[To answer, "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.'"
— Luke 10:30-35 NLT
Jesus wanted the expert in the Old Testament who had asked "Who is my neighbor?" to realize that the key to God's truth was not just knowing it, but also putting it into practice. Throughout the Bible, we see several great religious "heroes" who had their legalistic adherence to their religion interfere with their practice of the will of God. (Jonah is a great example of this kind of behavior in his attitude toward God's willingness to forgive repentant Ninevites, Israel's immoral and ruthless enemies. ) So to shock this Jewish religious expert and jar the truth into him, Jesus made the hero of the story a Samaritan who would have been despised by most Jews but who did just as God wants his children to do. He was the one who saw the need and acted. And that is what God wants of us: not a hollow religion of words, arguments, and nuances, but a faith that is vibrantly and compassionately lived in the real world.