” Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What do you read there?’ He answered, ‘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.
And he said to him, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’
But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise. ‘” Luke 10:29-37
Recently we were studying this familiar parable in Sunday School. A few weeks later, a guest pastor who preached at our church used the same text. When this happens, I feel God is telling me to pay attention! Pastor Del Palmer, retiring director of our denomination’s World Missions Department had some new insights to give–at least they were new to me.
First of all, since we realize that we are called to help our neighbor, and according to Jesus, everyone we meet is our neighbor, Pastor Palmer asked, “how is that working out for you?” I know that I fall down day after day — even with the best intentions in the world, I fail in my duty to minister to my neighbors. How many people do I pass by, some purposefully, others without even recognizing their need? If this is the way to achieve eternal life, I can’t do it, and neither can anyone else.
Secondly, think of the parable this way. Each one of us is that man left for dead on the side of the road. We are helpless to save ourselves. We need a savior, and that would be Jesus. He is the Good Samaritan, who tenderly rescues us, binds up our wounds and sees that we are protected and healed.
What do you think, readers? Do these ideas give you a fresh understanding of an old story? I’d love to hear your thoughts.