Have you ever heard the story of the Good Samaritan? It’s one of the best-known parables that Christ ever told. But you might not remember the situation that prompted him to tell it. While he was teaching, a lawyer asked Jesus how to inherit eternal life. Some translations read “he put him to the test.”
But Christ didn’t back down. He answered the lawyer with a question: “What does the law say?”
“‘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’” (Luke 10:27).
But the lawyer continued, asking Jesus who his neighbor was. His approach to “love” was to try and fit it into some kind of matrix, like he was adding facts and figures together. He wanted to know how far he had to go – where could he stop? But Jesus saw things differently. He told the story of the Good Samaritan, about a wounded Hebrew traveler rescued by his cultural enemy.
The story is a perfect illustration for how wildly creative God’s love for us really is. While the lawyer wanted to know where the line was for him to stop loving, Christ answered with a story that affirmed the concept that our Triune God’s mercy knows no boundaries. In Christ Jesus, we are called to a life of transformation. And through him, we become vessels pouring out his love and grace to this world. We are the Samaritans, the ones who are willing to show divine mercy to people, even if they don’t look like they’re part of our “tribe.”
I have to admit, my favorite part of the exchange is the ending. After telling the story, Christ sums up his point by telling the lawyer (and all gathered) to “Go and do likewise.” I think that’s all the encouragement that we need to go out and become Samaritans, bringing God’s reconciling grace to the world around us.
I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking of LIFE.