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Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" He said, "The one who showed him mercy." And Jesus said to him, "You go, and do likewise."
ESV Luke 10: 36-37
A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he fell prey to robbers who beat him and left him half-dead on the side of the road. We are not given the name of this man. We are never told why he was on the road or what he had that attracted the robbers’ attention. We are not told his race, age, skin color, or religious affiliation. Simply put, beside the fact that he is a male, the only thing we know about him is that he is a human being, and that he has neighbors or at least should. It is assumed and presumed in this story of the Good Samaritan told from Jesus that this man who is bleeding on the street is part of a community; a community that should be looking out for him and showing him undeserved compassionate mercy.
It is so sad to see those who are supposed to care for the weak, hurting, and vulnerable turn their back on their duty. That is precisely what we have here as a priest, seeing the man half-dead on the road, passes by on the other side (Luke 10: 31). We see it a second time with the Levite who walks up to where the man was, looks down at him, understand the situation, and then walks away (Luke 10: 32). We read this story and are disgusted by the cruelty and the indifference of these people! How can they simply walk by a person so broken with such little compassion? It is as if their heart and mind are so callused that they do not even see the humanity in a fellow personal anymore. They have forgotten what it means to be a neighbor, a relationship lived out in compassion and love (Leviticus 19: 18).
But there is good news in this story! A hero comes. A Samaritan, the least likely person anyone in the community would think would know what God desires for His people and do it, demonstrates mercy (Luke 10: 33-35)! He is not too busy to help. He does not lecture the half-dead man on how he put himself in this situation and had it coming. He does not accuse the man of deserving what he got or try to point back to some situation in the man’s life that led him to this point. He certainly does not take that moment as an opportunity to victimize the man further by taking what little left he had, kicking him when he’s down. No. He takes time to be a neighbor. He takes time as he sees the humanity in his fellow person. He takes time to show mercy.
So who is this Good Samaritan in the story of Jesus? This parable of Jesus is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning for us to see the nature of mankind, the heart of God, and the relief we have in Christ. The Good Samaritan is a figure that represents Jesus, a person whom the world thought nothing good would come from (John 1: 46). This is a story about how God took time to come in mercy to His broken and bleeding people, fallen prey to sin and evil, now helpless and hopeless on the road of life. It is in this parable that we see the unexpected love of God and the extent to which He would go to demonstrate that love, paying for the healing of the hurting (Luke 10: 34-5). A healing that ultimately is seen in the balm of His blood on the cross.
This is what our Lord has done for you. When you look at your life and feel as though you are a victim by the chances, changes and chaos of this life, our Lord moves to you. When those you thought would always be quick to help, especially those who have made oaths to care for you as a Priest or Levite, but simply walk by, our Lord comes quickly to remind you that He will never abandon you (Deuteronomy 31: 38; Psalm 139; 73; Romans 8: 38-39; Hebrews 13:5). He has and will meet you wherever you are in this life, regardless of the circumstances, just as He met the disciples mending their nets, tax collectors in their homes, Zacchaeus in a tree, and the Pharisees in their pride. You have God’s compassionate mercy. It is your treasure, you are His.
So now, hear the words at the end of the parable of the Good Samaritan, “you, go and do likewise” (Luke 10: 37). Be a neighbor to those around you. Do not treat them as inconveniences, or someone else’s problem. See their humanity. See their need and show them mercy. Take the time to care. Do not turn your back on this duty. It doesn’t matter their ethnicity, skin color, religious affiliation, or their age. Recognize they have a story, one much like ours, full of ups and downs, changes, and chaos. Meet them where they are at, hear their story, then tell them Christ’s story of how He meets them where they are at. You do not have to be a hero; in fact, you cannot be. But you can point to the One who has already saved them. By God’s grace may the calluses of our heart, calluses we all have, begin to soften as our eyes are opened to the love of God in Christ Jesus. May we not look at the people around us and ignore their pain, treat them as if they deserve their helpless, explain away their pain, or even kick them when they are down. My prayer for you this month is that God give you more opportunities and foresight to take the time to be intentional neighbors to the human beings in your life so that they will no longer be strangers but objects of the mercy they desperately need. To God be all the glory.
In His Strength, (Philippians 4: 13)
Rev. Dr. Patrick Lovejoy
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