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The story is told that the famous artist, Guido Reni, was busy with his painting, Ecce Homo (There is the man) (see photo), when a girl, Papita, asked him about it. Reluctantly he told her how Jesus had been beaten, about the crown of thorns, about the cross and why Jesus had done it. Unaware that it was mere history for Reni, Papita said: “Sir, surely you must love Him a lot because He did it all for you.” Reni couldn’t forget her words. It led him to become a Christian. He realised that Jesus had done it all for hím.

It’s said: “Don’t do unto others what you don’t want to be done to yourself.” That sounds quite acceptable. But Jesus goes further than that. He does not say what one should nót do, but what one múst do. Even much more than: “Do to others what you want them to do to you.” His message is: “Do good to others even though you get nothing out of it; even if it is to your own disadvantage.”

Jesus spoke to an expert in the law about the commandment: “You must love your neighbour as yourself.” The man then asked: “Who is my neighbour?” Jesus answered the question by telling a story: “There was once a man who was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when robbers attacked him, stripped him, and beat him up, leaving him half dead.” A priest and a Levite saw him but passed him by. “But a Samaritan who was travelling that way came upon the man, and when he saw him, his heart was filled with pity. He went over to him, poured oil and wine on his wounds and bandaged them; then he put the man on his own animal and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Take care of him,’ he told the innkeeper, ‘and when I come back this way, I will pay you whatever else you spend on him.’ “Then Jesus asked: “In your opinion, which one of these three acted like a neighbour toward the man attacked by the robbers?” (Luke 10: 29-36). It may sound very nice to say: “Don’t do unto others what you don’t want to be done to yourself.” Perhaps Jesus wanted to point out with this story that the priest and Levite could have argued as follows: “It’s not my problem. I don’t harm the man if I pass him by; hence I don’t do anything wrong.” We may also think that we do nothing wrong when we do not help someone in need. The expert in the law wanted to know who is his neighbour. He wanted to know whom he should love as much as he loves himself. But Jesus looks into the heart of the one who must show love and turns the question around: “Which one of these three acted like a neighbour? Which one of these three had the heart of a neighbour?” The question is: “Do I have the love that desires good things for all people in all circumstances?” Someone who loves in this way, forgets himself when he sees the need of another person.

Jesus’ life was a life of service to others without a thought of what He could gain from it. By his death He paid for our sins: But by the free gift of God’s grace all are put right with him through Christ Jesus, who sets them free. God offered him, so that by his blood he should become the means by which people’s sins are forgiven through their faith in him (Rom. 3:24 – 25).

Lord Jesus, help us to be aware of all that You came to do for us. Let us act in love towards everyone, without expecting something in return. Amen.

 

Free email and/or WhatsApp messages weekly from gerberning@gmail.com. Also weekly on the website of the Christian Literature Fund https://clf.co.za/devotionals/. Gert Berning at https://sites.google.com/view/Gert-berning-sites  and on Youtube.