by Pastor Mark Jordan
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’ The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him. Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:36-37, NIV)
Today we conclude our recent journey through what it means to be a neighbor. I hope you enjoyed this series of daily water devotions, or at least found them helpful. I certainly recommend going back and looking at them to see the full evolution of how this series took shape, both here in the devotions, as well as in teaching from Church at The Well in the worship gatherings.
As we conclude, I want to bring us full circle to where we began, looking at elements from Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan. The context for that teaching originated in an expert of the Law asking Jesus about the greatest of all the laws. The answer came as loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving your neighbor as you love yourself. The expert then asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor? Jesus then told the parable, offering the unlikeliest of heroes, a Samaritan. We pick up with today’s verse, where after the story, Jesus countered the expert’s question with his own, “Who was a neighbor?” The expert answered, the one who had mercy on him. In other translations, we read the expert say, “the one who showed kindness.” You put these two together, and we see the indisputable answer that a neighbor is anyone to whom you can show kindness and mercy. Anyone.
To me, the most poignant part of this whole exchange is Jesus’ final response to the expert in the Law as he said, “Go and do likewise.” Remember, this whole encounter began as a way to test, and hopefully trap, Jesus. He knew it, but through his own kindness and mercy, turned the tables to make neighborliness all about showing kindness and mercy, regardless of where you are, and regardless of those with whom you come in contact. This is the message we are to take away from Jesus’ teaching, with the action item to go and do likewise.
So how does this look in your daily life? Where are the places you go, and the people you meet, where you find it a challenge at best to be kind and merciful? How might this impact those places and people? It’s trasnformative, that’s for sure…not just for them, but for you, too. So, go and do likewise…you’ll be glad that you did.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for the example of Jesus, who was able to show kindness and mercy wherever he was and with everyone he met…even those who didn’t have his best interest at heart. I confess how hard this can be, but ask for your help so I may be kind and merciful everywhere I go and with everyone I meet. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.