Jesus replied with a story: "A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. "By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. "Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, "Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I'll pay you the next time I'm here.' - Luke 10: 30-35 (NLT)
The story of the good Samaritan. Rich with the lessons and teachings of God for us today as followers of Jesus Christ. Before examining what God is saying to us today through this parable, let us look at the background of how Jesus gets to the point of relating it. One day Jesus is approached by an expert in religious law, who asked Him what he had to do to inherit eternal life. This expert represents the religious spirit we see in the modern day churches. They are looking to justify themselves and their religious superiority. Scripture explains clearly that this question was not genuinely motivated but rather was an attempt to test Jesus. The Lord responds by asking him what he understands is required and the man correctly answers that he is to love the Lord with all of his heart, soul, strength and mind and his neighbor as himself. Not satisfied, the expert then presses the issue by asking who counts as his "neighbor." That brings us to the key verses; the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
One of the primary lessons I see running through this story is the spirit of religion versus the spirit of God in relation to the lost. Too often we can become good at doing church but lose sight of the true Spirit of God. We become a social club for saints instead of an emergency room for the unsaved. Scripture tells us that the expert was seeking to "justify his actions." That is what religion does. It seeks to build itself and not the kingdom. It seeks to laud itself and not God. This is not why Jesus went to the cross. He died to take our place and the place of the other people we see every day on the outside of salvation looking in. When God reached down into the pit our lives were in it was all about us. Once we were placed upon the Rock however, it no longer is. It is about those people we see lying on the side of the road every day. Our lost family members. Our lost co-workers. Our lost friends. They are lying on the side of the road between Jerusalem and Jericho. They are waiting for someone to stop.
That is the first lesson we see. Jesus starts the parable by saying that a man was walking along the road between Jerusalem and Jericho. This was a known road of danger. People were routinely attacked, mugged and often killed. So why was this man choosing to walk the road that everyone knew was fraught with danger? Why do people every day reject the Lord to walk in this world despite the obvious and known dangers? That is what this road represents. It represents this dangerous and unforgiving world. There are bandits in the world beloved who seek to harm us every day we are apart from Christ. Some find themselves beaten and bloodied by drugs and alcohol. Others by anxiety and depression. Some by loneliness and disappointment.
It is important to see what the world does to us before we come to Christ. First, the parable explains that the man was stripped of his clothes. The world humiliates us beloved. It strips us of our dignity and leaves us ashamed for the sin that separates us from our God. I have dealt with many people who essentially do not come to Christ because they do not feel worthy. None of us were worthy! You cannot wait until you become the perfect Christian before becoming a Christian. Secondly, the bandits of the world beat the man up. Isn't that how we felt the day we finally gave up our lives to the Lord? Beaten up. I remember practically crawling up to the altar to surrender. The world is relentless in its attacks upon us. It does not show any mercy. It leaves us beaten down. Thirdly however, it leaves us half dead - cast aside on the road. These bandits in the story essentially left this man for dead. Unless someone came along who would tend to him - he would certainly die. That is how the world operates with us before Christ as well. The world will humiliate us and beat us down. When it has us completely bound it will cast us aside on the road and leave us to die. But God.
He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. - Psalm 147: 3 (NLT)
Continuing in the parable, Jesus explains that "by chance" a priest came along. Before we explore the priest, i want to pause and notice the usage of the phrase, "by chance." Beloved, I believe that God leads us to people lying on the side of the road every day by chance. We do not see them because they are not as obvious as this man, lying in a pool of his own blood. But realize today that most people are bleeding internally from the abuses of this world and more importantly, they are heading towards an eternal separation from God unless someone stops and tends to them. Evangelism and witnessing are two different things. Not everyone is called to be an evangelist but we are all called to witness.
So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don't be ashamed of me, either, even though I'm in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News. - 2Timothy 1: 8 (NLT)