Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’” (Luke 10:30-36).
It may have never occurred to you, but Jesus loved His neighbors perfectly when He was here on earth. The gospel accounts reveal His love of neighbor. One of the greatest demonstrations of this kind of love is revealed in this story of the Good Samaritan told by Jesus to an expert in the Law.
His intent was to test Jesus and justify himself by asking, “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:25-29). Jesus points out that the two religious leaders (priest and Levite) in the story avoided caring for the man on the side of the road who was beaten, robbed, and left for dead. It is veiled, but if you look closely you will see that Jesus used the Samaritan, the most despised in society at that time, to portray the way He loved people in comparison to that of the religious leaders of his day.
Jesus was not one to toot His own horn, so He wrapped something about Himself in the story of the Good Samaritan. You will find in this story a picture of Jesus’ life of love. More importantly, Jesus reveals the kind of love He showed to all of us in this narrative. Notice the comparisons between the Samaritan and Jesus.
The Samaritan (An Outcast) Jesus (An Outcast)
– The Samaritan took pity on him – Jesus took pity on us.
– He came near to him – He came near to us in the incarnation
– He bandaged & anointed him – He bandaged us and
anointed us with His Spirit
– He paid the price for him – He paid the price for us.
– He told the innkeeper he would return – He said He would return for us.
At the close of the story, Jesus asks the expert in the law,” “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.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:36-38) In other words, Jesus was saying, go and do what I have done.
This is what the Lord is calling us to, to love people the way He has loved us. This is what will make a difference in our relationship with those we spend time with in our neighborhoods during the pandemic and where work or go to school.
Jesus’ Love in a Neighborhood
In some cases, we may be asked by the Lord during the pandemic to do something that may violate the six-foot social distancing rule. In other words, we may have to do something for a neighbor that may require risk. There was a woman in a neighborhood who was deeply stressed after an incident her husband had in their garage. Her husband has life threatening health issues and had a severe cold for the last two weeks.
As he was backing his vehicle out of his garage, he thought the garage door was all the way up, but it wasn’t. He backed his car into the roll-up garage door and literally pushed it off the rollers and outside of the garage. His wife had called a garage door repair shop and they said they would come out to repair the door, but it was getting late and they never showed up. She was not only concerned that the garage door was damaged and open to anyone driving by, she was fearful of a break in during the night, because of recent home invasions.
One of their neighbors nearby, we’ll call him Jim, heard about this and went up to see if he could help. When he arrived, he found the neighbor’s wife attempting to use a pair of pliers to repair the damage. There was no way she was going to fix the garage door. He offered to help, but she was reluctant. After some coaxing she allowed him to give her a hand. As he was working on the rollers he was conscience of the six-foot rule of social distancing, but cast fate to the wind and helped her anyway.
After a while, he realized his own limitation in fixing the door and reached out to a neighbor a couple of blocks away, who we’ll call Bob. He is a retired school bus mechanic. Bob is one of those kind of guys that loves to tackle situations like this. He is like a soldier who has no fear. However, his wife was quite concerned about him helping, considering the pandemic. Bob grabbed his tools and the two of these men went up the street to help their neighbor. When they arrived, Bob sized up the situation and what was needed to get the damaged door back on its rollers and functioning. The two men worked together and then another neighbor from across pitched in. Bob used his crowbar to get the door back in alignment. This wife was relieved that the door could be closed and couldn’t thank everyone enough for getting the door shut.
As the guys walked back to Bob’s house, he said to his neighbor, “You have to pray for me. My wife wasn’t at all pleased that I did this. In normal circumstances, she would have been more than happy that I would help a neighbor.”
Like in the story of the Good Samaritan, sometimes loving our neighbors can be life threatening. During the pandemic, we need to hear from the Lord on situations like this and let Him lead us to what He is calling us to do. When I was in Thailand during the Vietnam War, there were those who were adrenalin junkies who liked to put themselves in harm’s way. This is not what we should be doing. We should hear from the Lord in matters like this and then His love compel will us to care for a neighbor in distress or need.
Jesus’ love on Campus
Loving like Jesus applies to all contexts where God has placed us, not just in our neighborhoods. Dallas Willard, a dear friend and well known philosophy professor showed this kind of love while he was a teacher at USC. He was loved and respected by students and faculty alike. I heard a colleague speak about Dallas at one of his memorial services of how Dallas impacted his life and eventually brought him into a relationship with the Lord.
He pointed out that they worked together on the campus and traveled together while working in Europe during a summer. Through this trip the professor pointed out how he was able to observe Dallas’ life. After many years, Dallas and his wife Jane invited him over for dinner.
During the conversation that evening this professor was reading over one of Dallas’ books that was just released. As he read and was in conversation with the Willards, his eyes were opened to the truth of the gospel and he gave his life to the Lord and he began his journey. It took time, lots of time, but that is what is needed if we want to see people come into God’s kingdom. We need to love them and patiently wait for the Lord to open their hearts to the things of God. God is faithful and He will provide the opportunity in due time.
A Time for reflection
Whether it is in a neighborhood or on a university campus or where God has placed us, God wants to use us to touch the lives of people. Who is the Lord putting on your heart to actively love where you live, work, go to school, or play? List the names of those He has put on your heart below.
Jesus told us, “…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good (beautiful) deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). I remember before I was a believer, Dave McNeal, the one who led me to the Lord, gave me a significant gift that helped open my eyes to Jesus…I still have that gift fifty years later, because God used it to open my heart to Him. List unique ways in which you can begin to love those you listed to help open their eyes so our Father is glorified.