The Good Samaritan – Christina McConnell
Scripture: Luke 10:25-37
“One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: ‘Teacher, what must I do to receive eternal life?’ Jesus replied, ‘What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?’ The man answered, ”You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!” The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied with an illustration: “A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes and money, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.”
By chance a Jewish priest came along; but when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt deep pity. Kneeling beside him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with medicine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two pieces of silver and told him to take care of the man. ‘If his bill runs higher than that,’ he said, ‘I’ll pay the difference the next time I am here.’ “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”
When I think about this illustration of loving others, I see three principles:
- We often justify our lack of love for certain people. It is actually pretty easy to do most of the time but it is never right. Every person in this world was created by God, in His image, and deserves to be loved;
- Our neighbor is anyone of any race, creed, culture, religion, or social background who is in need. We cannot discriminate; and
- Real love means doing something to meet that other person’s need.
The Samaritan could have felt justified in walking away from the Jewish man, who very likely may have walked away from him if roles were reversed. Jews and Samaritans didn’t get along any better than most ultra-conservative “Christians” and extremist “Muslims” of today. He could have told himself he would help only if it turned out the man was another Samaritan.
And even still, he could have simply tended to his wounds and left; or even just taken him to another Jew to be helped. But he took it upon himself to soothe his wounds with medicine and bandages, gave up his own ride so the guy didn’t have to walk, spent the evening with him helping him feel better, and then gave his own money so the guy would continue to be cared for in his absence. He gave of himself with abundance, holding nothing back.
The Samaritan in this parable shows me God’s boundless mercy for me and illustrates so well how I am supposed to love and serve other people.
I can sometimes easily justify not helping someone who has a need. I’m too busy. I have other commitments. My kids need this or that. I already do enough other things, surely God doesn’t want me to try to do everything!
We should consider this story when we are presented with an opportunity to help someone. I don’t think God wants us to over-commit, but I do believe he puts people in our path for a reason. Whether its the guy in the cubicle next to us whose complaining drives you nuts, or the other mom at school who is constantly bragging about her kids, or the homeless dude holding the sign on the street corner. Perhaps its the kid in the picture who desperately needs a sponsor or a forever family, or the old lady who just wants someone to spend some time with her, or a whole family on the other side of the world who just needs access to clean water. If we feel a tug on our heart to do something that could show others that they are loved, we need to take action and trust that God is doing the real work in us and through us. He is making himself known through our love.
Sometimes we can be the legal expert, asking Jesus to justify how we love, or don’t love, other people. Sometimes we are the priest who is knowledgeable about the “law”, reading our Bible, going to church, doing all the right things, but still walking away from the opportunities he gives us to serve others. And sometimes we are the Jew, desperately hoping for mercy from the people around us. I think Jesus just wants us to see that if we truly love Him, He can give us the capacity to be the good Samaritan and to love others no matter what. He helps us to also see how much we need His love and the love of others.
Thank you for always showing mercy to me. Thank you for teaching me how to love others. Your amazing love for me has no boundaries, no discrimination, no restrictions. Help me to love my neighbors, my co-workers, my family, my friends; people who are different from me, strangers who seem weird, folks who rub me the wrong way. Give me a capacity to love and serve and do for others as you would.
Gently nudge me when I am prone to walk away. Lovingly remind me that I could easily be the one who has been robbed and beaten, and that the mercy and love I crave is what I should freely give.
Help me to be who you want me to be. Use me to serve your children, no matter who and no matter where.
Fill me with your grace, so that I may offer it freely to others.
In Jesus Name,