Once again we come to the story of the lawyer testing Jesus. Once again Jesus bounces the question back at the lawyer. Once again the Lawyer answers rightly “Love God; love your neighbour.” Once again Jesus tells him he is right, do this and he will live. Once again the Jesus turns back the attempt to ensnare Him.
But Luke continues the story where Matthew left it. The lawyer seems to sense that Jesus has pointed out to him especially the need to love his neighbour. And so he seeks to justify himself, and asks, “Who is my neighbour?” Jesus answers with this well known parable of the Good Samaritan.
Samaritans were viewed as halfbreed New Age semi-believers; they believed a little bit of everything. The Jews despised them. If Jesus were giving this parable to the Westboro Baptist, the Samaritan would be gay; if He were giving this parable to a racist, he would be black. So we must ask ourselves: who do we despise? This is the person who is the Samaritan for us.
We all know this parable well, there is no point in me retelling it. But who are we in this parable?
First, in a very real sense, we are that lawyer in that question, “Who is my neighbour?”
Do we respond to need like the priest or the Levite? both of whom had legitimate reasons that they could use to justify not helping? Do we respond with questions, “what will happen to me if I help?” If they touched blood, or if the wounded man died on them, they would not be able to serve in the temple. Both priest and Levite put their own concerns above the needs of the wounded man. The Samaritan realized that the man could well die if he did not help, and so he helped him and bound up his wounds. This is a service that Jesus calls us all to in this parable, to bind up the wounds of others we come in contact with.
Sometimes the wounds are obvious; sometimes they are not. We must be the one who has mercy. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
So our neighbour is everyone. And in this day of internet and global communications, our neighbour may well be on another continent. We must be the one who has mercy. We must be the one who listens, who hears, who gives space for others who hide their wounds.
In another sense, we are the innkeeper. We have been given a stewardship for the care of others. We must attend to them, for the Lord has already made payment to us, and has promised to recompense us if we spend more. We also, as innkeeper, have a charge to keep our inn in good order. The inn was a hospital to the wounded man. Here we have this church that is a hospital for wounded souls. We must do our best to make sure this ministry is available for all.
Thirdly, we are the man who fell among thieves. During the 5th week of Great Lent the hymns of Vespers and Matins remind us of this; many of them are based on this very parable. Thursday Vespers before the Great Canon has this hymn:
In my wretchedness, I have fallen among the the thieves of my own thoughts. My mind has been despoiled, and cruelly have I been beaten; all my soul is wounded, and stripped of the virtues, I lie naked upon the highway of life. Seeing me in bitter pain and thinking that my wounds could not be healed, the priest neglected me and would not look at me. Unable to endure my soul-destroying agony, the levite when he saw me passed by on the other side. But Thou, O Christ my God, was pleased to come, not from Samaria, but incarnate from Mary: in Thy love for mankind, grant me healing and pour upon me Thy great mercy.
I am the man who fell among thieves, even my own thoughts; they have covered all my body with wounds, and I lie beaten and bruised. But come to me, O Christ my Saviour and heal me.
Jesus is the Good Samaritan Who binds up our self-inflicted wounds. We are our own enemy. We inflicted upon ourselves grievous wounds. But Christ comes to us to bind up and heal those wounds.
To Him be glory, now and ever and unto ages of ages.