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.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise. Luke 10:30-37
More often than not, our culture associates mercy with empathetic feelings. Sadly, feelings alone extend limited help.
Have you ever allowed yourself a prolonged period of significant empathy with those affected by tragic circumstances, only to find yourself past the point of offering practical assistance? Or, if you do muster resources, is it most often for far away disasters that allow you to end your involvement when the headlines disappear?
If so, don’t get down on yourself quite yet. Take a second look at the mercy of the Samaritan traveler. Jesus was clear that the Samaritan was moved by compassion; but what is not explicit, is that the Samaritan was prepared for such situations.
The Samaritan had an adequate supply of oil to dress the wounds of the injured traveler and a donkey to transport the injured man to safety. He also had a trust relationship with his regular innkeeper. These characteristics indicate this man thought about being prepared for emergencies that might entail helping others. Also, it wouldn’t have been a surprise to him to find someone in trouble on this dangerous route . His willingness to help was enabled by his readiness to help with this emergency situation which he anticipated.
It is also a fair assumption that the Samaritan held no prejudice toward individuals who might have had some responsibility in exposing themselves to disaster. As a result, his heart was indiscriminately compassionate when he saw the beaten man’s condition.
Maybe you’ve never considered the kind of preparation and experiences the Samaritan needed prior to exhibiting true neighborliness toward the waylaid traveler. Ask God to show you some situations he wants you to experience and skills he wants you to develop so you will have a Godly response when you encounter people in miserable circumstances on your earthly journey.
By Kathleen Petersen