Luke 10:36: “Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was Neighbour towards him that fell among the thieves?”
In answering a question about the conditions for inheriting eternal life, Jesus illustrated with the parable of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:30-37. In doing so, He profoundly demonstrated the true essence of religion. It is instructive that the first two people to see the victim of robbery, were religious leaders: a Priest and a Levite. Each of them took one look at the injured man, crossed over to the other side of the road, and went their way, leaving the distressed man to his fate. Supposedly godly men, called to minister life to the lost and hurting, failing to respond to a godly need when most opportuned.
The third person to come along, was a Samaritan, the least expected source of help, for there was no love lost, between the Jew and the gentile. Yet, he had what the religious men lacked-a kind and merciful heart. Moved by compassion, he stopped, and responded to the urgent need of the helpless dying man. Religion failed, but humanity succeeded.
Jesus rounded up his homily, by admonishing His audience: ‘Behave like the Good Samaritan, and not like the Priest and Levite.’ That was a telling message for every believer of every generation.
What are the lessons in the parable for you and I?
1. God is keenly interested in how we RESPOND to the needs around us. Our religious paraphernalia, titles and positions, reputations are meaningless to Him, if we do not genuinely care and positively RESPOND to the needy, helpless and vulnerable. While we must be kind and merciful always, God expects us particularly at a time of crisis, to RESPOND to the more urgent needs of others, through acts of love and compassion, rather than finding excuses to look the other way. This is the time that our light must so shine, that through our good works, men will glorify God, Mathew 5:16.
2. The size of our congregations, the aesthetics of our church auditoriums, the powerful sermons, vibrant evangelism crusades, regular prayer programs and dynamic praise and worship, good and necessary as they are, will score little or no marks with God, unless complimented by RESPONSIVE hearts of mercy and compassion to the needy. The Good Samaritan went out of his way to RESPOND to the need of the injured man. That’s God’s expectation of us.
3. Our ‘neighbour’ is not limited to the person who lives next door, sits on the next seat in church, or works in the same office with us. Our ‘neighbour’ is anyone who crosses our path in life, including total strangers, in need of help, whose need we responded to positively.
4. We fail or pass the test of faith, each time we ignore to respond to somebody’s need that we are in a position to meet. What kind of a heart would make a believer, how much more, a Man of God, see a dying man, or someone in dire need, and ‘go the other way’?
5. The Priest and the Levite might have responded positively, if it had occurred in the vicinity of the church. But that wouldn’t show their true heart condition. It happened to a stranger on a lonely road. Nobody saw them, but God. So, the true state of their hearts was exposed. The true test of our faith may not be in church or our familiar environments, but faraway from the glare of those who know us. Will we pass or fail? 1 Corinthians 4:5 says God will bring into the open, the secret things of darkness.
6. When leaders are failing, you can maintain your sanity and do the right thing in the sight of God, even at your own level. The Priest and the Levite, are types of hypocritical church leaders, while the Good Samaritan is a type of the ordinary person who is focused on God, doing the right thing despite leadership shortcomings.
7. Your help may come from the most unexpected and unlikely sources, even as those you would have hoped on, may disappoint you. Never put your faith in men, but in God alone. If the dying man had a chance to choose who, of the three men, to help him, he would most probably have chosen the Priest or the Levite above the Samaritan, for obvious reasons.
In conclusion, it is evident from this parable, that there will indeed be surprises in heaven. Recall that what started it all, was the question from a Lawyer, asking for the pre-requisites for eternal life. The summary of the answer of Jesus was that eternity would depend largely, even if not entirely, on how we RESPOND to the needs that God brings our way. No wonder Jesus said, that the needy will always be among us, Mathew 26:11; John 12:8; their purpose being to continually test our faith, on our journey to eternity. May you and I pass the test, in Jesus name. Amen.
Good morning and do have a wonderful weekend.