One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." (NIV, Mark 12:28-31).
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?" He answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live." But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.' "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise." (NIV, Luke 10:25-37 )
By the time of Jesus, the Jews and Samaritans had been enemies for hundreds of years. The Jews considered the Samaritans to be religious heretics of a foreign nationality and inferior race, and Jews would have no contact with Samaritans. The Samaritans never forgave the Jews for destroying their temple.
The Samaritan man gave freely of both his time and his money to help a Jewish man who was not only a stranger, but also was of a different religion, a foreigner and an enemy of his people. In His Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus challenges us to "Go and do likewise." We do not have to agree with other people's beliefs and opinions or condone their actions, but Jesus calls us to overcome our prejudices and show our kindness to all people of the world and consider them our "neighbors."
Related verses: Matthew 5:43-48, 22:34-40, Luke 6:27-36, John 13:34-35, Romans 12:17-21