Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.”
A man in Jacksonville, Florida, got on his motorcycle one beautiful spring Sunday morning, and headed toward I-95. He was totally looking forward to a visit at St. Augustine National Park.
Before he was quite out of the city, an old 1972 Ford pickup rattled up behind him and pushed him into the wall of a nearby warehouse. Three men with knives and chains got out of the truck and beat and slashed the man on the bike. They took his wallet, stripped him of his clothing and all of the valuables he had. Then they left him for dead.
About an hour or so later, the pastor of a nearby mega church drove down the street on his way to worship. He slowed his pristine Honda NSX-R and looked at the man. Then he looked at his Gucci watch and shoes. He looked at the man again, and shook his head. No time, he thought. I have a lot of people waiting for me to open the Word of God for them this morning. And he moved on.
An hour later the head deacon of the First Fruits Bible Church drove down the street on his way to church. He saw the beaten man and stopped. The man’s hair was longer than the deacon’s wife’s. The deacon watched the blood drip over the big tattoo on the man’s right arm, and shook his head. This man couldn’t have been on his way to church where he should have been going; he had practically asked to be mugged. The deacon moved on. He was in charge of the church outreach programs, and they had a meeting before Sunday school that morning.
Within the hour, a Prius came down the street, and pulled over to the curb where the man lay, still bleeding. A gay black woman with a clerical collar and a Latino man who was an immigrant got out and looked at the situation. She picked up her anointing oil , some bottled water and called 911. The Latino went over and put his ear on the man’s chest. There was a faint heartbeat, though he was not conscious. The woman poured water on the unconscious man’s wounds, and anointed them with oil. The Latino man covered the unconscious man with his own jacket, and watched over him. They both spoke words of comfort and hope to him until the ambulance arrived.
They followed the wounded man to the hospital. The woman made a payment in advance on the bill, and the Latino gave all of the information they had to the police. Before they left, the woman gave the ER nurse her number to call if no family could be found, and they would see that he was cared for.
Which of these was the neighbor of the man who fell among thieves?
(Comments are moderated.) Note: This is a joint writing effort with my daughter, Sarah. Feel free to visit her blog