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Luke 10 v 25. “On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher”, he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Imagine “testing Jesus” by asking a question about eternal life! Eternal life is what Jesus is all about. But Jesus’ answer is surprising because he turns the lawyer’s attention to the Law of God quoting from Deuteronomy 6 v 5.

But the teacher of the law was up for a debate and asked Jesus: “Who is my neighbour”.

Now this was a really serious question at that time, given the hostility of one group to another. It’s hard for us today to realise the tremendous chasm that existed between the Jewish people and all other groups. If our Lord had answered: “Your neighbours are only your fellow Jews and no one else”, he would have been applauded by the religious leaders, but he would have denied the very reason he came into the world. So Jesus tells him a parable with characters chosen with great care.

The victim is a Jew. The men who refuse to help him are Jews, but the man who does help him is a Samaritan. Anybody listening to this conversation would have exclaimed in horror “This cannot be”. For a Jew to be helped in this way by a despised Samaritan was unthinkable.

Jesus had told his disciples that if anybody did not receive them or their message they were to wipe the dust of their houses off their feet. But here is the other side of the story. Suppose a Christian comes across a bitter enemy of the Gospel who is in great need, what is he to do? He is to overcome all his natural resentments and be the neighbour to his enemy. He must love this man as a fellow human being.

In the light of this it is good for us to remember that the Christian cause is never protected or advanced by bullets or bombs, nor by bitter arguing and insults. Instead we act in love to those who hate us and bless those who persecute us. We do not become like our enemies.

Remember that the true Samaritan was Jesus himself. He came from Heaven to rescue us. We did not welcome Him, or want him. Instead we opposed him and despised him and finally crucified him. Then we discovered that on the Cross he paid for our redemption and is now perfecting us for unimaginable glory. And think of this! When He returns he will handsomely reimburse all those who have in any way helped him in his great task of saving the world.

What a great Saviour we have.