Why we need Samaritans
Tony E Dillon-Hansen
Sermon based upon Luke 10: 25-37, Psalm 25, Deuteronomy 30:9—14
We return to Luke this week with a “lawyer” asking Jesus a question about the law - a test. We know how people love to test Jesus.
“What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus responds with a question, and the lawyer responds with verses from Deuteronomy, “you shall love God with all your heart and soul and your neighbor as yourself.” And for the grand prize, the lawyer follows the test with, “who is my neighbor?”
Jesus responds with story about 6 people. Let’s look at these characters and ask, “Why we need the Samaritan?”
- A traveller, a person going about their day.
- A robber - a violent criminal that leaves traveler for dead.
- A priest - who walks on other side of the road.
- A Levite - who also passes by
- A samaritan - who tends to the beaten and robbed
- An innkeeper - who is tasked to help care for the beaten and robbed.
We don’t know the rhyme or reason, but we can see glimpses of this robber around us, maybe even in us. Maybe, this person is so twisted that the sight of another invokes violence. There is a power trip that denies humanity or godliness. Maybe, they have every reason to lash out or just lost care for people. Question how could we stop this?
There are the two that have obligations to care for people and reach out to people, but for whatever reason, decide today is not the day. Maybe, they think “I have more important things to do”, “there will always be victims”, and “I can’t do anything.” They read verses but seemed to forget the meanings. Yet, they yield to complacency when much more is needed.
The innkeeper plays the part of hospitality and caretaker. They do not know why the person is robbed (or if the robbers may come after them next), but they are given instructions to care. Let’s assume so.
Then the star, the Samaritan -> Why we have “good Samaritan” laws.
What does the Samaritan do? They react first, not with vengeance or disdain or ignorance of truth. They instead become the face of God to someone truly and perhaps desperately in need. They react with healing, comfort, and compassion to this person beaten and robbed.
The would-be-robbed person, whose story we don’t know, but we see in our world as: traveller, walker, worshipper, student in school, shopper at market, homeless, or a woman just brutalized. (Ukraine even?)
What is our reaction? Who in this story do we identify or want to? Be honest and ask the question why? We could be anyone of these and all at once at points.
This is not just a cute story but a challenge to be like the Samaritan to find inside us compassion, empathy and care. React first, not with violence and hate, but instead meet the violence with a nudge of love.
I can hear someone in the crowd say, I would be packing. Question, does packing a weapon help us breed compassion? As a martial artist, we teach that whenever you show a weapon, you mean to use it. For self-defense, weapons hep none if you can’t get to it. Maybe it was left home, stuck in the purse, or the attack was such a surprise, there was no time to react or worse the weapon gets turned on us.
How did it get to this point? There are many questions in that. Who then becomes the arbiter of life or ability to make decisions over one’s body and being? The criminal or those that ignore the tragedy as not my problem - That just continues the circle or violence?
Who among us needs someone to be the face of God today?
Who maybe needs a nudge to remind them that violence and control isn’t the only way?
Who needs the face of God that brings hope, love and mercy into our world - one person at a time?
Who serves the homeless, the downtrodden, the beaten, the robbed, the seeking among us - no matter where they are on life’s journey?
It might feel easier to be those that walk on the other side with ignorance, because there will be future robbers. Let us just pray that it isn’t us then that become beggars.
That is why we need the Samaritan. To remind us what the love of God looks like.
Not turning blind eyes, but showing compassion.
Not avoiding truths, but giving that measure of heart into a world that so desperately needs it.
Not turning to violence but sharing the love of Jesus in the precious and needed hour.
We need the Samaritan because they break the cycle. Maybe, the robber was at one time a person on the side of the road when everyone ignored. Maybe, the Samaritan was once that person beaten and someone showed them the face of God. They remembered that compassion.
What we do know is the Samaritan is what we need because they show the face of God with compassion, love and mercy. Beloved, that is how we can break the circle - this day and this most precious hour.
Prayer: “To be truly good means more than not robbing people . . . To be truly good means more than being righteously religious . . . To be truly good means being a good neighbor. . . . And to be a good neighbor means recognizing that there are ultimately no strangers. . . . Everybody is my neighbor! . . . Everybody is my brother! . . . There are no isolated monads wounded on the other side of the street! . . . We're all connected.”
― Brian D. McLaren, A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey
Thanks Be to God.