Pastor's Pondering


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Do What the Good Samaritan Did

by Duane Mabee on October 13, 2022

Luke 10 tells of an encounter between Jesus and a religious man.  The guy tried to put Jesus on the spot asking, “What do I need to do to get to heaven?”  Jesus turned the question back on him, after all, he was supposed to be highly knowledgeable about God’s laws.  “What does the Bible say?” Jesus asked.  


“Any Sunday school kid can answer that,” the religious man thought.  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself,” he replied, proud of his response.  He wasn’t ready for what happened next.  “You are absolutely right,” Jesus said, “go do that, and you will get to heaven.” 


Do that?  No one had ever challenged him to actually do something about it before.  It was just a good religious thing to say.  The implications of having to actually do something to love his neighbors unnerved him.  Trying to get off the hook, he ask, “Exactly who am I supposed to love?  Who is my neighbor?”  It was a shrewd philosophical ploy.  If you can’t pinpoint who your neighbor is, or you can narrow the definition, you can avoid having to do anything specific.  In response, Jesus told a story that made the man wish he hadn’t initiated this debate in the first place. 


We know the story of the good Samaritan, but we might not really get its implications.  Like the religious guy above, we may have never been challenged to actually do what the story tells us we should do. 


The key features of the story are that the hero is a hated foreigner the Jews looked down on in every way.  They would never venture into his neighborhood, especially at night.  Based on where he came from, they would never have attributed any positive qualities to him.  He would have been the brunt of their jokes and the object of their scorn.  In Jesus’ story, however, he showed compassion and mercy to an injured Jewish man.  He also went way above and beyond expectations in taking care of him and meeting his needs. 


At the end of the story, Jesus told the religious man, “You go act like the hated foreigner in the story.  Do it for people you hate.  Do it for people you’re afraid of.”