Who is my neighbour?

A Jewish teacher of the law came to Jesus to test him with a question about eternal life. His question showed that he thought of eternal life as something to be obtained by some special act. Jesus’ reply


showed that obtaining eternal life is inseparably linked with the way people live their daily lives. If they do not put God before all things and their neighbour before themselves, they can have no assurance of eternal life (Luke 10:25-28).

The teacher was disappointed with this answer and, in an attempt to excuse his own failings, asked how anyone could know who was or was not his neighbour (Luke 10:29). In reply Jesus told a story in which a traveller was beaten, robbed, and left to die. Two Jews, one a priest and the other a Levite, deliberately passed him by, but a Samaritan stopped and helped him (Luke 10:30-35). Jesus then forced the questioner to answer his own question. The example that he had to follow was not that of the religious purists, but that of the despised foreigner. If a person loves his neighbour as himself, he will act kindly towards anyone that he happens to meet, even enemies (Luke 10:36-37).

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