Christ's Object Lessons
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 27: "Who is My Neighbour?"
Based on Luke 10:25-37
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Among the Jews the question, "Who is my neighbour?"
caused endless dispute. They had no doubt as to the
heathen and the Samaritans. These were strangers and
enemies. But where should the distinction be made among
the people of their own nation and among the different
classes of society? Whom should the priest, the rabbi, the
elder, regard as neighbor? They spent their lives in a
round of ceremonies to make themselves pure. Contact
with the ignorant and careless multitude, they taught,
would cause defilement that would require wearisome effort
to remove. Were they to regard the "unclean" as
|The Good Samaritan.—Davis Collection.|
This question Christ answered in the parable of the good
Samaritan. He showed that our neighbor does not mean
merely one of the church or faith to which we belong. It
has no reference to race, color, or class distinction. Our
neighbor is every person who needs our help. Our neighbor
is every soul who is wounded and bruised by the adversary.
Our neighbor is every one who is the property of God. [p. 377]
The parable of the good Samaritan was called forth by
a question put to Christ by a doctor of the law. As the
Saviour was teaching, "a certain lawyer stood up, and
tempted Him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit
eternal life?" The Pharisees had suggested this question
to the lawyer in the hope that they might entrap Christ in
His words, and they listened eagerly for His answer. But
the Saviour entered into no controversy. He required the
answer from the questioner himself. "What is written in
the law?" He asked, "How readest thou?" The Jews still
accused Jesus of lightly regarding the law given from Sinai,
but He turned the question of salvation upon the keeping of
The lawyer said, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God
with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy
strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as
thyself." "Thou hast answered right," Christ said; this do,
and thou shalt live."
The lawyer was not satisfied with the position and works
of the Pharisees. He had been studying the scriptures with
a desire to learn their real meaning. He had a vital interest
in the matter, and he asked in sincerity, "What shall I do?"
In his answer as to the requirements of the law, he passed
by all the mass of ceremonial and ritualistic precepts. For
these he claimed no value, but presented the two great
principles on which hang all the law and the prophets.
The Saviour's commendation of this answer placed Him on
vantage ground with the rabbis. They could not condemn
Him for sanctioning that which had been advanced by an
expositor of the law.
"This do, and thou shalt live," Christ said. In His
teaching He ever presented the law as a divine unity,
showing that it is impossible to keep one precept and break
another; for the same principle runs through all. Man's [p. 378] destiny will be determined by his obedience to the whole law.
Christ knew that no one could obey the law in his own
strength. He desired to lead the lawyer to clearer and
more critical research that he might find the truth. Only
by accepting the virtue and grace of Christ can we keep the
law. Belief in the propitiation for sin enables fallen man
to love God with his whole heart and his neighbor as
The lawyer knew that he had kept neither the first four
nor the last six commandments. He was convicted under
Christ's searching words, but instead of confessing his sin
he tried to excuse it. Rather than acknowledge the truth,
he endeavored to show how difficult of fulfillment the [p. 379] commandment is. Thus he hoped both to parry conviction
and to vindicate himself in the eyes of the people. The
Saviour's words had shown that his question was needless,
since he was able to answer it himself. Yet he put another
question, saying, "Who is my neighbour?"
Again Christ refused to be drawn into controversy. He
answered the question by relating an incident, the memory
of which was fresh in the minds of His hearers. "A certain
man," He said, "went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and
fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and
wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead."
In journeying from Jerusalem to Jericho, the traveler
had to pass through a portion of the wilderness of Judea.
The road led down a wild, rocky ravine, which was infested
with robbers, and was often the scene of violence. It was
here that the traveler was attacked, stripped of all that
was valuable, and left half dead by the wayside. As he
lay thus, a priest came that way; he saw the man lying
wounded and bruised, weltering in his own blood; but he
left him without rendering any assistance. He "passed by
on the other side." Then a Levite appeared. Curious
to know what had happened, he stopped and looked at the
sufferer. He was convicted of what he ought to do, but
it was not an agreeable duty. He wished that he had not
come that way so that he would not have seen the wounded
man. He persuaded himself that the case was no concern
of his, and he too "passed by on the other side."
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