Who Is My Neighbour?
18 OCTOBER 2020 | TRADITIONAL WORSHIP SERVICES
Rev Michael Tan
Scripture Passage: Luke 10:25-37 (NIV)
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Summary | Throughout His ministry, our Lord was put on trial by various self-appointed ‘judges’. In this passage, an expert of the law asked Jesus: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” This exact question was asked by the rich ruler in Luke 18:18. Unlike the ruler who had asked in sincerity, this Scribe was out to trap Jesus. “What is written in the Law?” Jesus replied. The Pharisee answered correctly from Deut. 6:5 and Lev. 19. Jesus reminded the enquirer that he needed to act out the law. To show that he knew better than Jesus and to justify himself, the Scribe asked, “Who is my neighbour”?
It was in this context that the parable of the good Samaritan was told. A man was journeying from Jerusalem and was beset by robbers who took all his possessions and beat him up (v.30). Jesus used a priest and Levite as characters in the story (vs. 31-32). Both share a similar background as experts in the Mosaic law. They knew the law but did not do as the law required and walked past the injured man. Verse 33 records that a Samaritan came by, took pity on and cared for the injured person. Samaritans had a long-standing animosity with the Jews. Political, religious, cultural differences made Jews hate the Samaritans so much that they could not even bear to be together in the same room. Diverting from his journey, the Samaritan brought the wounded Jew to an inn, took care of him and paid the innkeeper for the expenses, showing genuine and generous concern for his “enemy” (vs. 34-35).
In answer to his own question of “Who is my neighbour?”, the Pharisee is left to say a neighbour was the one who showed mercy. He could not even make himself say “Samaritan”. So, Jesus told him, and us, to do good, even to those who are different from us.
In considering the question “Who is my neighbour?”, we need to ask, “Who is my God”? If I am lord of my own life, then I choose my own preferences and values. But if God is our Lord, we need to act in the same way as He does. He is merciful and kind. As His children, we need to see everyone else as our neighbour.
Another question we have to ask is “Who is my enemy”? Are we able to love our enemies as Jesus does? It is easy to be a neighbour to those who agree with us and care for us. It is much harder to treat those who oppose us as neighbours. A group of volunteers in China helped lepers in rehabilitation villages. They were not welcomed initially as the lepers had suffered rejection from their families and viewed the volunteers with suspicion. With patience and love, the volunteers tended to their wounds and gave them a listening ear. This is an example of people who commit themselves to serve those who are ostracised and rejected by society.
We should thus always ask ourselves: “Who am I a neighbour to?” and “Am I willing to be a neighbour to those who are different from me or who disagree with me?”
(Sermon Notes by Angela Goh)
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS
1. Consider how God has spoken to you through this sermon What are 3 points that stood out for me in this sermon?
2. What are 2 questions (or things) that I struggled with?
3. What is the 1 promise that I may rest on, or 1 thing that I may do?