Jesus was meeting with His followers when an expert in the Law of Moses stood up and asked Him a question. “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus pointed Him to the Scriptures, which say, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” (See Deut. 6:5; Lev. 19:18.)
Then the lawyer asked, “Who is my neighbor?” Rather than give a list of whom the man should love, Jesus responded with a parable. Jesus’ story about the Good Samaritan surprised the people who heard it. The priest and Levite—men dedicated to serving God—neglected to help the man in need. By showing mercy, the Samaritan (whom Jews considered a social outcast) proved to be a neighbor to the man in need. Jesus told the lawyer, “Go and do the same.”
Jesus did not directly answer the question, “Who is my neighbor?” The lawyer asked the wrong question; he was seeking to justify himself, to meet the minimum requirements of the Old Testament law with the hope of gaining eternal life. Rather, Jesus taught that the lawyer should love without limits and demonstrate love with action.
In this parable, we see the beauty of the gospel. Point out to the kids you teach that like the good Samaritan, God saw that we needed to be rescued. We were dead in our sin and unable to help ourselves. God showed His love when He sent His Son, Jesus, to save us from sin.
Jesus came to us and provided salvation, forgiveness, and everything we need. As we look to Him, He continues to take care of us. Emphasize that, as a result, God calls us to show His love for the world by loving others as He has loved us.
Who in the story do you most identify with—the Good Samaritan or the man in need? Why? Leave a comment below.
Here is more help for leaders preparing for the June 18, 2017 session (Unit 22, Session 3) of The Gospel Project for Kids.
Alyssa Jones has been a content editor for The Gospel Project for Kids since 2011. She lives with her husband, Nate, and their two kids in Nashville, TN. Alyssa volunteers with the kids’ ministry at Refuge Church, a church plant in Franklin, TN.