Who is the Good Samaritan?

The Rev. Chris Bowhay preached on Luke 10:25-37 yesterday, the too familiar parable of the Good Samaritan. It is the story of the man who was robbed, beaten and left for dead. A priest and a Levite both passed the man by, but it was the “Good” Samaritan who refused to walk by a man who was in need and instead was “moved with pity” to bandage his wounds and pay for his lodging until he was well again. Jesus told this story when asked by a lawyer, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” The story is so well-known that our secular society recognizes a “Good Samaritan” as one who is “a compassionate person who unselfishly helps others.” (Free Dictionary On-line)

The Rev. Bowhay suggested that we have been misinterpreting the story for years. Preachers usually admonish us to help those who are less fortunate, but by suggesting that we are measured by our good deeds, we are getting the cart before the horse. Our Life in Christ is not earned; our Love of God has to come into us before we can do anything good. Good deeds are just that, good deeds; but they are not our ticket to eternal life.

Since the fall of humanity we are unable to consistently love our neighbor or even ourselves on our own. Sins like pride, anger and judgment cause joy to constantly elude us. We think that we can do things that will make us happy, but we are wrong. We must constantly re-experience and admit our inability to perfectly love our neighbor and ourselves. Rev. Bowhay challenges us to look at the Gospel story with fresh eyes, “suppose that we are the wounded man and it is Jesus who is the Good Samaritan.”

 Van Gogh- The Good Samaritan- 1890

Van Gogh- The Good Samaritan- 1890

We strike out into the world, traveling alone and relying on our self and our self-centeredness. But self-centeredness is just another name for sin. We soon realize how dangerous it is to travel alone without God as we are soon robbed and beaten by the world and left to die.

But it is the Good Samaritan, God, who binds up our wounds, pours oil and wine on them and then takes us to the safety of His inn where we are protected. Regardless of the cost or the inconvenience in rescuing us, God makes sure that the innkeeper cares for us and pays all that we owe so that when we are healed, we are debt-free.

It is us who are travellers wounded by our own self-centeredness who need the grace and mercy of God. Only when we accept God’s grace and mercy can we serve others in a loving and not a self-serving way.

We are the wounded ones; Jesus is the Good Samaritan.

Blessings, my friend,

Agatha

(From a sermon by the Rev. Chris Bowhay at St. George’s Episcopal Church, Nashville, TN on July 14, 2013).

(click below for MP3 file)