Love Your Neighbor – by David Gooding
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR 10:30-37
Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan vv. 30 – 37
How to be neighborly? In the story the Samaritan offered mercy and love in tangible and costly ways. He saw the wounded man on the side of the road. He didn’t close his eyes and walk away. He allowed something to happen in his heart. He hadn’t become callused, abrasive and hard from the cruel encounters of the evils in life.
He did not run from his feelings. He felt compassion and identified with the man at that moment out of a heart of love. He acknowledged and deeply experienced his feelings of compassion. He was willing to risk his own safety. He came toward the man, taking his own life in his hands because he had no knowledge that the robbers had left the area. Moreover, when he came forward he realized this half-dead man was a Jew and his sworn enemy! There was no love lost between the Jews and the Samaritans. However, he went beyond his pent up racial, political and religious prejudices. He acted on what he knew the right thing to do. He bandaged up the wounds, pouring his own precious wine and oil on him.
The Good Samaritan put the man on his own beast and walked, looking for a place of refuge. He was willing to give up personal comfort and convenience to help an enemy in need. He brought him to an inn, therefore restricting his own plans and personal journey. He took personal care of the injured man and stayed the night in the inn, nursing the enemy back to life, and making sure he was going to live. He gave the innkeeper two-day’s wages and asked him to watch over the man, and if it cost more he would personally repay him. As a caregiver, he was willing to cover the expenses of the needy. He planned to return to follow-up on the injured man.
Jesus asked the lawyer which one proved to be neighborly in the story? “The one who showed mercy.” Mercy is the outward manifestation of pity; it assumes need on the part of him who receives it, and resources adequate to meet the need on the part of him who shows it. This word is used of God, who is rich in mercy toward the sinner, and who has provided salvation for all men.
It is obvious the Samaritan had a personal relationship with God, and because of that relationship, he was able to reach out to his needy enemy with the mercy of God. The lawyer was lacking in this one thing. He had never experienced God’s marvelous grace. All he could think of was legalism and merit. He was too busy justifying himself in the eyes of men and God.
Once a person has come to an intimate love relationship with Jesus Christ he is able to reach out to a depraved, lost dying world.
Who is the Good Samaritan in this story? It is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself! The Good Samaritan is Jesus our Kinsman Redeemer. He is our Redeemer. “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). The man who was beaten and left for dead is a picture of the ugliness of sin and depravity.
Our Redeemer had to be a near kinsman. He must be a blood relative. Jesus is our near kinsman through the incarnation. Jesus you are my kinsman redeemer. You have the right to redeem me. He became one of us by becoming flesh and dwelling among us. He is our nearest of kin. He has the power and the means to redeem. He owns the whole universe and therefore He has the purchase price. He is the spotless Son of God, born of a virgin. He is sinless and pure in the sight of God and man.
Moreover, He is willing to redeem us. “I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:15ff). “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father” (v. 18). He prayed to the Father, “Not my will, Thy will be done.” He went to the cross and died in our place. He was willing to die our death.
As our Redeemer He was willing to marry the widow. It is a permanent everlasting commitment to the Bride. We are the Bride of Christ. He will not divorce, abandon, or leave us. He will never forsake us. He will stay at our side and nurse us back to life! He is concerned for what is best for us.
Isaiah 53:3-6 reminds us that just as this despised and rejected Samaritan became the “savior” of the robber, so the despised and rejected Jesus became the Savior of all who trust in Him. “He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the shaming for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us have turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him”.
The Lord God saves us by grace alone through faith alone in the sacrificial death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ alone. Jesus is the only righteous man on this earth. He alone fulfilled the law perfectly. He took our sins upon Himself, bearing the curse of death which the law pronounced on us. By trusting in His death and resurrection on our behalf, our sins are forgiven and we receive the free gift of eternal life.
“For while we were helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. . . But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”. That is what our Kinsman did for us. Our Good Samaritan went to the cross and died in our place to give us eternal life.
This eternal life is not the result of our good works, not even being a good neighbor, but the result of God’s grace manifested through Jesus Christ. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast”.
What is Jesus saying to this Jewish lawyer and anyone else who thinks he can earn eternal life? The Jewish religious system was completely bankrupt. Law keeping was not the way to eternal life because no one is able to live up to the demands of the law. In order to be saved by law keeping, he must fulfill every requirement of the law all of the time, and with his whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. Not half-heartedly. Not as a hobby. Not as a religious fad. Not even as the most sincere religious, moral person the world has ever known.
The law can only condemn; it cannot save. The law is powerless to save you. The lawyer was guilty just as you and I are guilty of breaking the law. You cannot earn or merit eternal life no matter how good you think you are, or how religious you may be. It is an “inheritance.” It is a gift. It is not something you earn or do.
The Lord responded by reminding him of his question that eternal life is not given to men and women based on some religious activity. Eternal life is the fruit of establishing a loving relationship with the one and only living God. It is something you “inherit” because you are a member of His family. Once that relationship is established by faith and not by works, the Lord fills our lives with Himself and His love and enables us to not only love Him fully, but to love our neighbors as ourselves.
What shall I do to inherit eternal life? Nothing! Stop thinking you can do something to merit it. You get your inheritance through a relationship with God. You receive it because you are His child, born into His family spiritually by the new birth. It is by faith that it may all be by GRACE! It is God’s free gift. It is not by obedience, by merits or works. It is all by grace through faith.
Start believing that God came in the person of His Son Jesus Christ to save us from our sins. If you place your faith in Jesus as the only Savior, He will save you by His grace, and immediately give you the gift of eternal life. The moment you declare your spiritual bankruptcy and believe on Christ you inherit eternal life.
Romans 10:9–10 gives the only requirement for man to be saved. Read it carefully and ponder these words of the apostle Paul. He writes, if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life”. Put your name in the place of the word “world” and read the verse again. Replace the word “whoever” with your own name and read it a third time. Moreover, “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (v. 18). “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (v. 36).
You can receive God’s free gift of eternal life right now by confessing to Him your need and believing on Him as your personal Savior. You may find it helpful to pray this prayer if it comes from your heart. “Lord God I realize that I am unworthy of ever earning or meriting the salvation you freely give. I confess that I am a sinner and I deserve eternal separation from your holy presence. However, I realize that you love me and Jesus died on the cross for my sins. I ask you to be my Savior and give me eternal life. Thank you for this free gift.” The apostle Paul told the Roman jailer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved”.
Who is our neighbor? This passage also speaks to those of us who know Christ as our personal Savior. Our neighbor is the very next hurting person we meet, whether friend or enemy. God has enabled us to reach out with His love and mercy to a lost and hurting world. What are we to do to our neighbor in trouble? It becomes a joy to bind the wounds of a hurting and bleeding humanity. The Lord Jesus reaches out and touches His world through our loving hands. We become His eyes, His hands, His feet and His heart as we minister His grace in His name.
Don’t try to be a Samaritan unless you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Don’t try to be a Samaritan unless you are prepared to walk for and stand up against the atrocities in our communities, against the injustices against people of all colour and race, unless you are prepared to say to those in authority in our nation, enough is enough. Moreover, if you have a personal relationship with Jesus as Lord and Savior your “inheritance” is secure and your heart is already filled with love, mercy and power. Now you can be a good “Samaritan.” Someone has said, “Grace is the mother of compassion.” It begins with a changed life from the inside out. When we place our faith in God, then He comes and dwells in us, and His love begins to flow through us to others. That is the only way you can love your neighbor. Christ floods our hearts with His life. It is an exchanged life. He lives His life through us to reach a lost world. Amen.