The Good Samaritan

Know where the phrase comes from? I went to a New Testament class today and we dissected the parable Jesus taught in Luke 10. I cant help blogging because this is a subject I feel very strongly about and yet get lots of resistance to.

You'll recall that in the story, a man was robbed and left for dead. Two people walked passed him, offering no help. In fact, they walked on the other side of the road. Then came the man from Samaria, thus called a Samaritan. This is what he did, and thus what we should do for those in need:

  1. He had compassion (rather than judgment or disgust) for the man in need.
  2. The Samaritan went to him, rather than waiting for the man to ask for help.
  3. He bound up his wounds, probably using his own clothing as bandages because it's doubtful that he was carrying a medical kit.
  4. He set him on his own beast, sacrificing his own convenience.
  5. He brought him to an inn and took care of him all through the night. He did not leave him during his critical hour.
  6. He gave the inn-keeper two pence, the equivalent of two days' wages, to pay for the man's care as well as promising to pay any other debt necessary to nurse the man back to health.

Another striking bit of background is that there was a great deal of contention between the Samaritans and the Jews. The two groups were bitter enemies. Nowhere in the parable does the Samaritan ask the man if he is a Jew. He does not waste time debating if the man is worthy of help, he simply gives it.

The modern day translation of this story is the homeless man standing outside the grocery store or on the freeway off ramp. I realize that we have to protect ourselves from danger, especially as women, but there are so many ways we can meet needs while protecting our safety. It is not our place to judge whether the need is real or not. We error in assuming this is another scam that we've heard so much about. Our instinct should be compassion and our actions should reflect that. Our service ought to inconvenience us so that we are affected and changed by the experience. If someone is hungry, feed them. And feed them as you want to eat. (Love thy neighbor as thyself.) At the very least, if you see someone lying on the sidewalk, treat them like a human being instead of walking across the street and not looking back. When I worked with homeless people in downtown Phoenix, one of the things that broke my heart was hearing them talk about not feeling human; having people avoid eye contact with them as if they didn't exist. If you dont want to give money, at least give a little acknowledgment.

I heard a quote today, "We can all choose our friends but God gives us neighbors everywhere and commands that we love them too."



greg said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Courtney said...

If you help those that say they need it and don't, then the weight is on their shoulders. If you don't help those that do need it, the weight is on your shoulders.

Jill said...

Amen, Courtney. Thanks for "getting it".

steven said...

hey, you can't delete comments you don't agree with. That's messed up. jk.

The Blakes said...

Well said. My multicultural lit students and I were just discussing the "subculture" of homeless people and how often we assume they are reaping what they sowed. Compassion is a far greater characteristic to possess than just tolerance.

melmck said...

Awesome story! I love getting so much out of gospel doctrine. I don't know when the last time I had a good experience there without gracie crawling all over me. Thanks so much for a refresh on that story. It's a good one. Hope you guys are doin good? Gracie misses Cohen!

Courtney said...

My comment is not quite as relevent as it was when greg had his post up.

Anonymous said...


Jill said...

For the record, I deleted the first comment because it was all about the scam artists that get help they dont need. The whole point of my blog is that we should not even worry about whether its a scam or not. We dont judge PERIOD. I just wanted "my readers" to read my post without thinking of the scammers and so I deleted the comment. Right or wrong, that's what I did.

Anonymous said...

I can't pass on without saying to everyone remember the man was robbed and left for dead.
He wasn't standing in the road or at a fourway cross road with his hand out,able to work,he was bleading and almost dead!
There are very few Christans that would pass by and not help.
In my travels in life,I have stoped and helped anyone and everyone who was broke down on the highway and at least go to the next town and send help back.
I have given almost every hitch hiker a ride, it might be in the back of my pickup just in case!
I have helped and been really burned. Cost me to be able to meet my personal needs and my children because I have this scripture running in my head everyday. All I can say is be careful.

Jill said...

Here's the resistance I'm talking about. How do you know who's able to work and who's not? You can tell by looking? You think homeless people can fill out an application to Burger King even though they dont have an address or phone number to put on the application? YOu think they can go to an interview in their ripped and smelly clothes? All I'm trying to say is that we dont know people's circumstances and we should help when we can. I'm not saying give away all your money or put yourself at risk. I'm just saying our instinct should be compassion, not judgement.

Auburn said...

I never really thought much about homeless people being from mid-missouri, but living in Seattle has definitely brought the reaility of homelessness to the forefront for me. It was my husband who taught me to at least smile politely and speak to the, not to just completely ignore them when you walk by them . . . Thanks Dave.