January 18, 2016
The story of the Good Samaritan is a familiar sermon subject. We probably feel like we know just about everything about this passage of Scripture. The priest was shameful because he was a spiritual leader and did not even look at the man along the road – kept right on walking. The Levite, although he did take a look, was no better because the Bible says “he passed by.” One has to wonder what was going through their minds as they proceeded. “I wonder what is for supper.” “I hope I get home before dark.” “I hope someone will stop and help that half-dead man.” “Look, a beautiful wild flower.” “I’m a good servant of God.”
We can all relate and feel the guilt of neglecting to do what we fully understood needed to be done. We justify for the sake our own sanity when we do not “love our neighbors as ourselves.” “A certain lawyer” had asked Jesus the question, “Who is my neighbor?” He did not really want to hear the Lord’s answer; he was being a smart aleck. Verse 25 of Luke 10 says he was “tempting” the Lord. His was not a searching heart, but a prideful one. If you ever spar with the Lord, you are going to lose. I rather imagine this “certain lawyer” never forgot this conversation. His smugness received a lesson from the Master Himself, not the notch in his belt he was looking for.
I want to turn our attention, however, to the “certain man” in Luke 10:30. “And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.” I have always thought that the man left on the side of the road for dead was a Jew. He may very well have been, but the Scripture does not say that. Is this a blunder on the Lord’s part – of course not. He told the story exactly as He wanted it. He could have designated who the “certain man” was, but He did not. Let’s consider who this man might have been.
We don’t know anything about him except that his clothes had been taken by thieves, wounded to the point of being half-dead. Now, anyone in this condition has no marks of identification. He might have been a very poor person – that is no doubt how he appeared to those who passed by. He certainly did not appear to be rich or a person of rank or education. He was stripped and half-dead. If you think about it, he probably was not poor. Why would thieves attack a broken down poor person with nothing worth taking? Wouldn’t the thieves be hiding, waiting for just the right prey to come along – someone who had something worth taking?
Why mention this? The Good Samaritan is the hero in this story. He is the good example for us to imitate. Who is our neighbor? Anyone. What should we do for our neighbor? Whatever it takes to win them to the Lord.
The priest and the Levite, going down from Jerusalem to Jericho would have been inconvenienced to stop and help this “beggar” or whoever he was. Was it not just as inconvenient for the Good Samaritan? He too was on the dangerous and long journey down the mountain, but he took the time. He paid the price.
Think beyond the parable. Who do you supposed this “certain man” turned out to be? He could have been a fellow priest or Levite. He could have been a friend or family member of theirs. He could have been a literal neighbor – someone they passed on the street frequently. He could have been rich, and would repay above and beyond what had been given to help him when he was in dire straights.
The Good Samaritan did not consider who this “certain man” was; he simply did what was necessary and right. Speaking to the “certain lawyer,” the Lord chose to make the example of a real “neighbor” a Samaritan, a race the Jews despised. He gave this Bible “expert” much to ponder – reeking havoc on his religion! There are several lessons to glean from this parable, but it is abundantly clear that we need to give the Gospel to anyone and everyone. Sometimes that means we must be inconvenienced and may have to sacrifice for others. It may just be that very thing that will teach them what it really means to love God with all of our being in word AND deed. People all around us are “half-dead.” They are alive physically, but dead spiritually. It is our calling as Christians to rescue the perishing and not pass them by. Remember the example of the Good Samaritan.