DayBreaks for 6/14/16 – The REAL Lesson of the Good Samaritan
Chances are that you know the story Jesus told about the Good Samaritan. It’s so well known that the term “good Samaritan” has found a place in our culture to describe anyone who does a good turn for someone in need who can’t possibly repay them for their kindness.
I don’t know about you, but for all my life I have read, heard and studied the story and I think I’ve missed the real point of the story every time. On Sunday, for the first time, I got a fresh new insight into this incredible story.
When I hear the story, I think about the priest and the Levite who passed by, I always try to figure out who I am in the story. And that means I’ve gotten it all wrong.
The road to Jericho, along which the story takes place, was known as “the path of blood” because it was so notorious as a dangerous, deadly route. And so it was that the victim ill-advisedly travelled this road and paid a price for it – nearly being killed.
The priest, who presumably had been to Jerusalem to be “cleansed”, was on his way to Jericho. If he had stopped to help the victim, he would have become unclean and would not have been able to conduct his services in Jericho. To the Jews, it made sense that this priest passed by the beaten man.
The Levite was more like a priest-in-training. He was not bound by the rule of cleanliness and would have been expected to stop to help the bloodied victim. But he didn’t.
And then comes the Samaritan. Samaritans were deeply hated by the Jews, half-breeds between Jews and pagans. Moved with compassion, he lifts up the beaten man, tends to his wounds, takes him to a place where he could be cared for, pays, and even offers to pay whatever else the landlord deemed fit. He was giving the landlord a “blank check” that he could cash at the Samaritan’s expense.
When I have considered this story in the past, I usually beat myself up as I try to figure out if I am the priest, or the Levite, or whether I ever act like the Samaritan. There is truth that I sometimes do something kind for others, but more often than not, I fail to act like the Samaritan and am more like one of the other two characters. But that’s not the point at all.
I believe that every parable is intended to teach us something about God/Jesus, and this is no exception. Who am I in this story? Who are you? We are not the priest nor Levite nor Good Samaritan. We are the one who has done something foolish and we are beaten and bloodied and dying. We are desperately in need of someone who will come to our rescue, who will pay the price on our behalf both now and for whatever debt we may rack up before He comes back again. You see, it is Jesus who is the Good Samaritan. He has paid for my care and if there’s more to pay (which there isn’t…because he’s promised to pay for it all), he will see to it that all that I need has been taken care of!
PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for opening my eyes to the greater story in this parable. My heart sings in gratitude that you stooped to pick me up, bandaged my wounds, stopped my bleeding and that you will even come back for me to make sure all my “bill” has been paid! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.