To a first-century Jew, there was no such thing as a “good” Samaritan! Of course they were all liars and thieves who also worshiped the wrong god, or at least the wrong way! But Jesus had a different opinion. He spent far too much time with Samaritans (just read about the woman at the well in John 4). And then He even told a story (Luke 10) that has since been dubbed the “Good Samaritan.”
Who is my neighbor? The lawyer asked, ready to combat the answer. When loving a neighbor as yourself, you had to be careful to define your terms. This lawyer was probably from the Pharisee class, highly educated, and superior to many fellow Jews, and certainly foreigners (Faithlife Study Bible).
You know the road to Jericho? Jesus asked. A downhill slope from Jerusalem. A man was walking down there, and got mugged. Really beat up, hardly recognizable, bloody and tossed like a sack of bones to bake in the sun. Well a priest was coming from the temple, done with his duties. But of course, one robbery deserves another, the men were probably camped nearby, so he made sure to hurry along his way. It was the same way with a lesser servant of the temple. How many hours passed? But then who should come by, but a Samaritan. Of all people. But people are people, and he saw a person on the side of the road. And he had compassion.
Compassion enough to step over and use his supplies to take care of his wounds. Compassion to walk on the hot road while the man road his animal. Compassion to stop at an inn and spend the whole night caring for him instead of going home. Compassion to stop his plans and help the person in front of him, then make sure he would be okay. He gave the innkeeper two denarii…enough for two months of care (Faithlife)!
Who was the neighbor? Jesus asked.
The one who was nice to him, the lawyer said, refusing to name the man, the enemy-friend.
You’re right, Jesus said with a smile. Now it’s your turn.
God, who is my Samaritan? How often do I avoid eye contact with certain people or scoff as we meet in the grocery store? Probably more frequently than I realize. God, how can it be true that each person is made in Your image? Distorted by sin, yes, but human. And You call that valuable enough to save by Your own death. And yet I pass by on the other side of the street, I’m afraid to say. And what would it look like to change? God, I want to change. I want to have authentic compassion that does not dismiss the problem or the person. Change my heart! And help me see what that looks like right where I am living. To You be the glory, because of Your love. Amen.