Jesus’ story, “The Good Samaritan,” is a story about asking the right question.
Jesus told the story as part of his conversation with a lawyer. The lawyer asked the wrong question. The lawyer’s question was, “And who is my neighbor?” Whether he was sincere or not, the purpose of his question was to establish a limit as to who he was obliged to help, and how much. To ask, “And who is my neighbor?” is to imply, “And who is not my neighbor?” Wrong question.
The question Jesus asked at the conclusion of his story is, “Which of these three was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” Jesus’ concern wasn’t limiting liability but limitless love. Instead of worrying about the minimum he had to do, he was interested in doing as much as possible. Jesus question wasn’t “Who is my neighbor?” but “How can I be a neighbor?” Right question.
One other question is implied by the story. Who is the Good Samaritan? The answer: the Good Samaritan is Jesus. He comes out of nowhere, he helps whoever he can, he doesn’t count the cost. The Good Samaritan is Jesus. And who are we in the story? We are the poor fellow who was beaten and robbed and left for dead. We are the helpless people for whom there is no hope, but for Jesus.
In our sermon this Sunday we will talk about the story of the Good Samaritan.