“Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him…. Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.” – Luke 10: 33, 36-37
The story of the Good Samaritan is a story of compassion. But it is also a story of getting involved. A man is robbed and left for dead on the side of the road when three people pass by. First up is a religious leader, soon followed by a teacher of the religious law. Arguably both Jewish leaders should have stopped to help, but they don’t. It’s the third man, a Samaritan, who stops to help. Only one of the three got involved.
The best part of this story is that the man lying in the road didn’t have to earn anything to be given grace by the Samaritan. This parable is actually a picture of what Jesus has done for us because Jesus is the ultimate “Good Samaritan.” It’s Jesus who steps right into the middle of our mess, who walks into the midst of our deepest need and does for us what we could never do for ourselves. From our stranded, beaten and broken state, Jesus picks us up, binds our wounds, and offers us new life. But it doesn’t stop there.
Jesus takes it one more step. He takes our place. Jesus became the one beaten and left for dead on the side of the road. He was stripped and robbed of all His glory, bearing our sin and shame all the way to the cross. While others pass you by, Jesus will always see you and stop. Jesus will get involved. When this really begins to sink in, we should be gladly be on mission with Jesus to show the world the love and mercy Jesus provides. Out of compassion, Jesus swapped places with us. Jesus is the mercy of God freely given for you and for me.
God doesn’t want His people to simply follow a list of rules; He’s after the heart, and He wants His followers to love others as He does. We are to respond to others as God would respond to them, just as the Samaritan responded to the half-dead man on the side of the road; the same way God responds to us when we are dead in our sins and in need of radical grace. This kind of change can’t come from following the law and that’s what Jesus was pointing out to the man. When you serve others, you’re joining the Lord in the work He’s already doing. He’s always working. We simply need to open our eyes, direct, and see the opportunities to be a blessing to our neighbors.
What can you do to help make a difference in the lives of your families, neighbors, or co-workers? How many times do we walk by someone’s troubles without even giving a thought to rolling up our sleeves and getting involved? When’s the last time you shed real tears for the people around you? When did you last get involved.
- What can we learn from the story of the Good Samaritan?
- Since God is so involved in our lives, what can we do this week to get involved in the lives of people in need?