Who Is My Neighbour?
Big Idea: Three questions that Jesus wants us to answer are, “Who is my Neighbour?” “What is my neighbour saying?” and “How should I respond to my Neighbour?
My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.
Proverbs 23:26 ESV
In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. Luke 10:21 ESV
Jewish Rabbis taught by “stringing pearls”. They would purposely put stories side by side to amplify a particular theme. At first glance the stories may seem unrelated but as we look deeper, we can pick up an obvious theme.
The context: When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village. Luke 9:51-56 ESV
The three stories:
- Jesus commissioned his 72 disciples.
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you.
Luke 10:1-6 ESV
- The Good Samaritan.
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.”
And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?” Luke 10:25-29 ESV
Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’
Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbour to the man who fell among the robbers?” Luke 10:30-36 ESV
(Our English word, “neighbour” comes from two words meaning, “the farmer next door” or “the person beside you”.)
He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” Luke 10:37 ESV
- Mary and Martha serve Jesus.
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 ESV
All three of these stories revolve around the underlying theme of “lovingly listening to what our neighbour is silently saying.”
Relational Quotient or Emotional Intelligence. The capability of individuals to recognize their own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behaviour, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments, and to achieve one’s goals. Some people are wired in their temperament to do this easily, and some people have the “mercy gift” which helps them read a room more readily, but all of us can learn to have a softer heart — it’s called “Love your neighbour as yourself”.
The context of this “string of pearls” is of primary importance. Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem to die. He was days away from the most important day in the history of the world.
In the first story, he sent out his 72 disciples and instructed them to read people carefully.
Before doing their work. “Look for a man of peace – if you don’t feel the peace, move on”. Be sensitive to whom you spend time with and minister to. There must be a soft heart; soft soil to receive the life-giving seed.
In the second story, the Priest and the Levite were caught up in their own religious worlds. They made a judgment on their “neighbour” without feeling his story and without listening to the prompting of the Father. The Samaritan “read the room” and responded with loving sensitivity.
In the third story, Martha was being gracious in her own mind, but she hadn’t read Jesus’ emotions. He was facing the crisis of hate and death and she was worried about entertaining him. Mary read his heart and put everything aside to just listen to him.
Application: My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways. Proverbs 23:26 ESV
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