“But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.” (Luke 10:33-34)
We were traveling on the road to Jericho and stopped our journey to listen to the truths bound up in the Parable of the Good Samaritan about “a man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho” (Luke 10:30). It was fitting that a lawyer was in our midst to lead our discussion and teach us from this story. After all, a lawyer wanting to justify himself had originally asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus responded with this very parable.
In this area known for being the valley of the shadow of death, we read this familiar and yet misunderstood parable. Together as a group we listed insights that jumped at us and realized again how much we still had to learn and apply to our lives.
Our group called out various thoughts: God is compassionate, and we are to imitate him and do likewise. The Samaritan went the extra mile without being asked. Mercy comes with a cost and is not usually required when it’s a convenient time for us. We need to pay attention to other people for they have needs, too. We must not be blind, or selfish. Be ready for God to interrupt our day with his own plans. Leave margin in our day for God to fill it with his purpose.
As we sat on wooden benches with the cool February wind blowing through the porch encircled by original mosaic tiles, our leader posed various questions: Am I just like the Levite passing by on the other side, indifferent and absorbed with my own cares? Am I the traveler who is in great need, bruised within, desperate for oil and wine for my healing? How far, exactly, is my love willing to go to meet another’s needs?
Do we recognize how far Jesus’ love went for us? He sees us, right where we are, in our broken and wounded places. Knowing we have no ability to make our way to him, Jesus comes to us and demonstrates the ultimate compassion by taking our sins on himself, by bearing the dreadful cost of our forgiveness and reconciliation. He poured out the wine of his blood for us, to cleanse us and heal us and reconcile us to the Father. He carries us and cares for us and binds up our wounds, doing everything necessary for us to have relationship with the Father.
The parable ends with a compelling call to action: “And Jesus said to him, ‘You go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37). Understanding all he has done for us, realizing the depth of his forgiveness, the breadth of his mercy and compassion, as his children we are to go and do the same. Go and forgive, go and love, go and care, go and do his bidding or whatever he calls us to.
A lesson for today from a story long ago.
Elizabeth A Mitchell