The Good Samaritan
Until we recognize Jesus as our Good Samaritan, we will not understand how to be one.
This story is often used to teach ethics. "Help anyone in need" tends to be where we go with this. While that is a true statement, this story can often be summed up as a "change your behavior" story WITHOUT proper context.
Jesus is directly addressing a religious leader who has no intentions of learning from Jesus. We know that he set out to "trap" Jesus. Jesus doesn't play into that. The religious man doesn't even know that his question AND his answer simply show he doesn't understand how God works in our lives. We do not EARN an inheritance. We CANNOT keep the law - the law shows us that we can't when we properly study it. "WHO is MY NEIGHBOR?" showed that all the man cared about was justifying himself.
Jesus' telling the story of the good Samaritan was not just about being kind. It was a lesson in how religion cannot save us (nor does it want to - it only condemns). The man who was near dead on the road had no ability to save himself. He was completely dependent upon the help from a stranger. And the fact that Jesus closes out the story with saying that a "GOOD" Samaritan was the one who saved the day would have been so offensive. BUT, it was exactly the Gospel picture we all need. "While we were still his enemies, Christ died for us."
This story isn't just about crossing boarders and extending a hand to your neighbor - which DOES IN FACT MEAN - ANYONE in NEED (in this case, even the non-Jewish & non-well behaved good Jewish people for that matter). It is about the GREATEST BOUNDARY CROSSING. It's about the greatest need being met (our being left for dead in our sin now rescued, carried, and brought to safety). Sure, should we aim to go and do what Jesus said, in "being the one who showed mercy," yes. But don't be too quick to put yourself in the story as the one who does the good... what if we need to first be the one who realizes the good done to us?
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