in the same way we take care of ourselves and are concerned about our own interests, we should take care and have concern for the interests of others.
Then to clarify the , “And who is my neighbor?”
This brought a interesting question because usually neighbors were considered those who lived in a close proximity, but where did that boundary end? In many cases it is much easier to love a neighbor, because you knew them than to love a stranger, or even an enemy. Because we all live on this earth, we are all neighbors!! Jesus wanted to clarify this fact so he shared the following parable.
Jesus defines neighbor with an illustration called THE GOOD SAMATARIAN
A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves:
The road from Jerusalem to Jericho was infamous for crime and muggings. It wasn’t surprising to Jesus’ listeners that He set the story on this particular road.
Now by chance a certain priest came down that road: The priest and the Levite (both categories of religious officials) see their Jewish brother lying in his terrible state. But neither of them do anything. They both passed by on the other side.
But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion: When Jesus’ listeners heard about the priest and the Levite, the probably expected Jesus to say that a common Jewish man came and helped, that the story would be another way Jesus showed the corruption of the religious leaders were in his day. But Jesus shocks them by saying that the man who helped was a Samaritan. What was special about a Samaritan? Generally speaking, Jews and Samaritans despised each other both racially and religiously. The culture gave the Samaritan plenty of reasons to hate this Jewish man and pass him by.
Some rabbis taught that a Jew was forbidden to help a Gentile woman who was in distress giving birth; because if they succeeded, all they did was to help one more Gentile come into the world. They often thought that Samaritans were worse than other Gentiles were.
He had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him: Instead of passing by, the Samaritan loved him with a sacrificial love. He didn’t wait to be asked, for to see the need right in front of him was enough to compel him to action. He also gave freely of both his time and his resources.
The wine, containing alcohol, had an antiseptic effect on the man’s wounds. The oil would help to soothe the wounds, easing the pain. To set him on his own animal means that the Samaritan himself walked.
He took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper: It seems that two denarii would have provided for the man’s needs in the inn for at least two or three weeks.
3. (36-37) Jesus applies the parable.
Which of these three do you think was neighbor: According to the thinking of the day, the priest and the Levite were neighbor to the man who had been mugged. But they didn’t act like neighbors at all.
He who showed mercy on him: The lawyer can’t even bring himself to say the name “Samaritan” was true neighbor to the hurting man. We might have expected to be an enemy, but he was instead a neighbor, the one who showed mercy on him.
Obviously, the lawyer knew that he could no longer justify himself. He did not have this kind of love, a love that would go beyond what he wanted to think of as “neighbor.”
Go and do likewise: So, who is my neighbor? Who is the one I have to love? My neighbor is he one who others might consider my enemy. My neighbor is the one with a need right in front of me.
When you receive eternal life – God’s kind of life in you – God will give you the resources to love Him and other people as you should. You can’t do it apart from having His life in you.
BACK TO SAM AS HE LAY ON THE BENCH.
Now Sam saw a blue SUV pulling up, something sparked fear in his heart. He glanced at the old gang tattoo on his hand and memories of his teenage days in the street gang known as the bloods: welled back inside him. This blue SUV, could it be someone from the crypts? Was it someone from his past? He dreaded the impending beating that he would have to endure once again. This old hatred had never died on the streets. He remembered the vendetta that had been put out against him, those things never die.
As the blue SUV got closer and closer, a man jumped out, hints of the “day” were all over him. He ran to Sam and as the fallen, helpless man pulled away in fear. Oh the 70’s when blue and red were sworn enemies: The Bloods and Crypts. Could this former crypt be helping him even though he was a former blood? Oh the past had been so confusing, they hated because of a color, a silly color, yet this new man just comforted him. Now he was expecting a beating from this former sworn enemy, but instead he was receiving help! Comfort from this former gang member? What was happening? He wanted to call for help, but the pastor and elder had already passed him by.
The man lifted him into the van, and took him to the local Sheraton Inn. He checked him in and paid three weeks in advance. He left his credit card for room service. He dropped back into the hotel room and said: bye and see you later neighbor.
NOW WHO IS YOUR NEIGHBOR?
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Diane Dominguez Ministries
1333 W. Devon Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60660