The Good Samaritan (and a story of today)

photo by Darryl Dyck

The Good Samaritan 

Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’ “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”” (Luke‬ ‭10:30-37‬)

A Story Of Today

A black man was walking down the street to his car, and he was attacked by police officers. They beat him up and left him half dead beside the road. Two men walked by and when they saw the man lying there, they crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. “I saw what happened from a far” said one of the men to his friend. “I’m so glad that we have an amazing police force that are committed to keeping us safe. Black Lives Matter? Yea right! ALL lives matter! Police lives matter! I bet he was resisting arrest and they felt threatened by him. What else were they supposed to do?!”

Meanwhile a woman was walking to her car just leaving a black lives matter protest. She still had the sign in her hand that said “White Silence = Violence”. Then she gasped and dropped her sign when she saw the man laying on the side of the road. She instantly felt compassion for him. Going over to him, she lifted him up to make sure he was breathing. Then she called for an ambulance and followed them to the hospital in her car. She visited him daily and made sure all his hospital expenses were taken care of. “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by the officers?” Jesus would ask.

The one who showed him mercy.

“Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.””

Firstly—Police officers don’t violently attack people and then leave them there. But if they did… oh how that story above would hold true. I also know that this comparison isn’t an accurate full representation of why police brutality exists. There are so many layers to the systemic racism that influences this reality. I also recognize that comparing robbers and police officers, can seem like two contradicting points, nor does that portion of the story hold the same weight in both narratives. However, one thing IS true in both scenarios. There is no justification for the complete lack of human dignity that is displayed in both stories. Police brutality is just as inexcusable as the robbers behavior in the Bible story, and saying “all lives matter” while ignoring the root of the problem is just as ignorant as two religious leaders passively walking by a broken bloody body on the side of the road and doing nothing.

Let me say that again…

Police brutality is just as inexcusable as the robbers behavior in the Bible story, and saying “all lives matter” while ignoring the root of the problem is just as ignorant as two religious leaders passively walking by a broken bloody body on the side of the road and doing nothing.

If you cannot see this, then you are part of the problem.

The reason Jesus told this parable was to show the religious leader who “their neighbor” is, after referencing verse 27 where he says “love your neighbor as yourself”. The religious leader then asked “who is my neighbor?” In the story of the Good Samaritan, we see that being a “neighbor” is the one who tends to the needs of the oppressed. It’s also important to note that due to the culture at that time, the Samaritans and the Jews were not typically fond of one another. This is often the point made when religious people use this story to encourage good character and compassion towards all. It’s a good point, but I see something else. A small minor detail that is screaming at our current culture. That detail is this: The reality is that the Samaritan himself did not see the robbers in Jesus’s parable.

You have to wonder why Jesus chose to tell the story like that.

Based on when the Samaritan entered the story, the Jewish man could have been attacked for any reason in his mind; a crime even. Why didn’t Jesus add in more context behind the innocence of the Jewish man and the Samaritans knowledge of this? Could it be because the Samaritan did not need to know who attacked him or why it happened in order to actively show compassion? Could it be because it just doesn’t matter either way? Could Jesus have been also making that point?

This minor detail is important in further developing what it means when people in the Christian community make a statement about being a “Good Samaritan”. 

When we read this story we are understanding it from our perspective as the reader, based on the details WE know to be true. We also assume that since it is just a story of a parable and not an actual account of something that happened in reality, that the details hold less weight in regards to the lesson at large.

But what if we read this story from the perspective of the Samaritan?

What if when we put ourselves in the shoes of the Samaritan, we recognize that tending to the needs of the oppressed and fighting for injustices, is simpler than we think? We can’t say that we are “being the Good Samaritan” in today’s society, if we are so busy fact checking and pointing the finger elsewhere that we miss opportunities to fully embody this powerful act of love and compassion. Notice in my story the men who passed by saw the entire incident. This is because in today’s society we see or hear about the incident, call it fake news or “not knowing all the details”, then we literally and figuratively walk away. Why is that? I’m not saying we shouldn’t fact check things before we form opinions on specific details. I’m saying what if we spent LESS time needing to know the details on these situations and more time on having the Good Samaritan mindset.

Now. On to this—“All lives matter!” Yes…

I’m not going to argue and claim that it’s untrue when someone says that—but what you are doing is taking the voices of the oppressed and silencing them in order to generalize a phrase that is meant to bring healing and hope to a very specific hurting group of people. That is not okay. When the Boston marathon bombings happened and the phrase floating around was “Boston Strong”, no one responded with “but all cities are strong!” We can stop that nonsense right now.

All lives SHOULD matter. 

I’m going to venture out and say something that many people may disagree with. I think if Jesus were here today, that he would be standing with our black brothers and sisters saying “black lives matter”. Jesus would look past all the “junk” that comes with every movement like this, and use it as an opportunity to stand with the oppressed and make a messy movement have purpose and power. If you don’t believe me, go read the gospels.

All throughout scripture, Jesus very specifically tended to the needs of the individuals that required his healing presence in their lives at that very moment. He died for all lives yes, but he also lived his entire adult life on earth dismantling the prejudices of the religious leaders of that time. Over and over again you can find in scripture where people like the Pharisees were basically saying, but all the laws matter!!!! To which Jesus always brought them back down by reminding them that healing the hurting and broken was more important than the laws that were set in place for all of the people at that time. It’s almost as if they were saying “but Jesus, all lives matter!” And Jesus was like “yes, but right now THIS persons life matters”. “This dear woman, a daughter of Abraham, has been held in bondage by Satan for eighteen years. Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath?” (Luke‬ ‭13:16‬)

A “Good Samaritan” is someone who quickly acts on behalf of the oppressed, no questions asked, and looks into the eyes of the victim and says…

YOU matter.

What if saying “all lives matter” actually meant that ALL lives mattered?

If it did, then maybe I could get behind saying that. But for now, I’ll just go ahead and be the Good Samaritan and continue saying…


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