"And who is my neighbor?”
This was not a question asked out of sincerity or a heart of compassion. Instead, Scripture tells us the expert in religious law who asked Jesus this question was trying to test Jesus and to justify his own actions (or lack thereof).
Self-righteous, insincere legalist! I declare in my mind.
The crazy thing about this story (like so many others in Scripture) is that it turns the tables on me in an instant. While I judge the religious teacher, I’m trying to justify myself. My own religious pride leaps at this opportunity to feel superior to another—to tell myself that I understand Jesus much better than this guy obviously did. To pat myself on the back because I get what it means to love your neighbor and he obviously didn’t. (I know the “Good Samaritan” punch line, after all.)
Am I willing to see that the Old Testament’s command to “love your neighbor as yourself” isn’t just a general principle about being vaguely nice, but is an absolutely radical call to self-sacrifice and whole-hearted agape love? Am I willing to see my role in Jesus’ story- answer? To see that I am the priest who puts distance between himself and the beaten man to avoid contact with raw, human need? To see that I am the Temple assistant who dared
to look at the man’s suffering but then went on his way without taking action?