Monday, August 9, 2010

The Good Samaritan

Luke 10:25-37

The Good Samaritan is probably one of the most famous 'stories' from the Bible, but when we look at it a little more closely we discover some things that someone might miss at first glance.  The man who began this discussion was an expert in the Law.  He quoted from Deuteronomy and Leviticus concerning the most important laws.  He understood we have to give God everything and we must love others.  Even though he understood this, he was still looking for a way out, so he asked who is my neighbor.  Jesus did not answer this question.  Jesus told him how to be a neighbor.  He knew the reason behind the question and he spoke to that.

In the parable, Jesus made sure to use examples that would challenge this man's world view.  He used a priest and a Levite, the highest in the 'holy' game of Jewish society.  Both of those in his example passed the man.  The one that tended to him was a Samaritan, a pariah in Jewish society.  Samaritans were not pure Jews.  They were a mixed race.  They were a people to be avoided.  We see this in the expert's answer.  He can not bring himself to say Samaritan.  He says, "The one who had mercy on him."

This Samaritan helped the guy out and that was wonderful, but let's look at the way he helped him out.  He bandaged his wounds.  He was willing to make himself unclean to help the guy.  He took him to an inn so he could rest and recuperate.  He also left money with the innkeeper in case the guy needed anything else.  He went out of his way, spent his money, and risked infection himself to help this guy.

A few lessons:  God doesn't always give us the answers we want.  He does give us the answers we need though.  Are we prepared to be a neighbor to ANYONE who crosses our path?  If not, why not?  Continue to check yourself and work on it.  When we do help a neighbor, are we helping them like we think they need or are we helping with what they actually need?  Let's be careful to help as we are called to and work on the need they give us.  For instance, people will say they don't want to give a homeless man money because he'll just use it on alcohol.  It is not our place to judge what he does with it.  If we are called to give, then give.  If he misuses that, it is not on our head, but his.

Feel free to fix anything I missed or add anything else you thought of.

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