During Jesus Christ’s ministry, His faithful disciples often heard gospel principles taught by thought-provoking short stories known as parables. Jesus utilized a fantastic teaching tool, knowing that stories sink deep into the memory. The more a story is pondered, the more meaningful they can become.
Thus, when a lawyer chose to challenge the Savior on a point of doctrine, Jesus used His masterful technique. The Book of Luke, chapter 10 records the event. Attempting to entrap Jesus, the lawyer asked, “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”Jesus responded with a question of His own: “What is written in the law? how readest thou?” The lawyer recited the law perfectly: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself”. Jesus acknowledged the correct answer and replied: “This do, and thou shalt live”.
Having failed to confound the Master, the lawyer was embarrassed. He sought justification by making a further inquiry, “And who is my neighbour?”
Presiding Bishop H. David Burton said “We should be very grateful for the lawyer’s second question! From it came one of the most insightful of the Savior’s parables.”
Jesus’ story begins with these famous words:
“A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed leaving him half dead”.
The first to arrive on the crime scene is a priest. But he hurries over to the other side of the road and quickly walks away. Then a Levite comes down the road, and he refuses to stop or help. The story automatically makes us wonder how a priest and a Levite could walk past a dying, bleeding man. But we like to reassure ourselves that surely we would be different. We would have stopped and helped.
The parable continues: “But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw [the victim], he had compassion on him. And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.”
Upon completing the parable, the Savior asked the lawyer “Which now of these three … was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?”
The lawyer quickly identified that obviously it was the one who had shown mercy—the kind and caring traveler from Samaria.
Jesus then admonished to “go, and do thou likewise” (Luke 10:37; emphasis added)
The doctrine of Jesus Christ is not only based on love but on action. His familiar calls to DO something include: “turn the other cheek”, “go the extra mile”, “love thy neighbor as thyself”, “Take my yoke upon you”, and “Feed my Sheep”. In his Sermon on the Mount, he commanded that we should not only love those who are loveable, but also love our enemies, bless them that curse us, do good to them that hate us, and pray for them that despitefully use us and persecute us. (Matt. 5:44.) He explained the purpose for doing all of this:
“For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so?”
The ultimate goal is not actually what we choose to DO, or our level of performance, but rather what happens inside our hearts because we took action. Developing the desire to serve others out of genuine love and concern, even strangers and enemies, is the way to become truly “Christlike”. The scriptures call this type of love charity, and it is considered the “greatest of all” and the “pure love of Christ” (1 Cor. 13:1-13, Moroni 7:37).
When we develop kindness, love and charity, our hearts are purified. And when our hearts are pure, we are able to dwell with God. (Ps. 24:3–4.)
Jesus is our perfect example in all things. He has “marked the path and showed the way” for us to walk. A simple definition of a “Christian” is a “follower of Christ”. This means one makes a commitment to follow Jesus’ example as closely as possible each day. Jesus was the ultimate example of “GO and DO”. His good works never ceased. He showed the example of reaching out and touching the lives of people who crossed his path daily. He demonstrated that although we can choose to serve the masses (such as feeding the 5,000) the majority of the time we should simply serve individuals. Jesus devoted his life to serving one-by-one (a blind man, a leper, a child, a daughter, a son, a woman, etc…). Likewise, each of us may not be able to provide global relief, but we can make a difference in the life of another. There is a popular saying: “To the world you may not be somebody, but to somebody you are the world.”
Perhaps today we will each be on the lookout for that “somebody” who needs our personal touch. Sometimes even the idea of serving others causes fatigue, or overwhelming inadequacy. But it’s comforting to remember that we are not supposed to save the world. A Savior has already completed that work for each of us. We are not required to “run faster than we have strength”, either. Our former prophet Gordon B. Hinckley taught this principle beautifully. He encouraged us to just “be a little kinder, reach a little higher, do a little better today than you did yesterday”. If we “do the best we can”, the Lord accepts our offering, and He makes up for the rest. And in turn we receive a “new heart” (1 Sam. 10: 9, Ezek. 18: 31, Ezek. 36: 26)
When Jesus walked this earth, it was His hands which touched, lifted, healed, raised and blessed. Now, He continues His work through our hands.