30 Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he encountered robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. 31 And by coincidence a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan who was on a journey came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, 34 and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own animal, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return, I will repay you.’ 36 Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” 37 And he said, “The one who showed compassion to him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”
– Luke 10:30-37
Parables are visual stories meant to play in the theater of our minds. Jesus tells the parable of a Samaritan who comes to the rescue of a roadside victim after two Jewish religious officials deliberately pass by.
The text notes that the victim is “stripped”—that is, he has no cultural uniform or identity, no “box” or category to assess his affiliations, value, or standing in society. He is the “everyman.” Jesus tells us that instead of being concerned only for our little circle of mutual appreciation, to follow Him is to live in the larger context of the Kingdom, with a different kind of mind and heart that embraces whoever is in need, despite race, religion, nationality, sexual identity, political party, age, or other.
This is uncomfortable.
The upshot of the parable is not, “Who is my neighbor?” but, “What kind neighbor am I?”