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The Good Samaritan

Whether you first learned it from VeggieTales or the Bible itself, the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37 is one of the most well-known parables that Jesus told. Here it is below:

In reply Jesus said: “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.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

I often find it easy to read this story and scoff at the priest and the Levite who did not help the man. It can be hard to imagine blatantly refusing to assist someone in their time of need. The message of the parable almost seems too simple and obvious as if it is something we would never miss today. But have you ever thought about loving your neighbor from an eternal perspective? Think about it. How many people do you pass daily who have been attacked, beaten, and robbed by the brokenness of sin? How many people do you encounter who are currently separated from God with no hope? They are spiritually lost and left for dead, but no one is looking for them. Do they hear the gospel from you, or do you turn a blind eye to pass by on the other side?

We like to think we would always be the Samaritan in the story. When it comes to spiritual need, however, we often play the role of the priest or the Levite. A priest and a Levite each would have probably had a positive reputation. They may have even had great zeal for God. They both carried out significant duties in the temple, but they were the ones to ignore the man in need. Perhaps they were concerned about their reputations. Perhaps they thought their priestly duties exempted them since they were already serving God in significant ways. Perhaps they were too busy.

Does this sound like you? Many of us have a strong zeal for the Lord and a positive reputation within the church. We serve in various ministries, tithe faithfully, and lead Bible study groups. But when we walk down the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, we look away from the countless souls screaming for hope. The beat-up state of a lost person’s soul often hides behind a smiling face, so we frequently choose to ignore it. Maybe we don’t want to deal with the reality of lostness. Maybe we are concerned about our reputations. Maybe we think our service in the church exempts us from seeking the lost, or maybe we are simply too busy.

At best, we give people a “Jesus loves you” or we wish them well. Imagine doing that for the guy half dead on the side of the road as you pass by on the other side. Look at how the Samaritan cared for the man: he bandaged his wounds, took him to an inn, paid for his expenses, and committed to coming back for him. He sacrificed so much so that the man would be restored to good health. What do you need to sacrifice so that those around you would be restored to God? Instead of passing by, love your neighbor enough to tell them about Jesus!

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