Being a Neighbor

Only Jesus could simplify spiritual matters in a way that anyone can understand.  He summed up the Ten Commandments into two–love God and love your neighbor (Mark 12:30, 31).  When a lawyer asked Jesus the question, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered by telling a parable about the man who was attacked on his way to Jericho by robbers and left for dead on the road.   Two men passed by, first a priest who passed by on the other side and then a Levite who looked and passed by the other side.   It’s interesting that both of these men who were associated with the priesthood did not minister to the injured man but left him there until a kind stranger stopped to help him.

Through this wonderful illustration of love and compassion, we learn that our neighbor is not only the person who lives next door or opposite but any person in need.  To be a neighbor is to care for others–show kindness and to help them in whatever way we can.  After Jesus finished telling the story, He asked the question, “So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”  The lawyer replied, “He who showed mercy on him.”  Jesus told him to go and do likewise (Luke 10:36, 37).

A neighbor is not necessarily someone of our race, culture, background or religion.  It was a Samaritan, not a Jew who stopped to help the man.  In those times, Jews didn’t associate with Samaritans (John 4:9).  To be a neighbor is not to allow our prejudices to prevent us from helping those who are different from us.

When it comes to loving your neighbor there partiality isn’t a factor.  The Samaritan didn’t see an enemy lying at the side of the road but a person who was badly in need of help.  He felt compassion for him and getting off his donkey, he went over to him and bandaged his wounds before taking him to an inn where he could recuperate.  Being a neighbor means setting aside our differences and demonstrating the love of God to others.

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right – James 2:8

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Jesus’ Family Tree

Knowing where you come from is very important.  Nowadays, there are ways that you can find out about your ancestry.  In some cultures, including Jesus’, genealogies are very important.   Matthew begins Jesus’ genealogy with these words, “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”

Why does Matthew begin the family tree with King David and Abraham?  Well, he wanted show that Israel’s hope had been fulfilled in the coming of Christ.  The promise of Abraham “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3) is fulfilled in Jesus as the Saviour of the world.”  As the Son of David and his direct descendant, Jesus is qualified to be Israel’s King.  The birth of Jesus showed that God had fulfilled His promises to Abraham and David.

It was unusual to include women in genealogies but four are mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy.  Tamar who had children with Judah, her father-in-law because he wronged her; Rahab, a Jericho prostitute who helped two Jewish spies; Ruth, a Moabite woman who made God her God because of he mother-in-law, a Jewish widow and Bathsheba, King Solomon’s mother.  Bathsheba is the only one of the four women who is not mentioned by name.  She is called the wife of Uriah, the Hittite.  King David had committed adultery with her while Uriah was away fighting for king and country.

These four women are not type of women you would expect to find in the genealogy of the Son of God.  It just goes to show that these women like all sinners can be redeemed by God and used to accomplish His will.  It is clear that we are precious to God and therefore, despite our sinful nature, are valuable to Him.

Sources:  Matthew 1; Zondervan Handbook to the Bible

Stubborn Faith

He was where he always was, sitting by the road begging. And when he heard that Jesus was there in the city of Jericho, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

It was an urgent cry from a man who was blind.  His world was plunged in darkness.  It was all he knew.  It was what drove him to beg by the side of the road.  It was what filled him with despair.  He could feel the warmth of the sunshine but could not see its brilliance.  He could hear the birds singing but could not see their beauty.

Today, Jesus who healed the sick, gave sight to the blind and made the lame walk, was here in Jericho.  This was a golden opportunity for Bartimaeus to receive his sight.  He knew that Jesus could help him.  He had to cry out.  He did but the crowd told him to be quiet. Stubbornly, he cried out all the more.  This time Jesus heard him and stopped.  He commanded that the man be brought to Him.  The people were encouraging this time and they said to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.”

Throwing aside his garment, Bartimaeus went to Jesus.  He was throwing aside the life he had known to embrace a new one.  He went to Jesus.

Jesus asked him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” No doubt Jesus knew what he wanted but when we go to the Lord, we must be specific in our petitions.  Bartimaeus answered, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.”  This was something that he had always wanted, longed for and now he was about to receive it.

Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.

Jesus responded to the urgent cry of a blind man whose stubborn faith refused to be silenced or discouraged.  When we cry out the Lord in faith, He will hear us.  He will respond to our greatest need.  And our response is to follow Him.

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