25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii[a] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
— Luke 10:25-37 ESV

a story of compassion

The Parable of the Good Samaritan begins with the lawyer asking Jesus what he needed to do to have eternal life. In response, Jesus simply asks what the lawyer thinks, and the lawyer got it right! Have you ever had the moment in class where you answer your professor correctly because you had done your reading and prepared for class? What an amazing feeling is that! I bet that is how the lawyer felt. In verse 29, the lawyer asks Jesus another question, “Who is my neighbor?” In this context, neighbor means friend. This is where Jesus begins the story of the Good Samaritan. He tells of two men who passed by a beaten man and one man, the Samaritan, who stopped for the beaten man. The parable reads in verse 33 that not only did the Samaritan man stop, but he had compassion on him. Compassion is recognizing the suffering of another and then taking action to help. In the next verses, the lawyer makes the connection that one of Jesus’s desires for us is to have compassion for the hurting, or our “neighbor.” I bet the lawyer felt that feeling of being right in class again!

Jesus loves to lead us

One of my most favorite things about Jesus is that He loves to lead us. He loves to lead us to the answer. He isn’t harsh. He isn’t a bully. He doesn’t force us into anything. He’s gentle and He is kind. He guides us to the answer. We see all of this through relationship with Him. All we have to do is ask Him for the answer. 

In verse 36, Jesus asks the lawyer who he thinks was a “neighbor” (or friend) to the fallen man. In verse 37, the lawyer answers his own question with “the one who showed him mercy.” Jesus lead the Samaritan man to the answer. And I truly believe that if we ask Jesus to lead us to the answer, He will. Let’s be a people who ask.

pray

My prayer for you is that you would be able to approach Jesus by asking Him the questions you want answered. I pray that you would come into a new understanding of what a relationship with Jesus looks like, that it would be easy to learn from Him by asking Him questions. Secondly, I ask that compassion would flow from you, that you would stop and listen, or stop and help, or stop and ask, when you see someone in need. I pray that we would become a people who stop for the broken and the hurting – that we would have an increase of compassion on the people we see every day. Amen.

- Allison Peden