Luke 10:36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”
Luke 10:37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
These are the closing statements of a conversation between Jesus and an expert in the law. Jesus explained to him that we are to love God and love neighbor. Then the man asked, "and who is my neighbor?" Jesus followed up that question with the story of the Good Samaritan. We jump into that story at the very conclusion where Jesus helps him understand that the one who showed mercy was the one who was being a neighbor. Somehow showing mercy to those around us in the world is the key to loving our neighbor -- and we are to "Go and do likewise."
What we find here is an attitude of the heart, one which reflects the very nature of Jesus Christ. Jesus' nature was to go about doing good. Jesus did good for many who ultimately did not end up being his followers. Sometimes people would be excited about what he had done and might be faithful to him for a period of time, but not all. Remember the ten lepers? Jesus loved the lost of the world -- because they were his children and he loved them. Yes, he wanted them to return to a relationship with him, and hence his Father, but ultimately it was simply his nature to heal and show mercy.
Could it be that there are times that we show mercy with an ulterior motive? Often we get wrapped up in the idea that if I do good -- if I'm a good Samaritan -- then I will convert this person to Christianity. Should that be our motivation -- and was that Jesus' motivation? That's the question I have to put before us. Isn't Jesus saying that it should simply be in our nature to show mercy to a needy world around us because we are being transformed into the image of Jesus Christ? No strings attached?
The "Good Samaritan" simply shows mercy because it's in his nature. We are called into this behavior -- to make a difference in the world. We are to "Go and do likewise." Just imagine what would happen if the world would experience an entire army of Christians reaching out in mercy to the needy world around us? The world would be transformed - and ultimately there would be those who would come to Christ -- but the action must simply come from a love for God and love for others. This show of mercy is a revelation of the holiness of God.
We are invited onto the Jesus Way -- into a journey with Jesus Christ in which we are transformed into his holy people. We are then called to step into the world and show his mercy to all those who are our neighbors.
Lord, please help me to be merciful. Amen.