“But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘and who is my neighbor?”
– Luke 10:29
The lawyer who asked Jesus, “who is my neighbor” thought he was in a battle of the minds with a simple “Nazarene.” What he did not realize is that it was his Maker he was questioning. During their exchange, Jesus did not waste any time and went directly to the issue in the matter…it was the heart! As the discussion continued, the lawyer found himself provoked, convicted and stirred in his heart. His sin had been pointed out by the very scriptures he used in trying to defend himself.
This scribe knew the law, how to interpret and expound on it, and answered Jesus’ question about the scriptures correctly. When Jesus commended the knowledge he carried in his head, He challenged the scribe to perform it in his actions. It was at this point the exchange became real.
The scripture told him he must love his neighbor as himself, the challenge was to perform that action with a willing and loving heart. The offense was that Jesus implied this attorney did not love his neighbor. As any good lawyer would do, he wanted that word defined. He wanted justification and to be acquitted of this charge because he already viewed himself as a loving neighbor. This is where his sin was exposed, and his heart challenged and stirred.
Being neighborly towards those who are friendly toward us is easy. The point Jesus was making in the story of the “Good Samaritan” was not the question of “who is my neighbor” but rather “to whom should I be neighborly?” The answer was inescapable and straightforward, your neighbor is anyone in need even if we view them as an enemy. Once this point was made, Jesus told him to “go and do likewise.”
Who is your neighbor? Regardless of what they think of you or how they treat you, are you being neighborly towards them? Maybe Jesus is telling you to “go and do likewise.” After all, the Bible tells us that when we were Jesus’ enemies, He still died for us!
“But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.”
– Luke 6:35-36