The Neighbor of Mercy
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
- Luke 10:36-37
At the end of Jesus’ interaction with the expert in the law, he says this enigmatic phrase: “Go and do likewise.” What does this mean?
Jesus had just shared his famous parable of the Good Samaritan, in which a Samaritan cared for a (presumably) Jewish man he finds lying beaten on the side of the road. Applied literally, the parable could be taken to mean that we should have special compassion for the roadside wounded. But it has to mean more than that.
Jesus has cracked the frame of his questioner’s original question. “Who is my neighbor?” looks a lot different now. Anyone can be your neighbor. Anyone who treats you in a neighborly way, anyone who you treat in a neighborly way … that category no longer gets its boundaries by proximity or similarity but by mercy.
On the one hand, your neighbors are now those who have mercy on you. God calls you to show these people the same love that you show yourself. Respond to mercy with love. Don’t respond to mercy with guilt or shame. Don’t ignore or hide from the mercy. Show extravagant love to those who have shown your mercy, especially Jesus.
On the other hand, your neighbors are now all those to whom you can show mercy. Everyone who wrongs you or sins against you. Everyone in need. Everyone who’s weak. Everyone who’s hurting. Everyone with whom you can connect. The list of your new neighbors is long and distinguished.
What one person might God be calling you to show love to in a special way today? Ask him to show you who to reach out to and how to bless them.