“‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’ The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise'” (Luke 10:36-37).
In His Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus said that the Samaritan felt compassion for the beaten man (see Luke 10:33). Compassion is splanchnizomai in Greek. Jesus had compassion for all (see Matthew 9:36). The Samaritan’s compassion for the beaten man led him to action. He went to him. He bandaged the man’s wounds. He poured oil (for soothing the wounds ) and wine (for disinfecting the wounds), which was forbidden by law for a Samaritan. He placed him on his donkey, which was counter-cultural, and he took him to the inn in Jericho and attended to his needs. He paid two denarii (two days’ wages) for a 24-night stay and agreed to pay more if needed. He did all of this, in spite of the fact that he would not be reimbursed. A Jew could be reimbursed by another Jew, but no hope for reimbursement toward a Samaritan had existed.
Who has loved you like that? In Jesus’ story, the one who loved radically is the one who did not build a box around God’s love, limited to only those on the inside.
The expert of the law wanted to restrict the scope of who was his neighbor, desiring to build a box around God’s love by defining neighbor only as “God’s people” (see Luke 10:29). Jesus reframed the question, “And who is my neighbor” in a way that the expert in the law had to wrestle with an enemy actually being his neighbor. Maybe he had heard Jesus teach: “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44), yet when asked which of the three characters in the story had been a neighbor to the beaten man in need, the expert in the Law would not utter, “Samaritan.” Instead, he said: “The one who had mercy on him” (Luke 10:36). Jesus clearly communicated that the two parts of the Great Commandment were inseparable (see 1 John 4:19-21). We cannot love God without loving others, and there is no restrictive box around God’s people. We are called to love all.
“Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37.) Jesus is commanding each of us to love like the Samaritan, without a box containing who is in and restricting who is out. Think of someone who loved you radically and go love like that! It won’t be you serving others; rather, it will be Christ in you.