Who’s Your Neighbor?

But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”—Luke 10:33–36 (NKJV)

Today, in conclusion of the parable, we see a Samaritan helped the man. Now, the Samaritan man was not from that area, he didn’t live anywhere near it, so the half-dead man certainly didn’t qualify as his neighbor. But what did he do?

The Samaritan risked defilement. He approached the unidentifiable man and helped him. He didn’t care if the man was a king or a slave, Samaritan or Jew. He had compassion. He bandaged the man, “pouring on oil and wine.” Oil and wine were poured out on the high altar before God as a part of worship. This sticks out to me because Jesus specifically mentioned it after the Priest and Levite have failed to do so, because they didn’t see mercy and compassion as acts of worship. 

The Samaritan then put the man on his own donkey and walked the rest of the way while pulling his donkey. Then he took the man to an inn and nursed him back to health. Now, obviously the wounded man had no money on him. So, when he finally woke up and got ready to leave, if he couldn’t pay the debt, he could have been arrested. 

The Samaritan knew this and volunteered money—two denarii, which is the same as two days’ worth of pay—and told the innkeeper that he’d come back to cover any other costs needed to take care of this unidentified man. Knowing all of this, I think it’s pretty safe to say the Samaritan wasn’t expecting his money back. 

Let’s review the story: The robbers hurt the man by violence, the priest and Levite hurt him by neglect. All three are guilty. James 4:17 (NLT) says, “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.”

So, in regards to the neighbor question, Jesus answers it Himself, showing us that we shouldn’t ask “Who is my neighbor?” Instead, we should ask, “Who can I be a neighbor to?” 

By telling this story, I believe Jesus is telling us less about who our neighbor is and more about what it means to be a neighbor. So, the answer to the question “Who is my neighbor?” is simple—anyone can be our neighbor. Kings, slaves, Jews, Samaritans. Our job isn’t to ask who our neighbor is, but to be a neighbor to anyone and everyone we encounter, the same way Jesus loves us. 

Jesus closed his conversation by saying: “Go and do likewise.” So, as we approach the holiday season, let’s make it a habit to heed the Lord’s advice!

DIG: When was the last time you were a “good Samaritan”?

DISCOVER: What does it mean to be a good neighbor? How did Jesus exemplify this?

DO: This holiday season, purpose to be a good Samaritan at least once per week to those around you. 

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.