Jesus said, “What do you think? Which one of these three was neighbor to the man who encountered thieves?” Then the legal expert said, “The one who demonstrated mercy.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:36-37 (CEB)
This Sunday’s reading (July 10, 2016) is Luke 10:25-37 and contains the parable of the Good Samaritan. Many of us have heard this parable for years, and I suspect it has been preached on, quoted, misquoted, used and abused for centuries. There are so many thoughts in it, but perhaps the simplest approach is to take Jesus instruction at the end of the passage, “Go and do likewise.”
At the beginning, we find a legal expert – someone who knows Jewish law VERY well – standing up to test Jesus. So often the religious leaders and interpreters of the Torah or the laws tried to find ways to trap Jesus into contradicting a teaching. Yet, he was never trapped, but, in his usual way, he began asking them questions. They quickly revealed their ignorance of the deeper meaning of the law.
Their laws, although inspired by God and many were for the good of the people, were still written and upheld by human beings, and Jesus point of reference was God. His questions always referred to “what would God want in this situation?” So often the laws were kept in unreasonable and might even ignore human needs.
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus made the point that it was a lowly Samaritan who had shown mercy rather than a priest or a Levite. Both of those two men by-passed the man, maybe because they would have been considered unclean if they had touched him. Compassion and mercy were avoided when they made their position and worries about themselves more important than the needs of someone who had been hurt.
God’s call in our lives is to show care, concern, and compassion to others regardless of their position, ethnicity, legal status, culture, or whatever the circumstances might be. Human beings are human beings, and they are all part of the human family. That is not only the call from Jesus, but also the challenge to all of us. Micah 6:8 tells us what God expects: “. . . what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (NRSV) Let us go and do likewise!
Where have you walked past or ignored human need?
How have you ministered to someone?
In what ways can we follow Jesus teachings more faithfully?