I want you to imagine that it’s late at night, you’re walking to your car, the parking lot is dark, and you’re scared! Your only goal is to get to your car safely, lock the doors, and get home as quickly as possible. Before you get to your car, you hear cries for help from across the parking lot. It’s obvious from the sound of the cries that this person is in dire need. Your curiosity is killing you, so you start to head in the direction of the cries. From a distance you see a man that has obviously been abused, mugged, or perhaps near death. What you do next?
I suspect the first thing you do is look around the parking lot for the muggers. You start to immediately think about your own safety. It’s only natural for you to want to run to your car rather than run to the man in need. What do you do? Do you go help the man or do you go home? This is the question that Jesus poses in Luke 10:30.
If your daughter was hurting?
I’ll make this scenario a little bit easier on you. What if it was your daughter laying in that parking lot when you’re walking to your car? What would you do then? I can’t imagine anyone wouldn’t put their personal safety at risk to go help their own child. I feel pretty certain you’d go help your daughter rather than go home. Why?…because you want what’s best for her- because you love her!
If your co-worker was hurting?
Okay, that was an easy one. Let’s turn it up a notch…What if it was your coworker? Not somebody that you see every day. I’m talking about the kind of coworker who you know they are employed by the same company, or you’ve met them in the hallways once, but you really have no relationship with them. Let’s say this same scenario is played out in the company parking lot. Let’s say that it’s somebody from your company that’s in the parking lot… What do you do?
Now the discussion gets a little bit harder. Maybe you will see this coworker again. Maybe this coworker recognizes you. Maybe this coworker will tell your friends at the office that you could have helped but you didn’t. You have a little bit skin in the game with this one. Now, what you do?
The reason why this becomes a little bit more challenging is because of your relationship with this person. Would you put your safety at risk for somebody that you recognize but you don’t really know?
If a total stranger was hurting?
Final question… What if it was a total stranger? What if it was somebody who you’ve never met before? It’s almost guaranteed that you will never see this person again. Would you put your personal safety at risk for somebody that you’ve never met, and probably will never meet again? What do you do in this case?
When Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan in the book of Luke he was trying to change a man’s opinion of what God expects from us. The man having a conversation with Jesus was an expert in the religious law. He was trying to trap Jesus with a trick question about the law. He was trying to find the minimum he had to do in order to be right with God when he asked the question, “What does the law command me to do (Luke 10:25)?” When he didn’t get the answer from Jesus that he wanted he tried to find a loophole. “If the law commands me to care for my neighbor, who then is my neighbor?” the man asks in Luke 10:29. Jesus blows up any chances of finding a loophole when he tells the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:33-35).
Jesus turned the question upside down. The question is not, “What does the law command me to do?” The real question is, “What does love compel me to do?”
This Good Samaritan goes miles farther than required by the law. He goes above and beyond the call of duty. This is Medal of Honor kind of care for a neighbor. Let Jesus’s words about this Good Samaritan sink in for just a second- then noticed what he tells us next- “Go, and do the same” in Luke 10:37.
Let’s go back to that parking lot for just a second. Let’s imagine that that person on the other side of the parking lot looks nothing like you. Do you still get in your car and drive home or do you go help the person in need? Jesus is radically redefining who is your neighbor. Jesus is reminding his people that there is no room for color of skin, side of the tracks, or denomination discussions when you see someone in need. Don’t ask the question, “What does the law command me to do?” when you see a need. Ask, “What does love compel me to do?” And then go and do it!