Most of us are familiar with the teaching of Jesus about the man that we have come to call “The Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:30-37). It came about after He was asked by a lawyer what was the greatest command of Scripture. His answer was to love God above all else and to love your neighbor as yourself. The lawyer then “wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” The Master Teacher then related this beautiful story.
In short, a man (we assume of a Jewish descent) was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho and attacked by robbers. He was stripped, wounded and left to die. In time a priest and Levite passed by, men most likely to help him, but they didn’t. Then a Samaritan passed by, a man most unlikely to help him (John 4:9), but he did. Jesus concluded by asking the lawyer, “So which of the three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” “He who showed mercy on him,” the lawyer replied. Jesus commanded, “Go and do likewise” (vv. 36, 37).
Being a “Good Samaritan” has become synonymous with anyone doing any good, even the smallest of deeds, for someone else. Of course, “doing good” in any way is a wonderful practice that reflects the life of Jesus (cf. Acts 10:38). But when we consider the circumstances of the story Jesus told, we also see that being a “Good Samaritan” can be challenging in everyday life. It may even require us to move out of our comfort zone. Following is an example of what I mean.
In 1964, there was a lady named Catherine Genovese who was returning to her apartment after her night job in New York City. Sadly, she was met by a knife-wielding assailant who stabbed her multiple times. Her screams apparently frightened him away momentarily. However, when no one came to her rescue, he returned and continued the assault until she died.
Later the police investigation revealed that thirty-eight neighbors had witnessed at least part of the attack- - but no one helped her or even called the police until it was too late. Why? Were there no “Good Samaritans” to be found among the neighbors? Or could it be that being a “Good Samaritan” in this situation carried a price tag that they did not want to pay?
The Samaritan of Luke 10 was willing to “do good” even when it was not easy or convenient. Are we willing to “Go and do likewise?”