It was a warm day, Jesus was enjoying the company many people who came to hear him speak. Within the crowd was a young man who spent most of his life reading and studying the scriptures. Jesus could tell that the young man had a heavy heart, so he asked the young man, “What’s on your mind?” The young man looked at Jesus and said, “You keep talking about ‘eternal life.’ What do I need to do to get this eternal life?”
Jesus smiled, knowing that this was a ‘test question’ to see how he would answer. Jesus said, “What have you heard? What do you think of what others told you?”
The young man thought for a second, and answered, “Well, what I have heard from so many is that I simply need to love the divine with everything I am; with every passion, prayer, and fiber of my being.”
“Is that all?” Jesus asked.
“No, I should also love the people around me, just as much as I love myself.”
Jesus smiled, still knowing this was a test, “Good answer! Now, live your life by doing just that and all will be good.”
The young man took a second, and popped the ‘test’ question on Jesus; he was looking for a loophole, a way out of having to do what he knew was right, so he asked, “And just how would you define ‘people around me’?”
Jesus started to laugh, and said. “Looking for a loophole? Let me share a story.”
Jesus sat back and said, “One day a young women was trying to escape the oppression of a government set out to kill her. She walked for days on end to reach safety. On the way she was attacked by a group of men who took everything he had, everything; they took all she had and left him naked on the side of the road. They beat and abused her so badly they thought she was dead. They just walked away laughing, looking for their next victim. Luckily, she was alive. A Pastor from a local church was on his way to the Hospital to visit a sick church member. When the Pastor saw the women laying on the ground naked and covered in blood he crossed the street. He ignored the her and looked the other way. But as few moments later, as luck would have it, a good church-going Deacon showed up, but he also avoided the injured women. He feared putting her in his car because another member might come by and wonder why a married man would have a naked women in his car.”
When Jesus was done telling the story, he turned to the young man and said, “So, what do you think?” The man was silent. Jesus added, “Out of the three people, the Pastor, the Deacon, and the Atheist, who do you think ‘cared for the people around, when caring for the women left for dead on the side of the road?”
“The one who cared for her and took care of her regardless of the cost,” the young man replied. Jesus found it amusing that the young man used such general terms to answer the question. Jesus knew this, because he knew that they young man could never see the Atheist as the better person.
Jesus said, “Good, now simply do the same.”