Who is My Neighbor?

Prior to telling the story of the Good Samaritan, a religious lawyer asked Jesus a probing question: “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus had previously stated that the law is summed up by loving God and loving our neighbor. Then Jesus illustrates the principle with the story of the Samaritan—the only person who helped the man who was beaten and stranded.

As we reflect on this familiar story, the details can move us away from the main point. It is easy to focus on the people who passed by or to draw attention to the Samaritan, yet completely forget the key question: “And who is my neighbor?” The lawyer answered the question correctly: “The one who showed him mercy.” What was Jesus’ response? “You go, and do likewise.” What is Jesus’ saying for us today? “You go, and do likewise.”