“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, 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, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.Luke 10:30-33
How many times have you read or heard the story of the Good Samaritan? Which character do you identify most closely? The man who was left half-dead? The priest? The active church member? The man who was compassionate?
As I read through these verses that set the scene for Jesus’ illustration, I noticed that the priest, the Levite, and the Samaritan had one thing in common. Each of them “saw” the injured man, but there is a difference in how they responded to the situation, isn’t there?
Two men saw but looked the other way. They passed by on the other side, keeping their distance.
Then, Jesus does the unexpected. He introduces an unpopular character, but when the Samaritan saw the injured Jewish man, he didn’t hurry to the other side of the road. Instead, we read that when he “saw him, he had compassion.”
The Priest and the Levite knew the importance of loving others, but it appears that it was only a theory at least on this occasion. But shouldn’t our theology bring us to act on behalf of others?
The Priest and Levite had responsibilities and were likely busy, but Jesus doesn’t leave any room for excuses. Their problem wasn’t with their beliefs, it was with their lack of response. It reminded me of James’ words in his letter:
“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17).
I want to identify with the Samaritan, don’t you? But, am I leaving enough margin in my life, or am I too busy to be bothered by anything unplanned and not on my schedule? I’m not sure I like the answer.