Lent 3 – The Good Samaritan
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Hi <<First Name>>,

Last week we looked at Jesus’ mission statement in Luke 4:16-19. This week we look at a well-known story about the Good Samaritan. Stories are powerful because they pull us into a different world and make us look at ourselves and others from different angles and perspectives. This story is no different in its ability to challenge and shape the way we think about ourselves and others.

Luke 10:25-37
Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “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 neighbour as yourself.”

And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance, a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

But a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’

Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

This story is fascinating and we could focus on some many different angles like the violence of the robbers or the lack of compassion and concern in the religious leaders. But I’d like to focus on the actions of the Samaritan because Jesus is using him as a positive example for those who follow Him to emulate (10:37).

Moved with compassion
, he put his faith into action and helped one who was in dire need. The French scholar François Bovon writes that “The vulnerable body of the one awakened the attentive heart of the other.” It’s important to note that the identity of the victim in this story is completely unknown. Was he a good man? A bad man? A Jew or a Gentile? We just don’t know. And that’s part of the point. It’s irrelevant who this person is. It’s about how he should be treated. The lawyer is asking a question about the identity of our neighbours and Jesus reframes that question with the response that our neighbour is anyone who is in need. This is a human being, created and loved by God and that’s enough to justify treating him with compassion and mercy and helping him to restoration.

The Samaritan uses his own time, resources and finances to offer help to this person. We don’t know if this person was in a position to pay the Samaritan back or what use the man would be to the Samaritan once restored, but again, that’s not the point.

The point is that despite not knowing anything specific about this person, the Samaritan does the right thing and offers essential aid and help. This is where the story loops back to the original question about eternal life. Inheriting eternal life is all about loving God with every facet of our being and then allowing that love to transform us from the inside out until we’re willing to love others the way Jesus does, and the way the Samaritan did.

Merciful God, your compassion and kindness to all is relentless. Thank you for your example of laying down your life to benefit and bless those who could never repay you for your healing and restoration. Help us to see people the way you see them and to care for them the way you care for them. Aid us in thinking carefully and wisely about how we may be involved in bringing help, healing and hope to those who need it.

It’s in response to stories like this that we are motivated by Jesus, to encourage Kiwis to act for justice to relieve poverty, among the world’s most vulnerable people. The question now is, what does your “Go and do likewise” look like?
Next week we’ll look at Jesus’ prompting to take action in “do unto others…”

Until then,

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