Who Is Moving In?
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Luke 10:29
My family and I have moved a few times in our lives. It is always exciting moving to a new city or a new neighborhood. But, along with the move comes a new curiosity. Neighbors peer out their windows wondering who is moving in. You stand, looking around at the neighbors’ houses wondering what they are like. Curiosity is at its peak.
I remember when we moved to the farm twenty years ago. We were wandering around the place and came to the property line of Mr. Dink Williams, who had lived on this land his whole life. I ambled up to the gate, looked across and introduced myself at a distance and I still remember the first words he spoke to me. “All I want is a good neighbor.” I loved that old man until the day he died; and still do. He was curious and I was curious, but all he wanted was a good neighbor; and so did I.
In our text, a lawyer asked what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus pointed him back to the law and asked him what it said. The resounding answer rolled from the lips of the lawyer, “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.”
In an attempt to justify himself and not leave himself open to have to pal around with the “undesirable” of society, the lawyer asked his second question. “Who is my neighbor?”
It was here that Jesus gave the ultimate testimony of who was moving in. He began to tell the parable of the Good Samaritan. Of all the people in the world a Jew of that day would not consider a good neighbor, it was a Samaritan. The Jews of that day despised Samaritans, and for the most part, the Samaritans didn’t feel a whole lot different about the Jews.
In the story, a man gets robbed, beaten and left for dead. A priest passes by on the other side of the road because he was just too important to help out. Then, a Levite, the tribe from whom the priest came, also passed him by and left him to die. Then, a Samaritan comes along, tends to the man, takes him to get better care and pays the bill. When asked by Jesus which of the three would be considered the neighbor to the man, the lawyer, without stating the neighborhood from which he came, named the Samaritan as the one who had mercy on him.
Jesus, at this point, simply said, “Go and do likewise.” The lawyer, speechless from the answer, realized with Jesus that race and position were not what defines a neighbor. A good neighbor is one who does what needs doing, just the way Jesus did for us. His world was turned upside down and his neighborhood just grew. Now, who is moving in?