Welcome to the Neighborhood

Bible Book: Luke  10 : 25-37
Subject: Love, Christian
Series: Points in the Parables

On Saturday, June 23rd of this year, the people of Reno, Nevada celebrated, for the second year in a row, a holiday they have created called “Get to Know Your Neighbor Day”. On this day, communities throughout Reno are encouraged to plan parties, BBQ’s, and other events that will bring together the members of each neighborhood, for the purpose of “…living in a stronger, safer, and more caring neighborhood.”i

I don’t know much about Reno’s new holiday, but I do know that getting to know your neighbor is an issue that was addressed by the Lord Jesus some 2,000 years ago.

In Luke chapter 10, and verse 29, an expert in religious law posed an interesting question to Christ. He asked, “…who is my neighbor?”

The Lord Jesus had affirmed to the man that the two greatest commandments of Scripture were to love the Lord God supremely, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

It is on the heels of this principle that the lawyer asks the Lord to identify his neighbor. In response to the question in verse 29, the Lord Jesus gives one of the most recognizable and memorable stories in all of the Bible.

The story is a parable that we know as “The Good Samaritan”. It is a simple, and yet eternally profound story that tells about a Samaritan man that went out of his way to help someone in need.

Because it is a parable, we know that the Lord told this story with the intention of driving home a particular lesson. There is something for us to learn from this story.

In this story, the Lord Jesus reveals to us that we are a part of a much larger neighborhood than the few houses and people that live around us.

As we approach the familiar story, we are interested in uncovering the point in this parable. To do so, I want us to ask three question in regards to this story. Notice first of all this question:


One the wonderful elements of the parables the Lord told is that they are intensely human. That is, they deal with real issues. The stories, while set to an ancient backdrop, always have at their core a relevant and timeless issue with which we are brought face to face.

The story of the Good Samaritan is no exception. In this parable, Christ deals with issues such as love, sacrifice, involvement, compassion, and concern.

For the believer, the issue we must face in this story is the issue of Christian love. In the figure of the Samaritan, we are brought face to face with how Christian love should look and work in our lives.

I want you to notice a couple of things we face in this story about the issue of Christian love. The Samaritan demonstrates for us first of all:

A. The reach of Christian love

The question posed the religious lawyer in verse 29, is probably a good indication of his heart. He wanted to know if he was required to love everyone. If there is a neighbor I am to love, does that mean that there is likewise a non-neighbor.

The religious world of the Jews had come to the conclusion that basically, your neighbor is a Jew like yourself. Anyone not a Jew, or you could say, anyone not like you, was not your neighbor.

The Lord Jesus destroys this kind of thinking in the parable of the Good Samaritan. The Samaritan’s and the Jews hated each other. They despised the sight of one another, and yet in the story, we find a Samaritan coming to the aid of what is most likely a Jewish man.

The reality is that we are called by Christ not just to love those who are like us, but also those we don’t like. There is to be no racial, economical, or personal limitations placed on whom we love.

The reality is that it is not hard to love those who are like us. The world exhibits that kind of love. Christian love stretches the parameters of love, and includes those with whom we have nothing in common, as well as those who have given us no reason to love them.

Essentially, Jesus says, “Welcome to the neighborhood. It is much bigger than you thought.” Our neighbor, according to the teaching of this parable, is anyone in need that we are able to help.

That may be a poor child in Dade County, or a mother dying of AIDS in Africa. Both are equally our neighbors, if we understand the reach of Christian love.

Christian love is color blind, culture blind, and class blind. It reaches next door, and around the world as well.

Notice something else we are faced with in this parable. We see not only the reach of Christian love, but notice also further that we see:

B. The requirement of Christian love

Most people think that love is a noun. That is, they think of love in terms of feeling, or an emotion. The reality however, is that love, in the biblical sense of the word, is not a noun, but a verb.

Love does not describe an emotion, but rather an action. The Apostle John said in I John 3:18, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”

The figure of the Samaritan in Christ’s story illustrates this principle. Notice what it required for this man to demonstrate love.

It required selflessness. He had to set aside any personal feelings he might have had about this Jewish man. He also had to ignore the risks of getting involved in a situation like this. Also, he had to put aside his schedule in order to help this man.

The Samaritan’s love not only required selflessness, but it also required sacrifice. In the story, the Lord Jesus tells us that the Samaritan gave up his own animal for the wounded man to ride upon. He also gave up his own money to support the care of the man.

Do you see the truth we are faced with? Christian love is neither easy nor inexpensive. Loving the way Christ calls us to, is inconvenient, difficult, and costly.

I remember reading a few lines years ago written about love in action. It says simply:

“A bell’s not a bell till you ring it,

A song’s not a song till you sing it,

Love in your heart’s not put there to stay,

Love’s not love till you give it away.”

There is nothing hard about merely saying that we love our neighbor. But when we are brought face to face with the size of the neighborhood, and the needs of our neighbors, that is when we learn whether or not we truly love the way God’s people are supposed to.

The Lord’s story brings us face to face with the fact that true Christian love requires some things from us.

Notice a second question we are going to ask about this familiar parable. Not only do we ask the question, “What do we face in this story?”, but notice also that we ask:


One writer described the parables as both mirrors and windows. He goes on to explain that a parable is a mirror in which we see something about ourselves, and a window through which we see something about God.

In the same book, the author quotes American playwright Arthur Miller. Miller, who wrote the famous play Death of a Salesman, said this, “In every successful drama there is something which makes a person say, ‘Hey, that’s me!”ii

If we take the parable of the Good Samaritan, and we use it as a mirror in which we see ourselves, which characters in the story cause us to say, ‘Hey, that’s me!’

It is a valuable question. Where do we fit in this story? Are we like the hero, the Samaritan? Or are we like the two religious men that passed by the suffering man?

To discover where we fit in this story, we have to ask ourselves two important questions. Notice first of all, we must examine our lives and ask:

A. Are we indifferent to the hurt of those around us?

If you remember in the story, the Lord Jesus tells us that before the Samaritan stopped to help the injured man, two men, a priest and a Levite, both avoided the needs of the man.

In verse 31, The Lord Jesus says that when the priest saw him, “…he passed by on the other side.” Then in verse 32, we find that the Levite, “…looked on him, and passed by on the other side.”

Many commentators spend a lot of ink speculating as to why these two religious men chose not to help the injured and dying man. The reality is that Jesus says nothing about their motives. He simply states that they acted indifferently, and turned away from the obvious need of the man.

The point is that regardless of their motives, their actions said that they cared more about their needs than the needs of the man on the side of the road.

Gary Inrig, in his writing on this parable says that we live in a day when, “…’compassion fatigue’ has reached epidemic proportions.”iii

Do we suffer from compassion fatigue? It was be an easy condition to develop. We turn the TV on, and there are starving children staring back at us. We pull up to an intersection, and there stands a homeless man with a sign. We watch the news and we see tsunami victims, hurricane victims, and wildfire victims all telling their tragic tales.

We would never admit it, but too many of us have become calloused to the needs of those around us. We have our own bills to pay. We are too busy with our own lives to stop and get involved with the needs of others.

Before we get so judgmental towards the priest and the Levite, we had better make sure they are not ancient portraits of what we have become ourselves.

Do we fit in this story alongside the indifferent, cold, and calloused behavior of the two religious men? To find out where we fit in this story, we must not only ask whether we are indifferent to the hurt of those around us, but we must also ask:

B. Are we involved in the in the helping of those around us?

We want to think that we are like the Samaritan in this story. However, to align ourselves with him means that we must do something about the hurting that exists around us.

In the story, Christ said in verse 33, that when the Samaritan came to where the man was, and saw him, “…he had compassion on him.”

The question we wrestle with is this, “What do I do?” There are so many needs, and so many hurting people, where do we as believers begin?

We begin where this Samaritan began. We ask God to give us compassion. It is interesting to note that the word that is translated “compassion” in verse 33, is a word that is only used elsewhere in the New Testament only in connection with the Lord Jesus. It is the compassion of God.

The truth is; if we want to be like the Samaritan in this story, then we must ask the Lord to give us His compassion. We need to see hurting people as He saw them. We need His heart!

Once we have His compassion, we will in some form or another be involved in helping those that are hurting. We will no longer pass them by, and choose to be indifferent to their needs.

I read about a contest that was held to find the most caring child. The winner was a four year-old boy. His next-door neighbor was an elderly man that had recently lost his wife. When the little boy saw the man sitting on the porch crying, he went over, climbed up in the man’s lap, and just sat there. Later, his mother asked the boy what he had said to the neighbor. The little boy said, “Nothing. I just helped him cry.”iv

We may not have the ability to help every need, but we can begin to be like the Samaritan, if we let the compassion of Christ fill us.

Even if we can do nothing but weep for and with those that are hurting; that is better than passing them by, and doing nothing.

There is a third question I want us to ask in connection with this story. Not only do we ask the question, “What do we face in this story?”; and “Where do we fit in this story?”; but notice also thirdly that we ask:


The story of the Good Samaritan is a very practical story. It challenges us to respond to the needs of those around us.

Yet, there is more than one application that we can draw from this wonderful parable. I believe, that when we look at this parable in another light, we are reminded of our Good Samaritan, the Lord Jesus, and what He came to do in this world.

Notice a couple of people we find in this story. Notice first of all that we see:

A. A picture of a lost society

Look with me at our text, and notice verse 3

It says, “And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.”

It shouldn’t be too hard for us to relate to this man. While we may have never been robbed, beaten, and left for dead, in many ways, our stories are alike.

One old writer described the similarities this way. He said, “Man has fallen into the hands of the hosts of evil, who have stripped him of his once-fair robe of innocence, injuring him mortally in so doing. His condition is hopeless…”v

Oh, before we met Christ, we were pitiful creatures. We were broken and bleeding, and dying from our sin. We needed someone to stop and care for us.

There is a reminder in the person of this victim that men around us will perish, broken, naked, and beaten apart from Christ.

The greatest need of men around us is to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are called to fill their stomachs and clothe their bodies, but that cannot be where we stop.

We must tell them of Christ! He is what the lost of our society need! He is the food that forever satisfies. His righteousness is the clothing that covers completely!

As you make your way home from church today, look there in the gutters and ditches of society! There bruised and bleeding from sin are the men we are called to help! The neediest in our world are those without Christ!

Notice someone else we find in this parable. We not only find a picture of the lost society, but we also find:

B. A picture of a loving Savior

When I read about the Good Samaritan, and what he did for this man in the parable, I can’t help but see a picture of the Lord Jesus.

Notice verses 33 through 35, and walk with me through the things the Samaritan did, and how they remind us of Christ.

Notice first of all, it says in verse 33 that the Samaritan, “…came to where he was…and had compassion on him.”

When I could not come to Christ because of the ruin of my sin, he came to where I was, and had compassion on me.

Verse 34 goes on and says that the Samaritan, “…bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine…” By the Lord’s stripes, I am healed. He has bound up my broken heart, and washed away my sin.

It says also that the Samaritan, “…set him on his own beast…” Christ took off His riches, His own righteousness, and gave it to me. He became sin for me that I might be made righteous!

Notice also at the close of verse 34, it says that the Samaritan, “…took care of him.” Has not the Lord Jesus taken care of us! He has supplied all of our needs.”

In verse 35, when the Samaritan had to leave, he made arrangements and provision for the continued care of the one he had saved.

Likewise, though the Lord Jesus has returned to heaven, He has made arrangements through the Holy Spirit to care for us until He returns.

Do you see Him in the story? Now this parable is not only a mirror in which we see ourselves, but it is also a window through which we see our God.

The story of the Good Samaritan is one with which most of us are very familiar. We likely heard it for the first time as children in Sunday School.

Yet, regardless of how many times we have heard it, we must ask ourselves today if he we have ever truly heard it, in the sense of understanding its meaning.

There is a point in this parable. Christ calls us from apathy, callousness, and indifference to respond to the needs of those around us.

He reminds us also that the greatest need of man can’t be met through welfare and well wishes.

He calls us to respond to man’s greatest need, but telling them of man’s great Savior!


i http://www.itstimereno.org/neighbor.asp; accessed 10/25/07

ii The Parables: Understanding What Jesus Meant; Inrig, Gary; p. 7

iii Ibid; p. 35

iv The Story File; May, Steve; p. 65

v Our Lord’s Miracles and Parables; Fereday, W.W.; p. 93