“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40 NIV
The question was asked by the Pharisees. Not to learn from Jesus, but to trap him. Jesus distills it down: Love God. Love Others.
Let’s look at the second part.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
Love your neighbor.
Seems pretty straight forward, right?
The Pharisee then asked, “And who is my neighbor?” You might be wondering the same thing. Jesus shared the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 30-36).
Quick version: A man is attacked, robbed and left for dead. A priest and a Levite see him and pass on the other side of the road. A Samaritan takes pity on him, helps and provides for him. Side note: Samaritans would not have been looked at as the “good guy” during Jesus’ time.
Jesus asks: “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
Have mercy on your neighbor. Who is your neighbor? The Samaritan didn’t know this man, he was not part of his circle. He reached out to someone who was different from him and showed kindness and compassion. Our neighbor may be someone we are uncomfortable with; they may have a different lifestyle, culture or opinion than us. They are still our neighbor.
Jesus lays it out in the simplest of terms. We are called to love.
With peace and love,