Summary: This message attempts to explain the lawyer’s question: "And who is my neighbor?"
Text: But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29).
If someone was to ask you: “And who is my neighbor?” what would you say?
Most people think of their neighbor as the people next door, the people across the street or perhaps the people in their subdivision or development.
Story: “The Homeless Woman’s Poem”
A homeless woman once approached a preacher for help, but because he was busy and helpless, he turned her away and offered to pray for her instead. The homeless woman, it is said, wrote this poem as a response to the insensitive minister:
“I was hungry, and you formed a humanities group to discuss my hunger.
I was imprisoned, and you crept off quietly to my chapel and prayed for my release.
I was naked, and in your mind you debated the morality of my appearance.
I was sick, and you knelt and thanked God for your health.
I was homeless, and you preached to me the spiritual shelter of the love of God.
I was lonely, and you left me alone to pray for me.
You seem so holy, so close to God but I am still very hungry – and lonely – and cold.”
How would you feel if you were in the shoes of this woman? How would you feel if you were homeless, hungry and cold and in the process of seeking help you came upon a professed Christian or preacher who responded to you in this manner?
I would venture to say you would not think too much of Christianity because of the lack of compassion, caring, understanding and love shown by this person.
It is easy to pray for someone in need, but when physical hunger is the issue, real food is the only thing that will satisfy this hunger. Jesus fed four thousand people with seven loaves and a few small fish and when all had eaten, there were seven large baskets full of fragments left over (Matthew 15:36, 37).
Jesus didn’t just pray for them, but He took action and provided them with what they needed at the time and that was real food to fill their stomachs.
It is easy to pray for someone who is homeless, but what is really needed is a place to rest and relax. In this day and age it is not safe to bring people we do not know or who are strangers to us into our homes, but we can help them find a shelter, mission, or an organization like the Salvation Army who may be able to help.
The point is we should not just turn away from them on the other side of the street. This is our neighbor who is in need.
It is easy to pray for someone who is shivering from the cold damp weather, but what the person really needs is warm clothing. As a Christian who shows forth the love of God, we should, without a second thought, give them the coat off our back. God the Father gave all He had for each one of us and that was His one and only Son.
As Jesus walked upon the face of the earth, he never hesitated to help someone in need. Jesus healed the centurion’s servant who was paralyzed and tormented. Jesus said, “I will come and heal him” (Matthew 8:7). He did not ask the centurion any question or put for any stipulations, Jesus just did it.
Two demon–possessed men were healed when Jesus commanded the demons to enter the herd of swine. These two men were healed and Jesus asked no questions. He knew all man-kind are the Father’s children; therefore, each child is a neighbor to the other.
Matthew was a tax collector and like other tax collector took advantage of the people. He was a sinner and Jesus knew that sinners needed to repent and change their ways if they were to spend eternity with the Father in his kingdom.
The Pharisees saw what Jesus did and said, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Matthew 9:11). I like Jesus response to this question.
He said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick” (Matthew 9:12). Jesus was neighborly to all people. He would not turn away from anyone in need any more than a modern-day physician would turn away from anyone needing treatment.
Scripture tells us, “Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them” (Matthew 15:30).
Jesus did not walk around these people or pass by them on the other side of the road. He didn’t say “I don’t have time or I can’t be bothered with their problems.” He showed intense compassion and love for these people and did not consider if they were Jew or Gentile. He treated these people as His next-door neighbor although some had traveled many miles to be with him.