Luke 10:25-37, “36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” 37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
One of the comforting words often shared when someone is facing challenges is “if you need anything, don’t hesitate to call me”. Many times I wonder the reality of these words. Are they many times said in the moments when there is nothing to say, or something easy to say but don’t mean it or has very little meaning or people don’t just think them through? And what does “anything” really mean?
The parable of the Good Samaritan gives us a glimpse of who we should be to our neighbors, the word “anything” fits here well. James would call it practical faith as we will see. Now Jesus gave this parable to a self-righteous man who was prejudice to those he would call neighbors in his quest to find an answer of how to attain eternal life, Luke 10:25-29. The scribes and the Pharisees did not like the Samaritans; they considered themselves more righteous than the tax collectors, prostitutes, Gentiles, and especially the Samaritans. They believed they had what it took to belong and be blessed and those like the Samaritans were not in their league. Jesus was about to straighten him out.
In this passage Jesus addresses in a parable who is considered a neighbor. The neighbor here was not necessarily someone he knew but someone in need. It’s been said that this road from Jerusalem to Jericho was about 17 miles stretch and the road harbored thieves and danger. In the midst of the story we are told that Vs. 30, …” A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead“. In his condition and in desperate need, help did not come from those who should have offered it, a priest vs. 31 and a Levite vs. 32. The priest passed on the other side to avoid him, the Levite somehow stopped to look and then passed also on the other side as well. He was helped by a stranger, vs. “33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had COMPASSION” This is what makes us different, compassion. Jesus was full of compassion, our desire to be like Christ is to have one of His qualities, compassion. Compassion is simply sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others. We act when we are moved, however our hearts can sometimes be so hard and rigid and our prayer always need to be “God take away our heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh”
The man who was wounded was slighted by those who should have been his friends, and was cared for by a stranger, a Samaritan, of the nation which the Jews most despised and detested, and would have no dealings with. Vs. “34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’”. Note what happened when the Samaritan stopped to help 1. He was inconvenienced- he was on a journey and this means his priorities changed. 2. It cost him money – He spent his money that perhaps was set aside for business to help a stranger who was not going to pay him back leave alone even recognize who he was. 3. It cost him time – he was delayed in his journey perhaps upsetting others. 4. He put himself in harm’s way – he had exposed himself to danger by being slowed down and now helping someone else on a road that harbored bad people.
What the Samaritan showed was a mile of excellence. He would have done minimum, but he went all out. It is the duty of us all, in our places, and according to our ability, to succor, help, and relieve all that are in distress and necessity. James addresses this extensively in James chapter 2. His opening encouragement, James 2: “1 My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality”, for “… 14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?” James says our faith is revealed in our works. That if you have faith, you will have works to demonstrate that you have faith. But this is rare even in our churches today, we say silently “depart in peace, be warmed and filled and if you need anything call me…” but sometimes those are just empty words. The Samaritan did not wait to be told what to do; he saw a need and acted on it knowing, it was the right thing to do.
Are we becoming more like that priest or the Levite that we look and sound good by our titles but stink at being filled with compassion to be Christ like? Are we afraid of helping others lest we mess things up for ourselves and get sued? Are we too busy that we somehow say bear your own burdens and we will come watch you or as Paul writes to 3 churches (Galatians 6:2, Ephesians 4:2, Colossians 3:13) and his simple message in this, “bear one another’s burden”. It starts with compassion, may Christ deal with our hearts that we become what we already are in Him by faith. Blessings Ev