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Samaritan Neighbor

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“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ … I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” – Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., at the civil rights March on Washington, August 28, 1963.

Text: Luke 10:25-37; Acts 10:28,34-35

Prop: pictures of people from different races clipped from magazines or other sources

Summary: The story of the Good Samaritan teaches us to treat all people as our neighbors.

Asian girlLook at these pictures I brought with me today. Each little girl is from a different race. They are Asian, African, and Indian (not Native American). Today’s lesson teaches us to treat all people as our neighbors. Have you heard someone say “He is a Good Samaritan,” and they meant he really cared about other people? That saying comes from a story Jesus told one day.

A teacher of God’s laws asked Jesus a tricky question: what must I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus answered him by asking what he thought the Bible taught. The teacher said we should love God and love our neighbor. (see Deut. 6:5 and Lev. 19:18) Jesus said he was right. But the teacher, who wanted to prove he was a good person, asked him who is my neighbor?

African girl(Read Luke 10:30-37) The priests and Levites were the religious leaders. They led the people in worship and taught God’s laws to the people. What a bad example the religious leaders gave in this story because they thought they were too good to get involved with the man who was beaten and robbed. They were so strict about obeying the law that they forgot that the very heart of the law was to have mercy. They thought it would make them “unclean” to touch the wounds so they kept their distance and ignored this poor man in need.

Jesus must have surprised those listening to this story when he told them the Samaritan was the hero. The Israelites hated the Samaritans. The Samaritans were a different race of people (of Israelites married to Canaanites). The Israelites looked down on the Samaritans. They despised them and wouldn’t even speak to them on the street. (Acts 10:28) If we learn to hate people because they look different from us, then we think we are better than others because of our race. This is called racism. Jesus taught that this is wrong. It must have made the teachers mad to hear Jesus make a person that they hated the “good guy” in this story.

Indian girlThe Samaritan didn’t think he was better than others. He didn’t think he was too good to help. He showed mercy to the beaten stranger and treated him like a neighbor. This is how Jesus turns the ways of the world upside-down. He teaches us to love our enemies, to love all people, and not just to love those that look and act and think as we do.

A few years later the disciple Peter finally understood what Jesus was trying to teach. (Read Acts 10:34-35) When Peter said God is no respecter of persons that meant God does not treat one person better than another. Our race does not matter to God. We should be willing not only to help people in need, but also learn to love all people as God does.

©2000 by Jim Kerlin. All rights reserved.

This article was written by Jim

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