We all have neighbors; maybe they live next door or down the street.
But in the words, “Love your neighbor as yourself”, the meaning of a neighbor is quite different. Do you know why?
There was once a Jewish man travelling by foot from Jerusalem to Jericho, a journey of a few days.
The road he travelled on was rocky, but it was surrounded by hills, and so the man walked happily along, enjoying the beautiful day and humming to himself.
Suddenly, a group of men jumped out from behind a hill. They tore off the man’s clothes and stole all his belongings. Afraid that he might follow them, they beat the man up very badly, and left him lying and bleeding on the side of the road.
A few minutes passed, and a priest walking down the same road noticed the injured man. Do you know what he did? He didn’t run over and help the man, but instead crossed the road and walked on the other side, pretending he hadn’t noticed.
About an hour later, another man called a Levite came down the road. Levites were people who helped priests in their work, and so you’d think he might have helped this poor man lying hurt on the road. But you know what he did? He slowed down to look at the man, but then kept walking without so much as uttering a word.
Now you might think that perhaps the man lying on the road looked like he was just sleeping. But the truth is it was quite obvious the man was hurt because most of his clothes were ripped off, and he was bruised, bleeding, and hardly breathing.
A few minutes later, another man came down the road. He was a Samaritan, and if there’s one thing you should know about Samaritans is that Jews did not like them very much. Jews did not usually treat Samaritans with kindness. The man lying on the road was a Jew, so what do you think the Samaritan did?
You’d think he would just walk on by. But do you know what he did? As soon as the Samaritan saw the man, he went over to him. He put bandages on his bruises, and poured oil and wine (both of which were quite expensive) on his sores to prevent them from getting worse. Then he lifted the man onto his own donkey and took him to a hotel to take care of him.
Now, which of the three men who walked down the road do you think was a neighbor to the man left lying on the side? Not a fellow Jew, nor even the priest—but it was the man who had compassion and who helped him, who was his true neighbor.
We must try and do the same to all people; and this is why someone who tries to helps others with good intentions is called a Good Samaritan.