Rev. Sudha Mehta©
good samaritan 4 from lds.org
Luke 10: 25 One day an expert in the law stood up to test Him. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” Jesus replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus said. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 Jesus took up this question and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.
31 Now by chance a priest was going down the same road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32 So too, when a Levite came to that spot and saw him, he passed by on the other side.
good samaritan 5 freebibleimages
33 But when a Samaritan on a journey came upon him, he looked at him and had compassion. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Take care of him,’ he said, ‘and on my return I will repay you for any additional expense.’
36 Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 “The one who showed him mercy,” replied the expert in the law.
Then Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”(BSB)
good samaritan 5 freebibleimages
There was a crowd around. Spectator’s abounded.
Whenever Jesus spoke or did miracles in public there were several types of people around:
1 The Spectators who were just curious. Perhaps they happened to be there quite “by chance.” Perhaps they came because they were curious, just to watch the show. Among this group there were also the Scoffers. Scoffers were spectators who waited for Jesus to take the bait that someone else cast. They saw and heard, but walked away unchanged and waited for the next time. Scoffers just wanted a good show just as at a sports event. They just wanted to Spectate and cheer or jeer.
2 The religious leadership which was determined to make Jesus fail and fall. They saw Jesus as a huge threat to their power and authority. They came to entrap and make a spectacle of Him, so that their religio-political clout would be enhanced, not damaged. The understanding of God Word was definitely not in them.
3 The poor/hungry/needy/sick/demonized who needed help. These had a genuine need, and here was the Creator Himself in human flesh, bringing His own compassion and power that they might experience His True Love.
4 The genuinely hungry for truth. These needed more than miracles, or deliverance. Their quest was indeed “The Truth”. These had been waiting for the Messiah, and the long-awaited Messianic kingdom. They did not understand that He had to come as the Suffering Messiah (Isaiah 53) first to set them free from the curse of Sin, before He could come as a conquering Messiah to establish His Kingdom on Earth. They came to see, learn and hear. These became the true disciples.
Jesus understood that He was constantly tested by the religious leaders and lawyers, but He was never unnerved by them. He often answered their question with a question making it necessary for them to explain/defend themselves . . . which they didn’t like.
In this exchange Jesus asks His question to which He recieves a correct reply. But then comes the follow-up question “Who is my neighbor?
In reply Jesus tells a story I believe to be true. He uses this example to make the distinction between a spectator and an invested actor (doer).
The characters in the story are real men, the location was real and well known by those listening. The road to Jericho from Jerusalem was noted for it’s dangers. Bandits were known to target especially the single traveler. The road was long, about 17 miles downhill from Jerusalem and therefore not doable in one day, which meant there were inns for travellers to stop after dark for rest and safety.
It is generally assumed that the traveler was Jewish, but the text never identifies him. The other three men are identified as two Jewish and one Samaritan.
I think it is on purpose that the Lord did not identify the victim, the point of the story is to illustrate who would be considered a neighbor. He was simply a human. Anything else becomes immaterial.
He was simply a human in need.
The first two men that were heading away from Jerusalem to Jericho were both Jews and part of the Temple staff. The first a Priest and the second a tad lower but still a Levite. The Levites were the tribe of Levi chosen by God Himself for service to Him for all aspects of Temple worship.
All men, including the victim were traveling alone, likely by donkey since the journey was many miles, and all would have been heading to the closest inn for safety after dark. Daylight didn’t keep the daring bandits from attacking the first traveler, whom they robbed and left half dead.
One can assume he likely looked well-to- do and hence “worth robbing.” Why else would they attack? If he was ragged looking, and poor, what would be the sense? His clothes were gone, probably were worth some good money. If he was well dressed, which is likely, he probably had money and/or jewels on him, which were taken. His animal was also missing. At this point, a bloodied and mangled mess, mostly naked and near death, there was no way to tell whether the man was rich or poor, Jew or Gentile. He is just human.
Mr. Priest came along, saw the naked and half dead man, (not dead yet), probably heard groaning, perhaps made eye contact, but decided to cross over and pass by the other side.
In a bit of time, Mr. Levi came along. To a dying man time was critical. Each moment he was getting more than “half-dead.” Shock would be setting in, tempratues dropping, he might even have passed out by this time. Anyway, Mr. Levi decided to do the same.
Priests and Levites had strict rules to follow in service. Touching a dead body would have made them unclean. It’s true. If they were heading to Jerusalem, this excuse could work, but they were heading away from the city indicating that they were done with duty for now. Besides the man wasn’t dead yet! Perhaps they thought he might be dead? . . . it’s possible they thought he could die any moment, so better to just not touch? . . .
I am thinking they were done with this round of service at the Temple and heading for a break in warmer tepratures, and simply didn’t want to get involved in something that might cut into breaktime and create complications. Maybe, family and friends were waiting in Jericho for a family vaction. Many moneyed people had winter homes there to get away from the cold of Jerusalem. Who wants vacation to be messed up?! . . . Just sayin’
Then came Mr. Samaritan, generally considered a half-breed and shunned by the Jews. So hated were the Samaritans, that the Jews made every attempt to stay clear of them and preferred avoiding the region entirely and taking the long way around Samaria . . . unless they had no ither choice.
Mr Samaritan had no incentive to help this man. He was on business, this would be an impediment to his time, it was even later in the day than it had been, and it would cost him money. Like Mr. Priest and Mr. Levi, he could have gone on by. It didn’t matter though, Mr. Half-Breed saw this man as just human, and in need of critical care.
Mr Samaritan chose not to walk by. He had oil and wine with him which could be used for first aid and triage. He dressed the victim’s wounds, helped him to his own animal and now traveling somewhat slower, headed to the nearest inn.
Here the innkeeper was able to get medical help. Mr. Samaritan paid this unknown human’s expenses and gave the innkeeper extra money for whatever else might have been needed. Before leaving in the morning, he even instructed the inn keeper to charge any additional expences for this starnger to his account, and that he would reimburse him on the way back.
I believe Mr. Samaritan was a frequent business traveler and known to the innkeeper for his frequent stays at the inn. The innkeeper trusted the man to keep his word.
Now Jesus asked which man did the neighborly act. The Lawyer had to admit the only one who had proved himself a good neighbor was the Samaritan.
We can safely conclude that this victim, whether Jew or Gentile had his life changed that fateful day. We can be sure he never forgot being left naked and half dead roadside, beaten and bloodied. Surely he never forgot the kindness of a stranger, a Samaritan; even as he never forgot those religious “godly” figures who turned away and left him dying. Surely, the scars on his body reminded him and his loved ones many times that assumptions can be wrong, stereotypes can be misleading.
I am reminded of a story many decades ago of a man, a Brahmin in India. Back then the caste system was still quite in vogue. This Brahmin was in a terrible accident and needed blood during surgery. It was a life and death situation. The doctors found the right bloodtype, and his life was saved. When he woke in the hospital he asked to meet the blooddonor so he could express his gratitude. His life was saved by this person’s kindness. Fortunately the blood donor was in the hospital still, so they were able to get him. When this stranger walked into the room of the recovering man, the Brahmin whose life was saved was speechless for the man who saved his life by donating his own blood was a man of the lowest caste.
You can translate this story from the Bible to any country, any culture, any era. You will still find stereotypes that divide people, assumptions that make us regard one life more important than another.
All the while, the question remains: Who is my neighbor?
Given a person in need, will you be the Brahmin, the Imam, the Priest, the Levite, the Father, the Rabbi, the Padre, the Sadhu, and walk by . . . or will you be the good Samaritan, who saw past all assumptions, and became more than a spectator. Will you step into action and be a good neighbor, or will you spectate, and see only your life , your needs, your desires, your invonvenience as bigger and more important than the need of your neighbor.
In other words “Is it all about you?!
Will you be my neighbor?! Or . . . will you just be a sidestepping spectator??!!
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