Friday, 29 June 2012
The parable of The Good Samaritan has always been my favorite. When I was a small child, maybe three, my daddy and I would read every night from a tattered old Children's Bible. The Good Book is still in the family. Penny, the baby dominatrix, is now the Book's owner. I was lucky to find exactly the same book cover online -- a less tattered version of course.
Every night I would ask for the story of "The Hurt Man", what I called the Good Samaritan when I was a toddler. I know this is the same cover because of the water-colored artwork.
This is the story of The Good Samaritan from the NIV Bible:
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 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’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 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. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 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. 35 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.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
To me this story has always been about a man who was worthless, so why take the time to help him. From what I understand, Samaritans were the lowest of the low. A gangsta straight outta Compton would even look down on a Samaritan. A priest, by his own vows, would be obligated to help a hurt man in the streets. This priest chose to ignore the man. Evidently, a man in critical condition isn't even worth a priest's time.
Levites were high society. Think of a person from West Plano, Highland Park, or Southlake. Wouldn't these successful citizens, well born and educated, know that a man who is half-dead deserves their immediate attention? Obviously many of us don't care.
A Samaritan was the lowest of the low. White trash. In this story even a trashy Samaritan has the humility, even more so, than those who have been conditioned to look down on a hurt man. Even a person from a trailer park, roach apartment, perhaps even homeless, is more compassionate than those of us born with a silver spoon.
Growing up with this as my favorite story, not just Bible Story, of all time has given me humility. Even though I was born into old money, my blood worth more than some men's lives, I've learned from this story that those without a blade of grass to their name are equal in the Kingdom of Heaven. Equal to me. The Good Samaritan and the "Hurt Man" will always have a special place in my heart. The place of compassion and empathy. I have gone and does likewise, but without this story in my heart; I may not have had the courage.
What lesson do you get from the story of the Good Samaritan? What is your favorite Bible story, and how has it influenced your life?