One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”
The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”
The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
“By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.
“Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’
“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”Luke 10:25-37
Injustice isn’t new. It’s been around a long time. There was injustice in this world when Cain did not treat his brother Abel with respect but instead took Abel’s life (Genesis 4:8). Sarai treated Hagar unfairly after Sarai gave Hagar to her husband as a second wife. Hagar became pregnant with Abram’s child (Genesis 16:6). Sarai’s jealousy caused injustice. Abram, on the other hand, didn’t treat Sarai with the dignity she deserved as he agreed to take Hagar as his wife.
Then we have Jacob, Abraham’s grandson, who was unjust in his treatment of Joseph, a son of his old age. Joseph received special privileges (including a coat of many colors) from Jacob that his other brothers didn’t receive (Genesis 37:3). Jacob’s unjust treatment of his sons caused hatred toward their younger brother. And they responded by selling Joseph off as a slave (Genesis 37:27).
Injustices ravage this broken world. But injustice is not God’s desire for his creation. He desires us to treat everyone with dignity and fairness, to show no one partiality.
In the law mediated by Moses (the first five book of the Bible), God made this abundantly clear. “Do not twist justice in legal matters by favoring the poor or being partial to the rich and powerful. Always judge people fairly” (Leviticus 19:15). “He (God) ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing” (Deuteronomy 10:18).
These two passages show us that God makes all (no matter economic status, no matter parentage, no matter marital status, no matter citizenship) equal. Jesus makes it clear too in his parable of the good Samaritan. This parable shows us how to act towards other people – out of love and respect and a willingness to be sacrificial to one another. It is exactly what our world needs right now.