For those of us who grew up reading the Bible, it’s easy to forget how surprising, how challenging, how counterintuitive Christ’s teachings must have been when He first shared them.
Consider the good Samaritan story in Luke 10. Have you stopped to ponder the stunningly convicting point Christ makes in this passage?
“Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.’” Luke 10:30-32
In first century Israel, the Jews held priests and Levites in extraordinarily high esteem. They considered them the religious elite, the respected authorities, the preachers of God’s Word.
But according to Jesus, the authoritative priests and Levites are the villains of the story, because they showed no mercy.
Who did show compassion?
“A Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’” Luke 10:33-35
A lowly Samaritan generously did the right thing.
What a plot twist! To most Jews, Samaritans were intolerable, impure, racially inferior, to be avoided at all costs (John 4:9). Certainly not “the good guys”.
Can you imagine the astonished thoughts that raced through the disciples’ minds as Jesus shared this story? That wasn’t how the story was supposed to go! In fact, right before Jesus told this parable, an entire Samaritan village had rejected Him (Luke 9:51-56). Imagine the contempt and disdain the followers of Christ must have felt toward the Samaritans — and how shockingly unexpected and convicting this story from Jesus would have been.
Here then, we must ask ourselves: who are our Samaritans? Who most frustrates, angers, or disgusts you? Who have you mentally labelled as different, gross, or hopeless? Who do you struggle the most to love, to feel compassion for, to see without smug condescension?
As I honestly assess my own heart, I realise there are entire people groups I label as “other”. People of different generations, different personalities, different viewpoints. And yet, Jesus concluded the parable by asking:
“‘Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘You go, and do likewise.’” Luke 10:36-37
You go, and do likewise.
Imitate the Samaritan.
The truth is, to be human is to be broken. We are all inferior in innumerable ways. We are all sinful neighbors to each other.
So care for others, even when they’re different than you.
Show a small measure of the mercy Christ has shown you.
Love your neighbour, even when that goes against your natural tendencies.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
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