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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Friday, September 22, 2006
The Good Samaritan.
Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.'
The parable was told in answer to the question "Who is my neighbor?" but today I want to draw our attention to Christ through this illustration.

Picture this: you are an Israelites who is living in Jerusalem, and for whatever reason you need to be in Jericho. You determine to go the next day, and are up before the dawn so that you put your foot to the road just as the sun is rising. You have walked to Jericho before, it is a pleasant walk, and if you walk briskly, you should be in Jericho when the sun is at its apex (around noon). Jericho is about 17 miles away, so you bring some water, some snacks, and because you plan to stay a few days and do business there you bring some money too.

It has been your past experience on this particular errand that in the first half hour or hour you see many people - at first you see the caravans and merchants who arrived at Jerusalem after the city gates were closed and have spent the night outside the walls, the bustle of life already buzzing through the motley camp as they prepare to enter the city. You are not alone at first, there are farmers who have spent the night in the city, and others who, for whatever reason, are also leaving the city - but by the first hour you were already entirely alone.

You have come to expect that there is a quiet time after the first hour, that typically lasts until the midway point between Jerusalem and Jericho. People leaving Jericho and coming to Jerusalem start to pass you (going in the other direction) about the midway point. Occasionally it happens, though not this time, that a caravan of merchants passes you or the odd mounted merchant hurries past on their donkey, but mostly these are your quiet hours, and you have come to enjoy them - times of solitude and reflection, and quiet prayer.

You were thus engaged when you saw the first travellers from Jericho coming down the road, a loud, burly bunch of younger men - they looked to be ruffians, and you can't help but feel suddenly vulnerable. You put on your brave face and ignore the possibility - surely you are just paranoid. As they draw near, you master yourself and give them your most polite greeting, and you are relived to see them stop and greet you back. The one of them, probably the eldest of their bunch inquires about your health, and the goings on in Jerusalem, and his companions seem less interested, as they seem to pass on - but it is only too late that you realize they have in fact surrounded you, and when the circle is complete, the one talking scrunches his face into a scowl and before he can strike you, another from behind hits you with something, maybe a piece of wood, on the head. You fall down, but they don't stop - they are kicking you, hitting you with things - your hands are up covering your face, but they kick you in the face none the less. You try to rise, but one last kick to the stomach causes you to feel light headed, and then you pass out.

You wake up, bloody, everything that you had with you is gone - your clothes, your money, your water, your earrings - torn out of your ears. You are a bloody pulp, and it is long past noon. You try to rise, but the pain causes you to pass out again almost immediately. You wake again, it is later in the afternoon, and with shallow breath you do your best to stay conscious - hoping that someone might come along to help you.

Your prayers seem to be answered, for coming towards you is a priest - A Priest! Surely God is merciful to you in sending you a priest. As he approaches you relax as an "all is better now" sort of wave passes over you. As he approaches he looks down at you, even catching your eye. You manage to croak out something weak - but it is so hard to produce any volume - surely more than a few ribs are broken, you can barely whisper out your thanks giving, only the man doesn't stop. Your blood has made a stick mess all over the road, and he lifts up his robes as he steps around you - not wanting to get all bloody - and though you almost pass out from the effort you manage to croak out in an almost audible voice "help me..." but he is gone, and you are left there on the road.

Your only companions over the next hour are the buzzing flies all around you, congregating over your open wounds. You manage to find a stick - perhaps it was the one you were beaten with? And try and pull it towards you, and as you are doing so you catch sight of another man - dressed like a Levite. Praise the Lord! Surely this brother will see your dilemma and come to your aid. As he comes near, unlike the priest, he seems to not notice you - though you are right in the middle of the way - yet he doesn't once look at you, and though you manage to sputter out, "water..." yet he seems to take no notice of you as he walks on.

As the sun begins to set you know the worse is yet to come - the cold will probably kill you tonight, and if not the cold, there are animals that come out at night... You hope the cold gets you first. But in the fading light a final hope - here is a man coming, you can't even tell if he is coming from Jericho or Jerusalem, the blood has dried on your face so that your eyes are crusted shut - you just hear the sound of running feet - at first you think it may be those ruffians coming back to finish the job - but suddenly a wineskin is pressed to your lips and a voice thick with warmth and an accent tells you to rest and drink. You suddenly realize how grossly dehydrated you have become. The man doesn't let you drink too much, but gives you a little, then beings to pour wine onto your open wounds - it stings - but you are thankful - you have seen infection kill - and you know what must be done.

All the while this man is speaking to you, telling you to rest now, that he will take care of you. In short order he cleans all your wounds, and even binds your ribs - a welcome gesture since it makes it much easier to breath. He manages to lift you onto his own donkey, and for the next hour you lay across his donkey - a painful, but welcome ride. The sun is down, and there is a light ahead on the road - an inn. You're not really sure where you are, but you hear the conversation between the man and the innkeeper -

"Sorry mister, we don't rent rooms to your kind - half breed"
"No no sir, you misunderstand me, not for me, but for this Jew I found on the road"
"Yes, please keep him clean and well fed, and see here, here is some money - I will come back soon and bring more money if you need it, only give him some clothes, and feed him for he is weak.
"Er, ah, okay."

Then the man with the accent, a Samaritan no less - left, and the innkeeper and his family take you, clean your bandages, set your broken bones, and put in a room by yourself to recover.

Two days later, the Samaritan is back, and true to his word, he pays your bills.

End of story.

The story not only identifies who our neighbor is (the guy who gets robbed) - it is also a picture of the love of God. Levites were set apart by God for religious service - and from amongst the Levites, the descendants of Aaron were given the priesthood. It ought to be clear, but the fact that the people who walked past the fellow both were representative of the religious caste, we take note - [1] religion didn't deliver the man from his situation.

Also we take note that the man who did help him, did so when the victim was utterly and absolutely unable to help himself - that is, [2] the victim did nothing to precipitate or assist the help he received.

I do believe that we are like that helpless traveller. Some of us think that religion can deliver us from our helplessness - but they are misguided - religion will not help us - it cannot help us.

We are left to accept that God has come to us, not because of any merit on our own part, and not because we flagged him down by our own effort - he came to ous and had mercy on us, and we did nothing of ourselves to instigate that mercy, nor can we do anything to perpetuate it. God has come to us, and had mercy on us when we are absolutely helpless to assist or precipitate such mercy. That is why it is called grace and mercy.

I believe these things, not simply because they are implied by this parable (for him who has eyes to see and ears to hear) - but because the rest of scripture echoes the teaching. When you look at that Samaritan being so kind, and selfless - I hope you see Christ in Him, and I hope see yourself as that "left for dead" Jew - it will do wonders for your understanding.
posted by Daniel @ 9:53 AM  
  • At 2:49 PM, September 22, 2006, Blogger Jim said…

    Daniel, I really enjoyed the embellishment of this story. You made this account quite graphic...I could almost taste the dust.

    As for your application, I think that one who has been humbled realizes their utter inability to save themselves.

    It is the proud who think they have somehow assisted in their salvation, and then we must question their basis for confidence. For we have no confidence in the flesh or any of its works.

    God bless,

  • At 2:04 PM, September 23, 2006, Blogger candy said…

    Wow. Daniel...what a touching way to illustrate this story. I have to admit that I was touched...mainly because my mother who passed away is like the man beaten on the road.

  • At 2:41 PM, September 23, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Candy - sorry to hear about your mom.

    When I think of that Samaritan helping the helpless, I am reminded that this was the character of God being put into the Samaritan so that we might see how God would act in the same situation. That is what our God looks like - the kind of person who would come and help the helpless - not because they deserve His help, but because He is merciful. We need to see God in scripture, not just what He commands, but what He is like.

    The wounded man represents all of us. Who among us has any hope against sin? We are beaten by it and left for dead - but God not only -can- heal us, he is even inclined by his own mercy to do so.

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