Paul Thigpen tells a cute story about his wife reading to their two year old son, Elijah, at bedtime. She was reading to him Jesus's story of the Good Samaritan. She got to the place in the story where the expert in the law confronted Jesus with a question. The lawyer asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
At that point little Elijah spoke up with what he thought was the answer, "I know! Mr. Rogers!"
I grew up on Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and many of you probably did too. The values and lessons we learned through this program helped shape us to who we are today. Jesus Christ motivates us sometimes through programs such as Mr. Rogers's show. But the underlining motivation that Jesus uses to inspire us is LOVE. Jesus always motivates through love.
Let's take another look at the Good Samaritan story. For some of you this will be a visit to one of your favorite stories. For others of you it may be a first visit. Jesus tells this story in the book of Luke. The story goes as follows. There was a man who was walking on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. This is a very dangerous road and robbers jumped the man. They did not just take his money, they unmercifully beat him up. His body was bruised and bloody. His clothes were ripped. The robbers left the man lying on the edge of the road.
Some time had gone by when a Jewish priest came walking on the road. He saw the beaten man but decided to walk on the other side of the road and leave him there. Next, a Levite came by and he went up and looked at the injured man. After staring at the man, he decided he did not want to bother with him either so he also walked by on the other side of the road. A little time later, a Samaritan came walking down the road. Now, you need to understand that the Jews hated the Samaritans. Samaritans were only part Jewish and so the Jews did not accept them. So what this Samaritan was about to do was very uncharacteristic. He saw the bloodied man. His heart went out to him. You see, it did not matter if the man was of a different race or religion. It did not matter whether they had anything in common or not. All that mattered was that he helped this man. The Samaritan was motivated by love. The Samaritan poured olive oil and wine on the man's wounds and then took him to an inn where he nursed him back to health.
The next morning, the Samaritan cave some money to the inn keeper and said: "Take care of this man. If this is not enough money then I will pay you back when I come again."
Jesus motivates us through love. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. Let's commit to living our lives like the Good Samaritan. That's what living is all about!