Welcome back to our ongoing series, I DARE YOU. This is our look at the unique parables of Jesus Christ from the four Gospels found in the New Testament. Once a week, we will examine one of Christ’s stories and let his challenge to his first-century audience speak to us now and provoke us to live in the Kingdom of God better, more fully, more wholeheartedly. We see these parables as dares to step outside of the norm of the world and enter into what God has for us. We hope that you will be likewise challenged and that you will take the dare to live a more Christlike, Kingdom of God-focused life.
This is another one of those parables that are popular. One of the few that quickly come to mind when someone says the “parable”. But just because it is popular, just because you and I have heard it before, it doesn’t mean that we have heard everything before.
Even in this story of Jesus’, there is a challenge, a dare, for believers to rise to. A sacred calling that we must hear in the middle of the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
“On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
WHAT IS THIS ABOUT?
The Good Samaritan is one of the most famous parables. The number of ways that this particular story has been read, re-read, which aspects have been emphasized would boggle the mind.
I’m not saying any of them is wrong. Only that the story and their interpretation has been hashed and rehashed so often that we might miss out on the subtle dare that Jesus has for us.
Jesus tells a man, an expert in the religious law, what it means to be a neighbour. He does this by using a parable. But it isn’t just that we need to show love and compassion to those that are hurt.
It’s how we do it. And that is where the dare lies.
This is another quiet, subtle challenge, but one that calls us something very real and personal.
I DARE YOU TO HAVE MERCY ON THOSE IN NEED, USING WHATEVER IT IS THAT YOU HAVE.
Read carefully how Jesus describes the actions of the Good Samaritan.
“He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’”
The Samaritan came upon a man that was in need, desperate need at that. And he used what he had to help him.
Oil. Wine. His own donkey. His own money, what he had on hand, and what more he had elsewhere.
His own time and energy. His schedule. His reputation. These too were given up for the man that was attacked and left to die on the side of the road.
Jesus shows that this is how a neighbour is to act. This is how we love those around us, whether we know them or not.
OUR EXCUSE FOR DISOBEDIENCE
The rub, the bump in the road to obedience of this dare is usually this: But I don’t have anything to use.
Maybe it’s money that we lack, so we use that as a “reason” not to help people.
It can be time, energy, any other resource that may be benificial to the care and need of those around us.
We don’t because we think we don’t have. Or we don’t think we have enough.
Once we’re out of debt, then…
Once I’ve got that thing taken care of, then I can…
The “reasons” we don’t aren’t invalid. Yes we have bills to pay. Yes, we have mouths to feed and backs to clothe. But waiting until we don’t have bills or other such responsibilities means that we will never help our neighbour.
Really, the reasons or excuses we use are based in fear, because helping anyone will cost us something.
It cost the Samaritan to help the man left for dead on the road. He used his oil and wine. You can’t pick up either of those once they are spilt. Once money is spent, it is gone. The wear and tear on an animal cannot be undone. The time spent not going where this Samaritan wanted to go can never be reclaimed.
If I help someone, I might not have enough for me. If I give money here, to this person in need, how will I cost the expense over there? If I spend time and energy helping, when will I have time for…whatever else I might want to do?
When we live and act out of that fear, the worry about having enough for us and those that need help, we forget what Christ said.
THE GENTLE REBUKE WE NEED
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
God takes care of us. He gives us all we need, even when we find strangers hurt on the side of the road. Even when “love your neighbour” comes at a cost to what we have.
Remember that. It is always true.
Jesus concludes his parable this way, “Go and do likewise.”
Take what you have. Use it to be merciful and compassionate to those in need.
In this way, we show our love for God and love for all of our neighbours.
All Scripture references provided by Biblegateway.com Be sure to check them out if you are looking for a verse, some commentaries to help you understand a passage or a devotional to keep you in the Written Word every day. Or for those on the go, check out their app, available at the App Store, Google Play, and Amazon Fire.
This article first appeared on Christian Thought Sandbox.