25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” 27 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.” 28 And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” 29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 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. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34 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. 35 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.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
I think the moral of this interaction with Jesus should be “never try and test Jesus, He’ll give you a royal smack-down of challenging truth.”
Such a great parable of Jesus, with everyday application and implication.
A man who gets attacked and robbed finds himself in sudden, unforseen, and desperate need. And the Samaritan man – unlike the other two smugly sanitised and aloof religious figures – gets alongside him straight away to help him. On his way doing what was probably a normal travel route, he discovers someone in sudden, unforseen, and desperate need, and he moves straight into action to help.
This is love for ones neighbour. Costly, inconvenient, but wonderfully dignifying.
It is a tragic state of affairs when human beings intentionally avoid the desperate need that is right in front of them. But truth be told, I find myself, without the right kind of heart focus, quickly spiralling into an intentionally avoidant lifestyle.
Here, Jesus calls me to a life of love that dignifies. Love that costs, for certain. But love that dignifies, and heals. This is the right kind of heart focus for my day to day life.
As I go about my normal daily business, as the Samaritan man was, Jesus teaches me to keep my eyes out for opportunity to love my desperate neighbour in such a way that restores their dignity, and brings them healing.
I may not find a bloodied robbery victim. But I may find a desperate divorced mum. I may find a stretched and stressed work colleague. I may find a hurting and confused teenager. Maybe my “bandages, oil and wine” are instead a coffee, a listening ear, an offer of heartfelt and ongoing prayer and presence.
This is still love that dignifies the desperate. That heals the hapless. God, help me live each day with this as my heart focus.
Written by Ps. Rob Waugh