I love the guy questioning Jesus in the passage this morning. This guy already has in mind what he wants Jesus to say. Much like I do at times, he goes to God looking to justify his behavior rather than conform himself to God’s will. Jesus says “love your neighbor.” The expert says, “not a problem.. who’s my neighbor?” He’s fishing for something like: “all the other Jews of course” or “the guys who lives on your street, obviously.” Jesus answers the question with a story.
Jesus tells the story of a man on a journey. The guy gets mugged, which would have been every travelers worst fear back then. They rob him and leave him for dead. A priest and one of his countrymen walks by but they’re to self-absorbed to help. Then walks by a Samaritan, a mortal enemy of the Jews. This Samaritan treats the man’s wounds and pays for his room and board at a local bed and breakfast. Jesus ends the story by asking, okay.. who is the travelers neighbor? Under any other circumstance the answer would have been “the priest” or “the Levite.” In this case though, the answer is obvious.. and it stings; the Samaritan was the travelers neighbor.
The obvious truth here is that we are commanded to love EVERYONE, not just those who are culturally similar. You don’t like the Tea Party? Mmm.. bummer, you need to love them. How about our president? Yep, him too. Vladimir Putin? Yup. Growing up I lived next door to a drug dealer; absolutely him as well. That jerk at work; of course. Don’t get me wrong, loving someone doesn’t mean we pretend everything is okay, in fact, love often demands the opposite. The truth is however, we need to be just as concerned with those around us as we are ourselves, whoever they might be. Who do you need to love today?