We’ve all had this happen to us. We’re at a church gathering, a wedding, or some social event with people chattering all around us. They’re animated, laughing or engaged in conversation, apparently enjoying their time together. Yet, we feel like an outsider. An uninvited guest. We stand idly by while the merriment continues. We try, but there’s no way to break in. No accepting smile. We feel excluded. A popular airline ad would work really well here. You know the one I’m precluded from using. So, how’s this one? …wouldn’t you rather be invisible or anywhere else?
Perhaps that’s another reason Jesus gave us the parable of the Good Samaritan.
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ (Luke 10:30-35, NKJV)
We don’t know if the half-dead man called out in pain or if he was completely naked. We do know a priest and a Levite traveled down that same road choosing not to see or hear the man who’d been robbed, stripped, and beaten. To them he was an outsider, invisible to their way of life. He couldn’t add to their conversations or their lofty positions in the synagogue. They had neither the time, desire, nor the heart to include him. Besides, they needed clean hands and robes to perform their important tasks. What would people think if they saw them dirty, arriving late, or speaking with a man in the gutter?
So, what caused the third man, a Samaritan, to show such great compassion? To interact with a near-dead man? He’d obviously soiled his hands and spent time binding this stranger’s bloody wounds. Oil and wine were a few of the resources he’d never recover, not to mention payment for the beaten man’s stay at the inn.
Maybe the Samaritan was retired, filthy rich, an aimless do-gooder with nothing better to do with his time. Or maybe this parable points out what’s lacking in us. Jesus’s heart for others.
What if we’re too busy in our own tight group, enjoying every drop of good-for-me to notice a lost and dying world? To draw in a stranger or someone new to the church. Could we lay aside our important tasks, soil our hands, or take time to show them Jesus? Are we too locked in to who and what we’re so comfortable with that we forget our calling—to go and spread the Gospel?
This parable isn’t limited to this one man on the side of the road, in the gutter of life. Others need Jesus, too. The question is, will we break out of our comfortable circle, our way of life, and take the time to see, touch, talk to, do what Jesus would do for those less fortunate who’ve been robbed, stripped, and beaten?
The mandate in Luke 10:27 still applies: 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.
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Thank you for this stirring reminder that we need to step beyond our cozy circles and see the lost and draw them into the Lord's care.
What a wonderful reminder to be Jesus's hands and feet. It's so easy to become tunnel-focused on what we need or want to do that we miss out on those who are needing God's love. Thanks for this, Erma!