Text: Luke 10:25-37

Many Christians are familiar with the Lord’s command that we are to
“love thy neighbour as thyself” (Lev. 19:18). However, who exactly is
my neighbour? That was the question posed by a self-righteous lawyer
to the Lord Jesus Christ. As a lawyer, he was well-versed with the
Word of God, especially the laws of God found in the Pentateuch.
This lawyer was so confident in his keeping of the law that he wanted
Christ to attest to his self-righteousness before all the people.

Jesus exposed how the lawyer had no self-righteousness to claim by
answering him with the parable of the Good Samaritan. In this
parable, a certain man (likely a Jew), fell to the attack of some thieves
on his way down from Jerusalem to Jericho. Not only did the thieves
take away his clothing which was necessary to keep him from the cold
at night, they also wounded him till he was half-dead. This man
needed urgent help.

It came to pass that a priest passed by the way where the wounded
man lay, going down the same journey from Jerusalem to Jericho. The
priests were supposed to be teachers of God’s law. They should be
well-aware of God’s requirements, as taught in His law of all among
the children of Israel. However, the priest chose to ignore the
wounded man. The fact that the priest was coming down from
Jerusalem showed that he had completed his priestly duties. There
should be no worry that he will be disqualified from priestly duties,
from being made ceremonially unclean by a dead man. He had no
excuses. Nevertheless, he displayed no love and compassion for the
wounded man and just left him to die.

With the passing of time, a Levite also passed by the man. The Levite
was supposed to assist the priest in the performance of religious
duties, and so would be well-versed in the law of God. Perhaps the
Levite would do better than the priest? Sadly, he responded in the
same way as the priest and left him for dead. These two men were
reflective of the lawyer. They thought they knew the law of God and
took pride in their self-righteousness. However, when they were put
to the test, they were found wanting. They only had a façade of
religiosity for men to see.

On the other hand, a Samaritan happened to pass by the place where
the wounded man lay. The Samaritans came about due to mixed
marriages between the people of the land and the remnant of the
children of Israel in the Northern Kingdom that was destroyed by the
Assyrians. Thus, the children of Israel regarded them as unclean and
hated these “half-Jews”. In fact, if a Jew desired to travel north from
Jerusalem to Galilee, they would avoid taking the direct route
through Samaria just to avoid contact with the Samaritans. The
enmity was so great that the two groups had little dealings with each
other. Thus, the surprise of that Samaritan woman in John 4 when
Jesus asked her for a drink, “How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest
drink of me which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no
dealings with the Samaritans” (John 4:10).

The Samaritan did what the priest and Levite failed to do. He tended
to the wounds of the man and made sure that he had lodging at an inn
where he could recover. When it was clear that he needed more than
a day at the inn, the Samaritan went the extra mile to pay for his stay
and offered to pay more, should the stay needed to be extended. He
was more than a neighbour to this man than the priest or Levite. If
this man was a Jew (which was likely since he was coming down
from Jerusalem), it made the failings of the priest and Levite all the
more acute because they did not even look after one who was of their

We now come to the question posed earlier – who is my neighbour?
In the context of the parable, the neighbour is my enemy! As
disciples of Christ, the Lord beseeched us to love our brethren, “A
new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I
have loved you, that ye also love one another.” (Jn. 13:34) However,
the Lord calls us to go beyond this to love our enemies, “Ye have
heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate
thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that
curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which
despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children
of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the

evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even
the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye
more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore
perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matt. 5:43-

The world’s philosophy is “I will love those who love me. I will love those
who are my friends.” However, the Lord’s requirement is that we love
those who do not love us. Did not Christ come in love to die for us when
we were his enemies? It is the Christian who is able to love his neighbour
as himself, yea even his enemy, because he has experienced the Lord’s
love in his life. It is our duty and privilege to fellow man as commanded
by the Lord.

When brethren therefore tear at each other’s throats and there is no love
lost, how can we therefore love our neighbour as ourselves? If the basis of
who we love is based on friendship, are we any different from those in the
world? May we all learn to love our neighbours as ourselves, including our

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew