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Faith in Action: Be the Church
Love Takes a Detour, part 3
By using a Samaritan as the hero, Jesus is pointing out that it doesn’t matter what you call yourself, or who you associate or identify with. It’s the same today. Lots of people call themselves Christians - who aren’t. A recent poll conducted by the Barna Group found that 84 percent of people in the United States identify themselves as Christians. But ask yourself, do more than eight out of ten people in the U.S. live their faith as followers of Christ?
Let’s keep reading, starting again, with vs 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, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins 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.”
Jesus uses the example of the “Good Samaritan” to show us a person who looked past excuses to stop and help. The Good Samaritan chose to get off his usual route and decided to take a divine detour on his highway of life.
A Detour That Took A Risk
Vs 30 “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.”
The town of Telluride in southwestern Colorado is known for being a great resort and ski town. But it didn’t always have that reputation. Back in the “Wild West” days, the road to Telluride was so full of robbers that the town got its name from the contraction “To Hell You Ride.”
The 17-mile road from Jerusalem to Jericho had the same kind of reputation and a similar kind of infamous name. Because of the number of robbers along this road, it was known as “The Way of Blood.” This road descends some 3,300 feet through desert and rocky country that could easily hide robbers. The robbers on this road were dangerous. Even if a person didn’t have much, they would rob him just for his clothing. That’s what happened to this man in the story that Jesus told. But they didn’t just rob him; they beat him, leaving him half dead.
When the Samaritan stopped to help, he knew he was on a dangerous road. He maybe even thought that the robbers might be near and that they might get him next. But the “Good Samaritan” didn’t use risk as a justification not to act.
Sometimes we justify ourselves not helping someone in need because we are afraid of the risk to us. Now, I’ll admit there are times when taking a risk just may not be smart. For example, if you are driving through the desert and you see a sign that says, “Don’t Pick up Hitchhikers,” then you see a man in an orange jumpsuit with his thumb out, stopping to pick him up isn’t just risky, it’s…. it’s… well never mind, you know.
But most of the time our problem isn’t that we take too many risks; it’s that we don’t take any risks. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “The first question the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But... the Good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’” Friends, if you or I are going to love our neighbor, we cannot use risks as an excuse to hold back.
A Detour That Took Personal Involvement
Vs 33-34a– “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.”
When this Samaritan sees the robbed, naked, wounded man, he doesn’t go over to the other side of the road. Instead, he has sincere compassion for him. He bandages up the man’s wounds, perhaps using his own head-covering or by tearing strips from his garment. He also pours oil and wine on the wounds. In the New Testament era, olive oil was used to keep the cut skin supple, and the wine was used to help clean the wound and to help keep it from getting infected. The traveling Samaritan wasn’t afraid to get personally involved.
Medication: A Merry Heart
The School of Agriculture’s Dean of Admissions was interviewing a prospective student, “Why have you chosen this career?” he asked.
“I dream of making a million dollars in farming, like my father,” the student replied.
“Your father made a million dollars in farming?!” echoed the dean much impressed.
“No,” replied the applicant. “But he always dreamed of it.”
St Mark’s Community Church, Janesville
New Beginnings Church, New Ulm
Verse of the Week: Romans 5:8 NLT
Today’s readings: Leviticus 5 – 7