The story of the Good Samaritan is one of the most well-known stories in the New Testament. This parable showcases Jesus’ response to a lawyer. First, he asked Jesus what must he do to inherit the Kingdom of God. Jesus answered the original question by explaining to him that he must first love God with all his heart, and love his neighbor as himself.
The man then raised a second question. Trying to justify himself and wiggle out of his predicament, he used an old debating tactic: “Define your terms, Jesus! What do you mean by ‘neighbor’? Who is my neighbor?” It was this second question that prompted Jesus to share the parable of the Good Samaritan.
You know the story. A man is on his way down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he is accosted and assaulted by a band of thieves who beat him within inches of his life. He’s left bleeding by the side of the road.
He is too dead to be alive, and yet too alive to be dead.
Now, typically, the primary focus of our passage is on the treatment that is provided to this injured Jew by a good Samaritan; however, what arrests my attention in this story is not so much the treatment of the Samaritan, but the state of our injured traveler. The text tells us that he was left for dead. He was relieved of all his money, his merchandise, his undergarments, his sandals, his dignity, his pride, and almost every vestige of his humanity.
Whether by personal experience, secondhand accounts, eyewitness testimony, television programs, news reports, movies, or videos, all of us can conceptualize with almost pristine accuracy some violent act perpetrated by one person against another.
So, identifying with our fallen comrade is not very difficult, especially when we consider that some of the worse things that happened in our lives share points of commonality with this victim. I’d like to suggest at least three points of identification that we share with the victim in our text.
The first of these is that what happened to the man on the way to Jericho was something beyond his control. The road he was travelling was a road leading down from Jerusalem to Jericho. This was 21 miles. While this was not the only way, it was the most direct. It was a rugged, rocky pass, well adapted for the purposes of thieves and desperadoes, and that being well known garnered it the name, “The Way of Blood.”
If you live long enough, you will discover that there will be times when stuff happens that is beyond your control.
The second point of identification is that this man was overwhelmed by external forces. This was a well-planned, calculated, and coordinated attack. These were not petty thieves, but men of violence, as was shown by their treatment of the traveler.
In the words of Paul found in 2 Corinthians 4:8, this man was troubled on every side… There is a power, a satanic power that seeks to steal, kill, and destroy.
The final reason we can identify with him was that he was disappointed, and his expectations were not met.
This man is not only left for dead physically, but emotionally overlooked.
He becomes the cosmological representative of fallen humanity. If the truth be told today, not only do we sympathize with the fallen Jew, we are the fallen Jew. He is us and we are him.
The passage talks about the Good Samaritan. This Good Samaritan went the extra mile to help a stranger. “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law,” Galatians 4:4, 5.
“[Jesus] was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His stripes healed,” Isaiah 53:5.
JESUS IS THE GOOD SAMARITAN
The Bible says that Jesus came down from His heavenly throne, took off the robe of His divinity, and covered our nakedness with His grace.
Jesus bandaged our wounds, forgave our sins, and gave us life.
Jesus did more than the Samaritan in our story. He was the one Who took the punishment for US.
I’m glad that while Jesus was left for dead, He didn’t stay dead. He got up!!!
Southern Union | October 2017