Go and Do Likewise: Jesus and Ethics

Who is your Neighbor?

Who is my neighbor? Many Christians struggle with this question. We know the answer, yet it is difficult for us to accept anyone outside of our family, religious, political and social circles as neighbor. Still, this backward thinking is not a new phenomenon. As a matter of fact, that is exactly how the religious leaders of Jesus’ time felt. They were wrong then, and you are wrong now.

Jesus was and is the ultimate teacher. He knows how to break things down so ordinary people can understand. Hence the reason He used the parable of the Good Samaritan to answer an expert in the Mosaic Law, when he asked: “Who is my neighbor?”

Here is how Luke describe the encounter: Luke 10:25-37, “25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Jesus, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 Jesus said to him, “What does the law say and how do you interpret it?”

27 The lawyer answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”

28 And Jesus said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”

29 But he, wanting to prove himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ 36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”

37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”