The Good Samaritan - With a Twist
Picture: Thousands and thousands of caskets on the outskirts of Jerusalem
We have probably all heard either the story or the saying “The Good Samaritan”.
It is a Biblical story found in the gospel of Luke 10:25-37 that Jesus told after being asked “who is my neighbor”?
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
Jesus then asked, “Which of these three was the neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”
The obvious answer is the Samaritan, but what most of us do not realize is that Jews and Samaritans were sworn enemies. The man’s enemy, the people group he hated and was hated by, for it was a mutual hate; his enemy was the only one who cared enough to stop and help. The hurt man’s fellow Jew’s and priests crossed over to the other side of the road, away from the hurt man.
I think that many of us have tried to live up to the expectation that Jesus gave, be the good neighbor to “everyone” and that is as deep as the story goes.
One of the most challenging sermons I ever heard was on this story. Jonathan Heppner, a Missionary family that my home church sponsors was here in November 2017 and preached on this. What he said, rocked my world.
He stated that many of us in the church and out of the church are actually the man left for dead on the side of the road. He said we have no life, we fake it, we have wounds we cannot recover from, we do not want to be real or connect with others. We look good on the outside but on the inside, we are full of dead man’s bones.
Then…. If that was not enough, he challenged us with: “What if the person you despise, you hate the most, is the one who can bring you back to life?”
Oh boy, there is a thought!
Jonathan said, “Who do you hate? If you say no one, you are full of crap (his words not mine). To discover who it is, go backwards from the fruit – follow it down to the root and seed. The fruit of hate is murder, slander, pride, avoidance, rejection, distrust, namelessness – you will not even say their name, prejudice, lying” and more.
We ALL have or had a problem with someone, or perhaps something (like Covid), what if that is the one person or thing who can bring you back to life?”
You see Jesus’ story was much deeper than one man looking after another. It is the story of a man who helped another man live, he gave him his life back.
What does it mean to live? Perhaps to live means to have purpose and meaning; something to get up for in the morning.
Why might the one person/thing that you hate be the one who brings you back to life? Because God does not ever do things the easy or normal way. Trust me, He will use a method you would never suspect.
Your enemies, those things and people you do not like, are strategically placed in your life who will shape and mold you into the person God wants you to be. Even if God did not place them there, He will still use them to refine and shape you. Will you let Him, or will you live a life of self-pity, lamenting over what you have to go through, laying wounded on the side of the road?
Moses, the Great Man of the Bible, killed an Egyptian who was abusing a Hebrew slave, first the Egyptians turned on him and then the Hebrews (his own people) turned on him. He got scared and ran away for 40 years, hiding out. God sent him back to Egypt as God’s messenger – back to the ones who hated him. God used him mightily to set the Hebrews/Israelites free and take them out of Egypt.
Jonah was told, by God, to go to Nineveh, sworn enemies of the Jewish nations, they hated each other, but instead he got scared and ran away and got swallowed by a whale. After being turned into vomit, he went to Nineveh, to his enemies to warn them to repent or be cursed by God. He was used to save 120,000 people, people who were his enemies.
David the shepherd boy, would never have become the hero and eventually the king without the giant Goliath. Goliath the enemy, stirred up David to the point where a rock and a sling took out a seasoned warrior.
God can use the people and situations which stress and strain us to help us become the person God wants us to be.
Enemies can stir you up, keep you motivated to succeed. We do not want our enemies to gloat over us so we try harder, we pray more often.
Enemies can show us who we would be apart from the grace of God. Yes, we could have been them, and in the other camp or they could have been us or vice versa.
Enemies want to control you, exercise their power over you, will you let them?
Enemies can be people or even things. The Corona Virus is an enemy. You can let this thing pull you under in fear or you can live, perhaps in a modified way but you can live, make your own way in this new season. Do not stop living, embrace the change – do it different!
I have seen too many people succumb to fear or depression with this virus – that is what enemies want. Fear means lack of power, depression is lack of motivation and both mean paralysis and being stuck and they both take your power away.
Back to Johnathan’s sermon: What does it mean to be faking it? Not connecting? Not real?
It means that we dawdle along with the flock, following each other, faking that all is okay or that we are “okay”, saying that we are fine, when we surely are NOT. Hiding in plain sight, stuck, no voice, no one to care, believing no one would. After all, no one else is doing it differently so why should I? What would make you do it differently? What would get you out of the flock, off to explore new grass?
Do it, be different, thinking differently, be awake and be alive!
So I ask again: What if your enemy, the one you hate or the thing you hate, is the thing that will bring you back to life? The one who gets under your skin, makes your blood boil, ignites you to want change, to fight back, to find your voice and be heard. It means that you have a reason to get out of bed in the morning and live!
Well, welcome back my friend – you are back in the land of the living!
Remember to thank God for sending and using those people or things that you do not like to bring you back to life.