Any time you want to JUSTIFY yourself or your position, your motives are not pure. This attorney felt pretty good about himself. He was used to presenting and arguing a case. But Jesus could see his heart.
Whatever this lawyer had in mind for the answer, it wasn’t the parable of the Good Samaritan. Too often the neighbor is thought to be the man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho who was beaten and left for dead. The neighbor is the object, the one of whom the three other characters encounter. But in the end, Jesus says the Samaritan who showed mercy was the real neighbor.
The lawyer wanted to know who his neighbor was, the one he was supposed to love and as his standard, he was given a Samaritan who showed mercy. The lawyer had pride. He wanted a guideline to follow and most assuredly wanted everyone to think he met that standard. Then Jesus uses a Samaritan, a tribe despised by the Jews. Someone the lawyer thought was beneath him.
You cannot love your neighbor unless God is at the center of your life. Jesus attacked the self-centered life. He requires that not only do you love yourself as a son or daughter of God, you’ve got to love your neighbor as you love yourself. You can’t do that unless you love God supremely. And it’s only as you love God above all, that you can fulfill the second, loving your neighbor as yourself. But in this is all the law in the prophets. This is what the whole Old Testament. It will lead you to loving relationship with God to enable you to have a meaningful relationship with others. God is at the vertical axis of your life to empower you to reach out horizontally.
Do you sift through people and decide who you want to be in relationship with or do you love those who God puts in your path regardless? Do you have qualifiers or are you able to love unconditionally?
Is it an identity crisis? When we don’t know in whose image we are created, we cannot love our neighbor unconditionally.