Won't you be my neighbor?

I'm teaching the parables of Jesus to my junior high first day school class this trimester and hopefully, you'll be seeing more posts like this as I prep my lessons.

And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? (Luke 10:25)

Why do people keep asking Jesus this question? Seriously. Lawyer-Guy is all; "What do I need to do to get a cookie? I don't want to clean my room. What if I just make my bed? Is that enough to get a cookie?"

I'd be tempted to tell the guy to just shut up already. If I were to come face to face with someone who I thought had all the answers, I wouldn't be asking him about cookies. Fact of the matter is, I've got access to Jesus (and so do you!) and I've never asked Him about what I need to do to get into heaven.

I've asked "What do you want me to do?" and "Is this okay?" and in fits of anger and despair I've been known to ask "why me?" but I really don't care about heaven. I am willing to believe that God is always just and often merciful and therefore I can trust that I'll deserve whatever comes next. What it is exactly doesn't interest me all that much. Let's get back to the story.

When the lawyer dude who is harassing Jesus this time about his cookie asks for a little clarification about who his neighbors are, Jesus responds with the whole half-dead guy in the ditch story we've heard a million times. You know, some dude passes by, then some other dude passes by, and then this other dude, one of an ethnic group everybody looks down on 'cause they're smelly stops to help out and even pays for the half-dead guy to stay in the motel 6.

But wait. Jesus ends the story with a question:

Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise. (Luke 10:36-37)

Sounds to me like Jesus isn't just telling us that we need to be kind and loving towards everyone (not just our in-group, our literal neighbors, our friends). Seems to me that Jesus is actively shaming our little cookie-seeking lawyer by telling a story about someone who had call to be selective in defining who his neighbors were not only not trying to weasel out of helping others, but actively going out of his way to be kind to a complete stranger in need. I'm going with the shame-on-you version of the story, 'cause I like that Jesus best.

Seeing as my kids really get the whole Yankees/Red Sox rivalry, I'm probably going to work in the story about how A-Rod once saved a kid from getting hit by a car on Newbury Street. The Yankees might well be the closest thing we've got to Samaritans in Boston.