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Know God in a Year #156 “But who is this Neighbor?”

The lawyer is sincere and his answer completely ignores their rules. He gets that God’s law is the expression of love for God, your neighbor, and yourself, but if that’s true… Conviction suddenly brings clarity, and with it guilt and the need to justify himself. So he asks Jesus to clarify, “Who is my neighbor?”
The rabbis argued this question endlessly. It was just accepted that Samaritans and outsiders were not “neighbors,” but what about the classes in their society? According to Pharisaic rules, contact with the “ignorant” and “unclean” required tiring effort to cleanse yourself.
Jesus sidesteps their controversy by telling a story that had recently happened–some of the participants in his audience.
“A  man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho was robbed, stripped and beaten, and left to die…”
You’ve heard the story, a priest and a Levite came by and crossed on the other side.
These men hold positions that represent God to the people, and God’s laws require them to relieve even the suffering of animals.* They are called to do what Jesus’ is doing, “binding up the brokenhearted and bruised.”**
“Defilement” and selfishness held them back. They were thinking about all the time required to cleanse themselves after contact with the dead. But guess what! He wasn’t dead!
“A Samaritan came along, saw the man and, feeling pity, put oil and wine on his wounds, lifted him onto his donkey, and carefully walked him to an inn and cared for him. The next morning he left money with the innkeeper, promising more if needed.”
Finishing his story of the good (but hated) Samaritan, Jesus looks at the lawyer, who feels like his mind is transparent.
continued tomorrow…
Luke 10:25-35    *Exodus 23:4,5,  Deuteronomy 10:17-19    **Luke 4:18

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