“Love your neighbor as yourself,” Jesus once said. But who is your neighbor? Good question.
Someone once asked Jesus that question (Luke 10:29). He responded by telling the story of a traveler who was mugged. Two “respectable” members of the local ethnic majority passed him by on the side of the road. But a third passer-by, a member of a despised ethnic minority, stopped, helped the traveler, and paid for his hospitalization (Luke 10:30-35).
Who was the real neighbor? The one who showed mercy (Luke 10:36,37).
Kind of scary, huh? Do you have to stop for every roadside wreck now in order to be sure of going to heaven?
There is no person alive who has treated his or her neighbors perfectly. Everyone has some selfishness in them. Do we have any hope of heaven?
Not on our own. But there is someone who has treated all of his neighbors perfectly. That person is Jesus. He never sinned once. Everything he did was for other people, not for himself. When it came time to die, Jesus could have chosen not to. But in a last, unselfish act, he died in our place to take the punishment for all of the times we have neglected our neighbors.
Even today, when Jesus sees us mugged on the road of life, he stops, helps us, and reminds us that he has paid the price for us to go to heaven. He has made us more than just his neighbors; he has made us his children.
Who is your neighbor? Jesus. Be glad!