“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”
Luke 10:36-37 NLT
I had an accident the other week. I hit the curb turning the corner while taking my son to football practice. By the impact I knew I had damaged the wheel and axle. After surveying the damage I called my insurance company. The first person I talked to was robotic reading through his script as he asked me what happened. He tried to change his voice to sound empathetic when he asked, “Are you okay?” Then his voice fell flat again as he proceeded with the questions. Finally he transferred me to the one who would handle my claim.
I’m not making this up just to make you keep reading… but you’ll never guess who answered my call!!!
The man answered the phone and he said, “Hi, this is Jake and I will be handling your claim.” I had to pause. I went from agitated to encouraged. I said, “Is this Jake from State Farm?!” He said, “Yes, but I’m not wearing khakis!” Just like a good neighbor, Jake from State Farm was there.
When we see people in need what kind of neighbor are we? Do we investigate with rhetorical questions that lack empathy because you see so many people with needs? Or do we bring people hope because we are there to help handle their claim?
Jesus told a parable of a man on the side of the road that had been attacked by bandits, left for dead. A priest saw him and passed by on the other side. A temple assistant saw him, walked over and looked at him, then walked to the other side. But a despised Samaritan walked over and showed compassion. He was a good neighbor. Two religious people ignored the needs of the dying man, but a non-religious man stopped to help. Jesus said this man was a good neighbor. What made him a good neighbor?
- He didn’t allow racial difference to stop him from recognizing another human being in need of help. Sometimes we excuse ourselves from helping people that are of different races or classes. But there is only one race God expects us to care for and that is the human race.
- He soothed his wounds with oil and bandaged him up. He took the time to do something about the man’s wounds. Good neighbors do something for wounded people. They don’t close their eyes to wounds.
- He picked him up and gave him a ride to an extended stay. This Samaritan took him to the inn, took care of him and left money for his stay until he came back to check on him. Sometimes we have to pay it forward when we rightly discern that the person is in no condition to help themselves. Other times people may only need a hand up not a handout.
Just like Jake from State Farm this good neighbor handled his wounded neighbor’s claim. I’m so glad 2,000 years ago Jesus handled my claim. I was weary, wounded, and sad but Jesus made me glad. But Jesus took the worst of it. He was wounded for my transgression and bruised for my iniquities and the chastisement for my peace was upon him. When he died on the cross for our sins, his blood settled the claim.
Help me to be a good neighbor. If I can help somebody then my life will not be in vain. Give me empathy today and help me to do what is required of every follower of Jesus – to do justice, show mercy, and walk humbly with you God as we go to avoided places to bandage up wounded people.
In Jesus’ Name,