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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Good Samaritan

Luke 10 begins with the commissioning of the seventy-two; the Lord sending his disciples out in pairs to spread the good news that, "The kingdom of God is at hand for you." (Luke 10: 9) However, the command to cure the sick and eat what is laid before them doesn't end there. It contains a warning to those who refuse to listen to the Gospel. The seventy-two were told to say, "The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you." (Luke 10:11) According to this scripture, even the dust from which they trod on will testify against their rejection of the Gospel.

It is remarkable that what follows is the return of the seventy-two in exhilaration that demons fled before them, that they had the power to speak the truth and the spiritual world responded. (Luke 10:17) The next verses are critical to understanding the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Discipleship is a privilege extended by God and all praise and honor should be given to God, not in our efforts or position or authority given to us. The mere fact that our names are written in the Book of Life is reward enough. Jesus reminds the seventy-two that He saw Satan fall who was the greatest of all the angels. He fell like lightening (Luke 10:18), which is a warning to all of us who let pride in who we are and our positions to overwhelm us, and not to give the credit where the true credit is due, to God, our Father, our Lord, our Creator.

It is certainly no surprise that Jesus speaks about the greatest commandment next and He uses the Good Samaritan and the story of Martha and Mary as a real life example of this important lesson. The point is that the Parable of the Good Samaritan is not about helping the man in need, it is about God caring for us. Oftentimes, the Parable is taken from this context to apply the idea that we must care for a man in need. Although, we can certainly draw that conclusion, and it is a good one, it still fails to help us understand the context of the Parable. The story lies within the entire chapter of Luke, and should not be taken out of context from the surrounding verses. Jesus is trying to tell us that everything, our hearts, our minds, our lives belong to God. The world is a dangerous place and we cannot rely upon our neighbor or even those within our circle to care for us in a time of need. Everyone who we believed might be the one to give us salvation, didn't. God is the One who will care for us when priests, and other good citizens pass us by.

The Samaritan is the man who is separate, filled with the riches of kindness and hospitality, but seemingly to be from the wrong side of the tracks. He is God. And God's care does not end when we are taken to a place to heal and be fed. It continues because God will see to it that we are cared for, and He will check up on us. The Samaritan however, does not stay when others can do what is needed much better. He sees to the needs of the man by sharing his purse, by paying the price for the life of the injured man. God's purse is life and salvation. We are expected to go forth into the world after we are healed, and not to seek further riches from the Samaritan's purse, but to be thankful that our names are written in the Book of Life. We have life, it is only given once, and we are to live it, to spread the Gospel and give all thanks to God.

The story of Martha and Mary is another example of letting the world's chores take a back seat to listening to God when He speaks. We are not to fuss about worldly problems when we should be hanging on every word from the mouth of God. (Luke 10:38-42) We should be God focused and not worldly needs focused. We would all do well to remember the next time someone talks about the needs, the needs of the world, we should be more concerned about the needs of the soul.