(For context, read the full parable in Luke 10:25 –37.)

‘‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbour 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

The big question

When I was a kid, this parable taught me that Jesus values kindness indiscriminately. But as an adult who seeks to do likewise, I am floored by its message and led to reflect on my definition of love and of neighbour. 

When I ask Jesus, ‘who is my neighbour?’ I hear the lesson he’s teaching in this parable. And it’s not a comfortable one. 

Because in our house, we recycle, compost, turn off the lights. And then we sleep comfortably in our warm beds, sheltered by a sturdy roof. I toss and turn at the great imbalance that exists in the world, but I don’t always know how to address it. 

Then I reconsider the story of this kind soul, who stopped to help a needy stranger. At this time, the teacher testing Jesus saw the Samaritan as anything but an equal. The teacher saw himself as ‘in’. And in theory, so did the Levite and the priest. The Samaritan, though, was firmly ‘out’. He was not one of them. 

An unexpected answer

And yet it’s the Samaritan who Jesus says embodies the essence of God’s kingdom. He is the inheritor of eternal life because he loved his neighbour – whom he didn’t know – as himself. 

So, when I find myself asking Jesus, ‘What can I do to help vulnerable people overlooked on the road, the victims of so many crises in our world?’ I return to this parable.

So, when I find myself asking Jesus, ‘What can I do to help vulnerable people overlooked on the road, the victims of so many crises in our world?’ I return to this parable.

Then, I’m reminded of someone I might consider an ‘outsider’, not necessarily a church-attending Christian. Jesus points me to ‘radical’ advocates for justice, to scientists warning of the widespread destruction of our planet – the planet we were given as a gift. He shows me people addressing the impacts of the Earth’s destruction on the world’s poor – people who aren’t preaching the gospel but reflecting it in innovative ways. Providing food for children living on trash heaps; teaching agricultural techniques to farmers whose land has been stripped; or risking their lives to stop bush fires from spreading.

Jesus says – go and do likewise. 

In the Samaritan, Jesus presents the way of the Kingdom – mutual responsibility; sacrificial generosity; and willingness to get my hands dirty in the process of loving, and showing mercy, to those who need it most. Especially my neighbours across God’s Earth most affected by the roads we walk down every day. 

Prayer:
Jesus, thank you for the gift of your teaching and for your gentle conviction that comes when we listen to you. Give us ears to hear what you would teach us through this parable today so that we may care for those hurt by the systems and consumption of the world. Amen.

Dig Deeper

  1. As we think about caring for God’s creation, what can the Good Samaritan teach us about who ‘our neighbours’ are?
  2. How do you think caring for the Earth helps us love our neighbours in poverty?
  3. What are some environmental ways you can daily show mercy to your neighbours?

This is one part of ‘The Earth is the Lord’s!’ ten-day devotional. To experience the full series, sign up now.