The Good Samaritan
Scripture: Luke 10:25-37
The parable I have chosen today is probably one of the most well-known stories in the Bible. For many Christians it has become a favourite, almost comfortable story because it is timeless in its meaning and challenge. But to the original hearers it was almost certainly blasphemous, and truly shocking, because the hero of the story is a Samaritan – usually rejected as the low life of society.
It is a parable about love – loving your neighbour – very pertinent in today’s climate when so many are in need and crying out for help. So what does it mean to love our neighbours? If you asked most people to answer this question they would most probably say they are the people living next door or in their street. But loving our neighbour is much wider than this – neighbours are everyone we come into contact with and this is the point Jesus is trying to put across, we should be prepared to help anyone.
Sometimes it helps to put a parable into modern day context to fully understand its meaning, so here goes:
One Friday evening James was cycling along a quiet country road when a car drove past him at top speed, knocking him off his bike and making him land in a muddy ditch. As he lay there unconscious, the motorist, knowing that he had hit James but had no insurance, drove off so he wouldn’t be caught by the police.
It so happened that a Priest was driving along the same road a few minutes later. She saw James lying in the ditch but had a meeting with the Bishop, and you can’t ever be late for a meeting with the Bishop, so she drove on past, thinking someone else will come by and help him soon.
A few moments later a doctor was also driving on the same road. When he saw James lying there he thought he was just some ‘down and out’ and didn’t want to get involved ( after all someone else would be along in a minute, besides which he was tired after a long shift), so he too just drove past him.
And then another car appeared on the same road. It was driven by a refugee from Afghanistan. When he saw James lying at the side of the road he stopped his car and got out. He slowly helped James up, gently put him into his car and drove him to the nearest hospital. Afterwards he drove him to the nearest small hotel where he used what little money he had to pay for a room for him until he had recovered.
Of all the people who drove past that night it was the one with the least to offer, and probably the one most looked down upon by many others, who showed compassion and obeyed Jesus’ command to love his neighbour as himself.
I wonder how many times we have walked past people in need when the kindest word or gesture might have helped? The important point of this parable is that God loves all people, no matter what their religion, race or culture, and we are required to do the same – to help anyone where we can.
Today people need different kinds of help – practical, emotional and spiritual. Maybe someone needs help with getting their children to school because they are themselves shielding because of the Corona virus, could you help?
Do you know of someone who is depressed because they have just lost a loved one they loved very much, or have been given bad news regarding an illness – maybe you could knock on the door and have a socially distanced conversation with them or phone them to listen to them and comfort them?
There may be those who need spiritual help. At times like this its easy to question the existence of God or to ask where God is in all this suffering. Maybe you could be the one who is able to answer their questions and help them hear the good news that God loves us all and wants to give us His peace.
God calls each one of us to love our neighbour as ourselves. Our neighbour is anyone who we come across who needs our help. Ask yourself today – Are you willing to stop what you are doing, seek them out and help them?