In Luke 10:25 a lawyer stands up before a gathered crowd and asks Jesus, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus answers (I’m paraphrasing here), “You’re the expert; you tell me.”
The lawyer proceeds to quote the written Law: “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 neighbor as yourself.”
To which Jesus responds (paraphrasing again), “Duh…now go do it.”
But the lawyer won’t give up and instead asks Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Jesus responds by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan and ends the story by asking, “Which of these three (men), do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”
Feeling sheepish the lawyer replies, “The one who showed him mercy.”
Jesus closes with, “You go, and do likewise.”
For most of my life I assumed the moral of the story was to love my “neighbors” with mercy regardless of their socio-economic status. I’ve read this story many times before and never arrived at any other conclusion. But maybe that’s because I’m reading the story from the perspective of the Good Samaritan.
Everyone wants to be the Good Samaritan, of course. We want to be the hero who saves the day and inherits eternal life. We don’t want to be the priest, the Levite or the robbers, and we certainly don’t want to be the wounded man.
But isn’t that who we are?
Haven’t we all been mortally wounded through the power of Sin? Is it possible that Jesus told this story not only to explain how to love our neighbors, but also to explain how God, by sending His Son, is in the process of loving us?
Without the unmerited favor of God through Jesus Christ humanity will die. Isn’t that what the parable of the Good Samaritan is all about?
The life of the man who fell among robbers was saved by a man he didn’t know, who didn’t owe him, and whom he could never pay back. Does that story sound at all familiar to you? Through this parable I believe Jesus is telling us we should love our neighbor as ourselves not because the written Law says so, but because God loved us that way first.
We are the wounded man; Jesus Christ is the Good Samaritan.
Go to Luke 10:25 now and read the story through this lens. How does your heart respond?