Lately we have been seeking to answer the question of how we walk in love. We have discussed what agape love looks like. We talked about loving in deed and in truth. In this post we are going to look at a very familiar story to see what love looks like in practice.
A Practical Story
25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”
27 The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”
29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.
33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’
36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.
37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”
Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.” Luke 10:25 – 37 NLT
In seeking to ascertain what was necessary to obtain eternal life, the expert in the Law said that it all came down to loving God and one’s neighbor. Jesus affirmed that this was indeed true. The expert evidently stumbled over loving his neighbor. Evidently he thought that some people were his neighbors and others were not. This sets the backdrop for Jesus’ story.
A Scandalous Story
Those of us who read the Scriptures from the stand point of a western mindset are scandalized at the actions of the priest and the temple assistant. How could they walk on by and leave a helpless victim on the side of the road? To those who were listening to the story from an eastern Jewish mindset, the actions of these men were perfectly normal. They may have thought the man was dead, therefore touching him would have made them ceremonially unclean and therefore unable to carry out their services.
Those listening to the story would have been scandalized by Jesus using a Samaritan as an example of loving one’s neighbor. Samaritans were detested because they were a mixed race, the result of the resettlement of the northern kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians. The Jews and Samaritans made ever effort to avoid one another.
Love in Practice
The Samaritan provide us with an epoch picture of love in practice. Think about it…
The Samaritan totally forgot about himself. He set all racial tensions aside. He lost all sight of the opinions of others. All his compassion saw was someone in desperate need.
The Samaritan gave of his time. He took the time to tend to the man’s wounds. He took the time to check him into an inn and negotiate for his care. He even pledged to take the time to check in with inn keeper in the future to make sure the account was settled.
The Samaritan even gave of his own resources to help the injured man. It was his wine that was used to disinfect his wounds. It was his oil that was applied to promote healing. It was his material that was used to make bandages. He put the injured man on his own donkey. The Samaritan used his own money to pay for the man’s care. He even pledged further resources is necessary.
This is what it looks like to love one’s neighbor as himself. It literally comes down to doing for others as you would have them to do for you.
Love moves one intentionally toward it’s object. Love moves us to do whatever is necessary to bring about the ultimate good of its object. That is why the story of the Good Samaritan is the perfect example. As we examine this story, we see the loving response of someone who is living in the Reign.