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.” told him, “Go and do likewise.”
The priests and the Levites organized and led the people of Israel into worship.
You might say that the preacher and the worship leader were headed home after two full weeks of revival meetings. And when they saw the bleeding man unconscious on the roadside, they crossed over and passed by on the other side.
Did you see that coming?
Why didn’t they help him?
At that time, Samaritans were considered to be outside the boundaries of the people of God. And yet, in Jesus’ parable, it is the Samaritan who bears witness through his actions to the merciful heart of the God of Israel. We are told he was moved with compassion – he had pity on the man. Instead of moving away from him, he moved toward him. He bandaged the man’s wounds. He took the man to the nearest inn and provided for his ongoing medical and physical care. It was the Samaritan, not the priest or the Levite, who bore witness to the God of Israel.
What are we to make of that?
The story begins with the expert in the law asking Jesus about what he is to do in order to inherit eternal life. Does Jesus’ response surprise you in any way?
Before you go to sleep each night, spend a few minutes thinking over the day that’s now coming to an end. Invite Jesus to walk with you through the day, and bring to mind those things that would be helpful to sort out with him in the safety of his love for you.
What were the thoughts and feelings within you when you woke up? How did you spend the first hour of your day?
What was the highlight of your day?
What occupied your attention the most?
Where did you most sense God’s presence during your day? What was going on?
Did you sense God’s prompting to do something? Or say something? Did you sense him move you to engage with a particular situation you noticed? How did it go?
What were your primary emotions? Was there a fear or anxiety that was constantly present? Was there a hunger or a longing that was a constant itch?
Was there peace? Joy? Gratitude?
Who were the people you interacted with today? How do you think your interactions went? Was there a conversation you wish you could redo? Is there someone you need to make peace with tomorrow?
Is there someone whose forgiveness you need? Is there someone you need to forgive?
End your day in the Lord’s prayer.