People usually read the Bible story of the “Good Samaritan” and forget some important details regarding Jesus Christ’s teaching on who your neighbor is.
Here is the Bible passage:
Luke 10:25-37 New International Version (NIV)
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “‘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, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
There are some important points that you must keep in mind as you read this story:
(1) Jesus Christ identified the Jerusalem Temple priest as not being “your neighbor”. It was Jesus Christ’s way of attacking the priests as corrupt and not representing the true message of God. In a way, Jesus Christ was attacking what the Jerusalem Temple itself stood for.
(2) Jesus Christ identified the Levites as not being “your neighbor”. This is significant because the Levites represent the holy tribe among the Israelites. This was a way for Christ to reject the Israelites as God’s chosen people.
(3) Jesus Christ identifies the Samaritan as “your neighbor”. Samaritans were not the Chosen People of God. They were rejected by Israelites. Thus, Jesus was indicating that Israelites (Jews) are no longer the Chosen People of God, but rather those who do the will of God in Heaven.
Jesus Christ clearly emphasizes this principle that doing the will of God makes you a part of the people of God when Jesus Christ talked about who His mother and brothers were in Matthew 12:49-50:
Pointing to His disciples, He said, “Here are My mother and My brothers. For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.
It does not matter how you were born. What matters to God is that you do the Will of God. That’s what makes you a child of God.
Likewise, your neighbor is the one who helps you when you are in need. When a Christian is suffering, sometimes other Christians look the other way and ignore the suffering of a Christian. They are not being a neighbor to the suffering Christian.