One day a lawyer, testing the Savior’s knowledge of Jewish law, asked Him, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25.)
Instead of answering directly, the Lord asked the lawyer what the scriptures said. The man replied, “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” (Luke 10:27).
The Savior told the man that that was right and that if he did those things, he would inherit eternal life.
The lawyer then asked who his neighbor was, because according to Jewish law, only other Jews were considered to be “neighbors.” Other people were not. Perhaps, as Elder James E. Talmage, a former member of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles, suggested, “If he had to love his neighbors as he loved himself, he wanted to have as few neighbors as possible” (Jesus the Christ, page 431).
In answer to the man’s question, the Savior told a story:
A man was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the road between the two cities, the traveler was attacked by thieves who robbed him of everything, including his clothes, and beat him up. As he lay by the road near death, a Jewish priest passed by. When he saw the man, he didn’t help him. Maybe he feared that the thieves would attack him. Or perhaps he was in a hurry. Whatever his excuse, he didn’t stop but crossed the road and continued on his way.
Next, a Levite, another type of Jewish priest, came by. He also chose not to help the injured man but crossed to the other side of the road and continued on his way.
Finally a Samaritan came down the road. This was a man whose people were greatly disliked—even hated—by the Jews because Samaritans had different religious beliefs. But this man didn’t care if the man was a Jew or another Samaritan. He stopped and helped the injured man. He cleansed the man’s wounds with wine, soothed them with oil, and bandaged them. Then, putting the wounded man on his beast, the Samaritan took him to an inn and cared for him throughout the night.
The Samaritan had to leave the following day, but he gave the innkeeper two pence, the amount of money most men earned in two days, and told the innkeeper to take care of the man. He promised that if the man’s care cost more than that, he would repay the innkeeper later.
When He had finished the story, Jesus asked the lawyer which of these travelers was the injured man’s neighbor. The lawyer answered, “He that shewed mercy on him” (Luke 10:37). Jesus then told the lawyer to go and do likewise. (See Luke 10:25–37.)
Just as it was for the lawyer, the Lord’s lesson for us today is that everyone is our neighbor, regardless of religious or other differences. We believe everyone has the right to worship as he or she pleases, and no matter what religious beliefs people have, we are commanded to love them, respect their beliefs, and willingly help them in times of need.