Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”.
In Luke 10, Jesus told a story about a man who was robbed, beaten and left half-dead. Sounds like an author’s autobiographical first novel to me. Wasn’t Jesus attacked, beaten, robbed, and left to die?
But I get ahead of myself. When a lawyer asked Jesus how he could inherit eternal life, Jesus said, “You’re a lawyer. What does the law say?”
The lawyer replied, “It says I should love God with all my heart, soul, strength and mind, and that I should love my neighbour as myself.”
Jesus said, “Exactly right. Just do it.”
Still not satisfied, the lawyer said, “OK. But who is my neighbour?”
What a perfect opportunity for Jesus to explain the text more precisely, to provide a working definition of the word “neighbor” and to clarify exactly what the Bible meant. But Jesus blew it. Instead of doing a word study on “neighbor”, he told an obscure story about a serious mugging.
In the story, robbers attacked, beat, and left a traveller half dead. Two religious leaders saw the man and carefully stepped around him.
Then a Samaritan, from a nation typically unfriendly to Jews, came by. He bandaged the man’s wounds, loaded him on his donkey, deposited him at an inn, and gave the innkeeper instructions and money to care for the man.
Jesus asked the lawyer, “Which of the three was a neighbor to the man who was mugged?”
A more astute lawyer would have replied, “I can’t answer the question, because it makes assumptions I disagree with.” But the lawyer in Jesus’ story replied, “The neighbour was the one who demonstrated mercy.”
I make three observations about Jesus’ story:
1. Ask most modern preachers about the text “Love your neighbor”, and they’ll define the original Hebrew word using biblical, literary, and cultural context. But Jesus didn’t do that. He told a story that said rather pointedly, “You don’t need to study more. You just need to do it. ”
2. There’s another way to look at the parable, where we are the victim, religious leaders are heartless bystanders, and Jesus is the Good Samaritan who saves us. Jesus’ message to the lawyer becomes his message to us: Follow me by rescuing the poor, the wounded and the robbed.
3. Another reading of the parable observes that the most important man ever who was beaten, robbed, and left-for-dead is Jesus himself. Our duty is not to ignore him like the religious leaders did, but to let go of our pride and respectability and to throw in our lot with the dying Christ. In identifying with his suffering we are saved.
Jesus, you were beaten and robbed and crucified. We choose not to walk past your cross on the other side of the road, pretending we don’t know you, ignoring your hurt and humiliation. We choose not to hide the ugliness of your death behind pretty explanations and carefully worded theology. Instead, we kneel at the cross, letting your pain wash over us and through us, receiving the gifts you give us there.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.