Who is my neighbor?

“Who is my neighbor?”

An earnest lawyer asks Jesus this question in Luke 10:29. We soon learn it’s one of those conversations that’s planned out in advance. He asks a question to set up something he wants to say. He was earnest to “justify himself,” as Luke makes clear. And obviously, he was feeling pretty good about how it was going through verse 28. But then comes the curveball.

Whatever this lawyer had in mind for the answer, it wasn’t the story Jesus told. And it’s not what we would expect either. Yes, we may all know the parable of the Good Samaritan, but it can be a little confusing. The “neighbor,” it would appear, is the man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho who was beaten and left for dead (Luke 10:30). The neighbor is the object, the one of whom the three other characters encounter. But in the end, Jesus says the Samaritan who helped his man “proved to be the neighbor” (Luke 12:36–37).

So here we are, along with the lawyer, trying to figure out who we’re supposed to love, and Jesus turns the question around. Look at this man who acts in mercy. Stop asking, “Who is my neighbor?” There are deeper questions to ponder. As John Piper explains, “When we are done trying to establish, ‘Is this my neighbor?’ — the decisive issue of love remains: What kind of person am I?” (What Jesus Demands from the World, [Crossway, 2006], 264).

(Excerpt from desiringGod; by Jonathan Parnell)

“Who are you?” — that’s the question.

See you this Sunday as we continue to look at the 4 pillars of LifePoint.

Nathan Bentley

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