This is an opinion article from a user of WikiChristian.

By Graham Llewellyn Grove, May 2007, Original copy

A few years ago, Nicole and I spent a year back-packing around the world

After an early morning 6 hour flight South America, we landed in Miami in the USA

We stood in some long lines and passed through customs

It was now about midday, and we decided we’d try and make a 100 km journey to a town south of Miami called Key Largo

We worked out we’d have to catch 3 buses and 1 train to make the trip

So we jumped on the local bus with our huge backpacks and travelled to the train station, and then hopped on the train

At this stage the day started to go downhill – looking down at my wrist I noticed that my watch had been pick-pocketed from my wrist whilst we were waiting on the platform – I guess I hadn’t been pick-pocketed, I’d been pick-wristed – you’ve got to admire the theif’s skill

Anyway, at to the end of the train line we hopped on the next bus, and got off 20 minutes later at the connecting stop

Only 1 more bus to go, and then we’d reach our destination, Key Largo

The bus soon arrived, and we jumped on and chatted to a local man on the final part of the journey

He told us that accommodation in Key Largo might be just a little hard to come by, because it was “spring break”

Spring break it turned was what we call “Schoolies week”, and Key Largo is sort of an American version of the Gold Coast

Okay, well, motels would probably be booked out, but we figured we camp

So, after arriving at Key Largo, we trundled along the road to K-mart and bought a tent and hammer

We walked down the highway and found a camping ground

“Sorry, no vacancies” we we’re told

Oh dear

Well, we trundled up and down that freeway, as it got darker and darker looking for another camping ground

Our 20 kg back-packs were so heavy; I’m sure they weighed more like 100 kg by that stage

And so after hiking for miles up and down a freeway, and after finding a third caravan park full, we gave up and decided to try an expensive looking hotel

Nicole wandered up to the desk and timidly asked, “Do you have a room”, nearly in tears

“No. We’re all full – it’s spring break you know. There aren’t any motels with vacancies anywhere in Key Largo!”

Our hearts sunk; it was almost midnight by this stage – what were we going to do?

We’d been up for 18 hours travelling, much of that time on our feet carrying heavy bags

The hotel receptionist saw our downcast faces and then, a glimmer of hope – “I could ring up in some nearby towns and find a place for you to stay and drive you there when I finish work in an hour”

An hour later this friendly girl, who happened to be from Puerto Rico, drove us 75 km and dropped us off at a motel

That was one of the best nights of sleep that two Australians in America have ever had, and all because of a girl from Puerto Rico, who treated us as her neighbours

That day, she was our good Samaritan

She had loved her neighbours

The story of the Good Samaritan is all about love

A lawyer had asked Jesus, “What must I do to go to heaven?”

And Jesus responded, asking: “Well, what do you think? How do you interpret God’s law in the Old Testament?

The lawyer thought about it, and came to the right conclusion: “The Law says to love God fully, and love your neighbour as yourself – but Jesus – who is my neighbour?”

And so, Jesus told those listening, the story of the Good Samaritan, answering both the asked questions: “Who is my neighbour?” and the unasked question, “How do I love my neighbour?”

So, what do you think love is?

What does love mean?

Well, what does the world tell us about love?

I thought I’d have a look and see what the internet could tell me about love

So I went to Google Images and typed “What is love?”

A lot of pictures came up – here are some of them

See those two bears on the swing – they’re are in love

That girl – she loves her dog

I found a poster of a movie that alleges to tell you all about, well, love, actually

Some guy obviously loves to fish

Maybe the internet isn’t the best place to find out about love

Well, what else talks about love?

Music – a lot of songs talk about love

What do different songs have to say about love?

Let’s have a break, and listen to what some songs say about love (Play songs)

“If I do not love, I am nothing!”

Those are pretty strong words

Out of interest, can anyone name the songs or singers? (Pause for answer)

“I just want to feel real love”

There’s a real desire for love in the world – we’re all looking for love

But it’s hard to say exactly what love is, isn’t it

It’s hard to define

When the lawyer asked Jesus who his neighbour was, it’s obvious that Jesus knew about love

Let’s take a closer look at the story Jesus told about love

In the story, a man set out from Jerusalem, to go to Jericho

Jericho is 30 km away from Jerusalem – it’s not far

But the path from Jericho to Jerusalem is down a winding, rocky, steep mountain

And in Jesus’ day, it was actually quite a dangerous road to travel on

Bands of thieves hid out in the hill caves and it was common for people to be robbed

And unfortunately this man wasn’t lucky – he was robbed and beaten on the road and left to die

The first two men to pass were both important religious men

You’d think an important religious person would stop and help someone in need – but neither stopped

Both crossed to the other side of the road and walked quickly on, perhaps pretending they didn’t see the man in need

Why didn’t they stop?

We’re they too busy? Did they have somewhere important to be?

We’re they worried that it would cost them some money to help this person?

We’re they scared that if they stopped, thieves might come and rob them as well?

Or did they just figure it wasn’t their problem?

It may have been any of these reasons, or perhaps none of them – in any case, neither stopped to help someone who desperately needed their help

We’ve all done something like that before – seen someone in need, but pretended not to see, so we don’t have to help…

The next man to pass wasn’t an important or well-liked person – he was a Samaritan

Now, Jesus was a Jewish person;

The Jews mostly lived in Galilee (up north on the map) and Judea (down south)

In between Galilee and Judea was a small country called Samaria

And the Jews back then hated the Samaritans, who were the people from Samaria

To understand the reason for this we have to go back in history

About 700 years earlier, Israel, which is that whole region on the map, was split into a northern half and a southern half

The northern half was invaded by a powerful country called Assyria

And the people of the northern half of Israel were exiled – sent away from their country – and they disappeared from history, never to be heard of again

New people came to live in the area, settling in Samaria

They adopted the Jewish religion, but the Jewish people felt that the Samaritans didn’t get it even close to right – firstly they weren’t Jews, and secondly, they didn’t really understand who God was!

The Jews considered them to be horrible and disgusting and hated them

Samaritans were considered to be the lowest of the low, and Jews wouldn’t talk to them or go near them

Vice-versa, Samaritans really disliked the Jews

It’s hard for us to understand – but it was really just down-right racism

So, in the story that Jesus told, the third person to pass, was a Samaritan

But the Samaritan, who had every reason not to help this man, stopped and patched up the man’s wounds

To the listeners of the story, this was pretty incredible

The Samaritan and the man on the ground were enemies – so why would the Samaritan stop?

Yet, the Samaritan did stop and help the man – even taking him to an inn and paying 2 silver coins to the inn-keeper to look after him

2 silver coins may not sound like much today, but back then it was a lot – that was two days wages - so that’s equivalent to maybe, a few hundred dollars

A complete stranger gives up a lot of his time and money to help an enemy

That, Jesus is telling us, is how we need to love

While Jesus was on earth he talked a lot about love

He said

  • You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I tell you: Love your enemies

While Jesus was on earth he always showed love

When Jesus saw the sadness of two sisters whose brother had died, he wept, and he brought the man back to life, because he loved them

As Jesus was dying on the cross, he asked God, his Father, to forgive the people that were killing him, because he loved them

In fact, his death on the cross was what showed his love the most

There is a passage in the Bible that perfectly captures this idea

  • This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins

The Bible even tells us simply

  • God is love

Last month’s sermon about the death of Jesus on the cross was all about his love for us

Jesus didn’t only show us love, though

He challenged us

The story of the Good Samaritan, isn’t just a good story

It’s a challenge

Today, Jesus calls us to love like he does

The parable says to us – love isn’t just a feeling

Yes, it is true that love comes from the heart

But, if it is real love, it will be so much more than just something inside us

If we have real love in us, then we will show love to those around us – everyone around us

We can’t withhold our love from a person just because we don’t like him; or just because he has different colour skin or a different religion; or just because he’s poor; or just because he’s or rich!

We have to love everyone, without exception

And this means, we should always be ready to help a person in need; to give our time, our energy, our possessions when the need arises

This sort of real love, may not always be easy

If you think about it carefully, you’ll realise there are times when this will be hard

If someone at school picks on you or teases you, you have to love her

If someone bullies you at work, you have to love him

Even a telemarketer who calls up and tries to get you to sign up to some great new deal – well, you have to love him too

We have to love those who disagree with us

We have to love those who cause problems for us

It doesn’t mean we have to always agree with everyone, or be a doormat – but, we still have to love everyone

God loves us – so how can we, who are made in his image, not love?

God loves us – and he will give us the strength to really love

These are some words of a famous hymn – Jesus said something like these words

  • When I needed a neighbour were you there? Were you there?
  • I was hungry and thirsty, were you there?
  • When I needed a shelter, were you there?
  • And the creed and the colour and the name won't matter! Were you there?

Return to Christianity -> Bible -> New Testament -> Gospel of Luke -> Luke 10 -> The Good Samaritan

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