The question that had been asked was, “How can I find eternal life?” It had been designed more as a test by a legal expert than a sincere question from what searching for truth. Jesus rarely answered a question, directly. He always asked a question in return, told a story, or did both. And he does both on this occaision. First, he asks, ‘What does the law say?”
And the expert in the law says, ‘You shall love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus said, “That is the right answer.” So the legal expert pressed it and said, “Then who is my neighbor?” And Jesus tells a story.
The story is found in Luke 10:30-37. It is a story we call the “Good Samaritan.” The Jews absolutely hated the Samaritans. The Samaritans were a racially mixed group. They were half-breeds, so not pure spiritually. And in this story a Jewish man is mugged and left for dead on the side of the road by robbers and thieves. A priest and then a Levite pass by but do nothing to help. In fact, they go out of their way to avoid the man in need. What a tragic picture of a religion of words.
In a little while, the enemy of the Jews, the hated by the Jews, a Samaritan comes by. Ironically, he is moved with compassion and cares for the man. He gives of his time and his money to meet the man’s needs. Jesus asks, “Who is a neighbor in this story?” And the answer: The one who showed mercy. What does this teach us about the true nature of love?