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Passed By On The Other Side

The parable of the "Good Samaritan" is no doubt one of the most popular in the Bible. This parable has a beautiful and touching ending, however, there are a few pertinent lessons to be gleaned from this story of help and hope. We notice there are three main characters in the story; the Priest, Levite, Samaritan, and a Certain Man.

The story opens with the "Certain Man" referenced almost in an anonymous way as to draw attention to his commonness, who fell among thieves. The thieves stripped him... a sign of humiliation, and wounded him.... physical abuse.. and then left....abandoned him...leaving him half dead. This "Certain Man" represents many of the hurts experienced by humanity. The "Certain Man" also represents opportunity. So we next see the presentation of the opportunity as a "Certain Priest"...anonymous or common clergy yet representative of all clergy, sees the man. There was an unmistakable condition of this man, which begged for compassion and mercy; after all what was there for the priest to deny or rationalize? The "Certain Man" was naked! Upon encountering this parable with a fresh look, I was smitten with the fact a priest or clergy was given the first opportunity to help this "Certain Man". Very often in religious culture, if a parishioner wants to brag on their church, they will site the pastors name. I believe the priest in this passage can also include the modern church culture of our day. It seems more often than not the leadership has influenced the church to disregard or remain aloof from subjects which foster fear of the unknown. More than likely this man had other baggage which was easy to overlook and disregard. Not withstanding, the woeful haunting response to the attitude of the priest (and the culture he represented) as clearly recorded in Luke 10:25-37; "He passed by on the other side". It was not insulting enough to ignore this "Certain Man", but he physically removed himself from the connecting proximity. This "Certain Priest" passed by on the other side.

And likewise a Levite, (associate priest, teacher, and political member) saw him and he also passed by on the other side. I can imagine if you grant me literary license, this scholar no doubt influenced by the his priestly boss gazing down on this broken man and thinking, "I need to go back and consult the other priests and see what is the most politically correct way to handle this". He may even have thought this man needs to learn a lesson before I help him. Perhaps I will meet with the board to see if they can enroll him in a seminar to rectify his life circumstances of finances - after all don't most things stem from that? Regardless of what he thought, the Bible clearly records "the Levite passed by on the other side".

But..... not and is used this time, which leads us to believe a message of hope is coming. A "Certain Samaritan"; once again a sense of anonymity to symbolize a tone of commonness, an everyday Christian man who was on a journey. This man was busy and had a mission to accomplish which was pre-planned. However, we see an act of selflessness which didn't arrive with ease but rather was built into his everyday lifestyle. He saw the man and more than likely purposefully crossed to his side of the road and perhaps even touched him. The account states with unwritten pathos that he immediately had compassion on him. Whatever the Good Samaritan saw through the eye gate affected his heart which responded with love, compassion and mercy. It doesn't even say he prayed with the man which he could have done with spiritual intent and then walk away. No, he went to him. The Samaritan placed himself near the man instead of passing by the man. The power of human nearness cannot be overstated. Surely this man felt the comfort from the Samaritans Spirit. Please don't miss the process and progression found in this parable.. it is powerful. Next, we see the Samaritan binding the wounds of this common man left half dead. I can imagine the Samaritan may have asked himself why all this effort for someone he didn't even know-just one man in the sea of humanity. But, he continues with action and activity to pour oil and wine into the man's wounds. Oil is symbolic of healing. Who knows the kinds of and to what extent this common hurting, wounded man was being healed? Then he set him on his own beast. The adjective "our" shows ownership or personal responsibility for the care of this man. The Samaritan didn't pawn the circumstances of this man off on another passer by or even turn him over to the compassionate ministries department for which many times is further humiliation. He took him to an inn....probably like one of our motel or hotels. It could have been a homeless shelter, the idea was he was taking action for this mans need. He stayed with the man all night and cared for him until the morning. The next day, no doubt being in need to continue his journey, he paid for the lodging and confirmed the care of the man with the host- also being sure the needs of expenses were covered. He told the host he would pay more upon his return... which implies the "Good Samaritan" was planning to return to check on the condition of this broken man.

I am greatly moved by this parable-profoundly so. Jesus closes this section with a question as he so often did, "Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do likewise."

We are all called to the selfless attitude portrayed by the "Good Samaritan". Whether it be the person struggling with mental illness along side the road of life needing mercy, compassion or understanding or the homeless or hungry; it doesn't matter. I implore all of us to go and do LIKEWISE.


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