The Great Samaritan
In Luke 10.25-37 Jesus tells a fantastic story; a story He is going into and out of Jerusalem to live; one that compels us to do the same.
Seeing our helpless state, Jesus walks the rugged road of the Good Samaritan from Jerusalem to the cross, not only bandaging our wounds but taking them upon Himself. He comes to our rescue like the Good Samaritan by being stripped and beaten like the man left for dead. He is the Great Samaritan. No one deserves His mercy. Pious priests remind us we are not worthy of it. Unwilling Levites refuse the great risk and cost of it. Mercy is unwarranted and extravagant.
We’re not half dead, we’re all dead. Completely dead. Self-centered sinners satisfying our sinful desires, constrained to the me-elevating pattern of this world, following Satan himself. Every one of us dead. Legalists enslaving God to repay us for our efforts or rebels scorning Him with our lusts. Dead. Where would you be had He not seen you, had compassion on you, rescued you?
I would be stuck in sexual sin, always thirsty, never satisfied. I would be consumed by ambition, ruining myself to attain the “next phase” of things, always out of reach around the coming corner. I would be alone in my pride, destroying relationships by withholding forgiveness and presenting confidence to preserve self-justification. I would be angry, abusive, unrepentant. A lump of lifeless beaten flesh, alone on the side of a road. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved (Eph2.4-5). Where would you be?
The great equalizer is God’s mercy of towards us, wretched sinners. It’s a paradigm changer. “Who is my neighbor?” is a question of exclusion, not embrace. It’s a question of external filtering, not internal disposition. It creates boundaries, not boundless love. We judge before extending mercy. But, that’s no longer the question. Jesus’ compassion churned inside of his bowels as He hung on that cross in your place. We can’t ask that question any more, His mercy on us won’t allow it. “Who proved to be a neighbor to this man?” Jesus, asks, beckoning us to decide, “Will I be a neighbor?” This is the new question. Will I see, know, and love people while extending unwarranted, extravagant grace? His provision is the foundation of His command, “You go and do likewise.”
The generic man, beaten and lifeless, is stripped of his cultural markers. No cloths to reveal his status; he might not be able to repay you. No dialect to reveal his ethnicity; he might not run in your crowd. We are left only with a decision, to love like we have been loved. To see and approach those near to us, those unlike and far from us, even our enemies. Mercy triumphs over judgment. Therefore, “Go and do likewise.”
“Likewise,” begins by soaking in how He has done this for you. How, particularly, has He poured His mercy on you? From what has He saved you? Where would you be without Him? “Go,” demands movement towards those in need. If you do not have opportunity for mercy, you do not truly know anyone. Everyone has a story. Break the bubbles of acceptability, moving towards the unlovable. He may be a family member, she may be a co-worker, or a different color, in a different social strata, an enemy. Listen to her story, hear his need. Opportunities for mercy abound; people are getting beaten out there. If you choose to remain in your bubble, surrounded by those like yourself, then you live contrary to the mercy of Jesus who has approached you. “Do,” means, well, figure it out! Do something. Tangibly love. Give something, pay for something, provide something! We “do” mercy. So figure it out. Demonstrate the mercy of God while declaring the good news of our Merciful Savoir.