Are You A Neighbor? Mark 12:28-34; Luke 10:29-37
The rabbis documented a total of 613 commands in the Mosaic Law. Since no one could possibly keep them all, the Pharisees taught that the Jews needed to give attention particularly to the "heavy" (weightier or more important) ones.
One of the teachers of the law came and asked Jesus, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" Jesus answered the question and followed it up with the second greatest command to love your neighbor as yourself.
In Luke 10:29, the expert in the Mosaic Law sought to justify himself (i.e., he had fulfilled the demand of the second greatest command) by asking, “Who is my neighbor?” … thus implying that there were non-neighbors to whom he need not love. By definition, neighbor is one who is near. The Jews interpreted “neighbor” to mean a fellow Jew thus excluding Samaritans and foreigners.
In response, Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan. One would assume that the neighbor in the parable is the man who was robbed, beaten and left for dead. But note Jesus’ question, “Which of these three (the priest, the Levite or the Samaritan) do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" Jesus turned the tables around. Instead of answering the question, “Who is my neighbor?” He implicitly asked, “Are you a neighbor?” (Luke 10:36-37)
Spiritual Exercise: How can you be a good neighbor? How can you show grace and mercy toward others in need and thus obey the second greatest command?
Remove from me the sin of partiality and
help me see every man made in Your likeness.
Cause my love for man to abound and
overflow in practical ways.