Are we the good Samaritan? Or the robber?

Are we the good Samaritan? Or the robber? We are all one or the other. There’s no saying that we’ve never been in the scenario Jesus painted. Because we’re in. Right now. Every. Single. one. of. us. Everyone!

Are we the good Samaritan?  Or the robber?

Look at the image. Are we the child? Or are we the person responsible for the man being on the bench?

In other words, are we the Good Samaritan? Or the Robber?

And did you notice the image of the person on the wall?

We’ll get into why that statement’s true in a moment. But first, just in case someone’s not familiar with the Parable of the Good Samaritan, here it is.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

10:25-28 pp — Mt 22:34-40; Mk 12:28-31

Lk 10:25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Lk 10:26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
Lk 10:27 He answered: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’’”
Lk 10:28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
Lk 10:29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Lk 10:30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
Lk 10:36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
Lk 10:37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Are we the good Samaritan? Or the robber?

Let’s go back to the picture.

There’s a homeless person on a bench.

That homeless person – he’s not there because of anything he did. That man is the person who got robbed in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. For this topic today, he represents all the people who have lost their jobs because of COVID. Their homes. People whose lives have fallen apart because family members died from COVID and there wasn’t anyone to help them cope. In other words, he represents everyone whose lives have been ripped apart by COVID.

They didn’t do anything wrong. Their lives were destroyed because someone else caught COVID. More on that in a moment.

The thing is, unless you, the reader, is that man on the bench, you don’t get to choose him as a representative of who you are. You are either the child or one of the people responsible for that man being on the bench.

There’s a child in the picture.

The child represents the Good Samaritan. The child is everyone who has helped the man on the bench. There are so many ways we can help. Donate time and / or money to various charities that help feed the people represented by the man on the bench. Help out charities that counsel those who are in danger of ending up on the bench because they can’t deal with what’s happened to their family. Or, if you’re qualified, be one of the counselors. All sorts of opportunities are out there for us.

There’s no robber in the picture.

There’s the robber, although he’s already fled the scene. That’s why he’s not in the picture. But so many of us are the robber! We refuse to wear a mask. Or to social distance. We insist it’s our constitutional right to do whatever we want to do. Maybe we don’t think about it, but our actions may very well make us a robber.

Robbing the job from the man on the bench, because our refusal to follow advice from the medical professionals has led to the incredible number of COVID cases. Hospitalizations. Deaths. Lost jobs. And on and on.

There are two other people missing from the picture.

Think a moment. Who are the two missing people? Can you figure it out?

Got it?

They are those of us representing the Priest and the Levite. No – it doesn’t matter if we aren’t religious leaders. It doesn’t even matter if we’re not religious people. Because the bottom line is that we see what’s happening around the world. In our own country. In our own cities. Even among our friends, if not our families. And yet, we ignore all of it. We still insist on our alleged constitutional right to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. Even if it comes at the expense of someone else’s happiness, liberty, or even their life!

Who else is in the picture?

Do you see who else is in the picture?

There’s a face on the wall. You probably saw that. But did you notice something peculiar about that face?

To see what I mean, look at the street, directly below the face. Do you see it? Or rather, do you not see it?

There’s no reflection!

The face isn’t really on the wall. If it was, there would be a reflection.

The face reflects Jesus. He’s there. He’s here. Everywhere. But we can’t literally see Him. And yet, Jesus sees us. Jesus sees everything.

So who’s who? Are we the good Samaritan? Or the robber?

What if we are the man on the bench?

Jesus knows the man on the bench. He grieves for that man. After all, that man was the person robbed in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. If you are the person on the bench, know that Jesus loves you. But also know, Jesus sees those who walk by you. And He sees those that help you.

If you, the person on the bench, are Christian, it’s important to remember Jesus’ love for you. If you’re not Christian, I pray three things. First, that someone will help you. Second that a Christian reaches out to you – or that you find a way to reach out to a Christian. And third, that when the chance comes, you decide to become a Christian.

I know it probably seems odd, but the truth is, many of us have to be broken in order to be saved. When we hit bottom, we can either give up, or cry out for help. Please – cry out for help. If God doesn’t answer, cry out louder! If it appears that God’s not answering, cry out louder! I once told Him – “You’re going to have to hit me upside my head, because I’m just not getting whatever you’re trying to tell me!”

Yes, it’s OK to do that. He already knows we’re thinking it, so why not say it to Him? He can take it! And, it shows we believe in Him, we believe He can do something about our situation. Maybe most importantly, it shows we trust God. Consider the excerpt below from R. C. Sproul:

Now, if someone were to say to me, “Why did God allow this to happen?” the only honest answer I could give would be “I don’t know.” I can’t read God’s mind. I don’t know that it was an act of judgment. On the other hand, I can’t think of anything in the Christian worldview that would rule out the possibility that it was an act of judgment. It is clear in Scripture that God has brought calamities on nations as an act of judgment from time to time, but it is impossible to know whether the events of September 11 were, in fact, His judgment for He has not told us. Now, if you were to ask me whether God was involved, I would say yes, because I’m committed to the Christian doctrine of providence. I’m convinced that God was involved in this event and that it happened according to His purpose. But what the specific purpose was, I have no idea.

The bottom-line assumption for anyone who believes in the God of providence is that ultimately there are no tragedies. God has promised that all things that happen—all pain, all suffering, all tragedies—are but for a moment, and that He works in and through these events for the good of those who love Him (Rom. 8:28). That’s why the apostle Paul said that the pain, the suffering, the affliction that we bear in this world isn’t worthy to be compared, isn’t worthy to be mentioned in the same breath, with the glory and the blessedness that God has stored up for His people (Rom. 8:18).  [1]Sproul, R. C. (2010). Surprised by Suffering: The Role of Pain and Death in the Christian Life (pp. 43–44). Lake Mary, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing.

Note especially, The bottom-line assumption for anyone who believes in the God of providence is that ultimately there are no tragedies. God has promised that all things that happen—all pain, all suffering, all tragedies—are but for a moment, and that He works in and through these events for the good of those who love Him.

Compared to an eternity with God, where there will be no tears, no suffering, no fears, whatever we go through in this life is for such a short amount of time. After some failed attempts at suicide, I’m very happy to be alive to say this right now. Because, had I succeeded, I honestly don’t know whether I would have gone to Heaven or to Hell. I very much fear, it would have been the latter.

So for the person on the bench, even if everyone walks by, God is watching. And Jesus has a place for you, if you’re willing to trust Him:

Jesus Comforts His Disciples

Jn 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”

What if we are the child – and if we’re Christian?

If we are the child, and if we’re Christian, we have hopefully done something Jesus spoke about. Notice though, I said “hopefully”.

The Greatest Commandment – Matthew

22:34-40 pp — Mk 12:28-31

Mt 22:34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Mt 22:37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Why did I say hopefully we’ve done something Jesus spoke of? Well, it’s because of verse 37. As Christians we should love God with all our heart, soul and mind! We should, but we don’t always do it. When we get to the point where it’s hard to tell if we love God with all our heart, soul and mind – then a question arises. Are we really Christian?

If we don’t love God like that, then the absence of fulfilling the first of the Greatest Commandments means we also cannot actually fulfill the second either. Without love for God, rather than giving God the glory for what we’ve done, we’re more likely to claim it for ourselves. Circumstances tend to indicate that we’re not truly Christian.

What if we are the child – and if we’re not Christian?

Honestly, if you are helping others, but we’re not Christian, then I have one more question. Do you help to make yourself look good, or do you help because something inside of you is urging you to help? I submit that, if it’s the latter, that something inside of you may very well be the Holy Spirit of God. Therefore, I also encourage you to check out Christianity as well.

Something for the child – Christian or not

Here’s a passage that speaks to the child, whether we be Christian or not. Even many non-Christians know of the Lord’s Prayer. This passage from Luke isn’t the one that’s used, but it does contain portions of it. For your reference, the Lord’s Prayer comes from Matthew 6:5-15. For this topic, the relevant portion of the passage starts at verse 5 below.

Jesus’ Teaching on Prayer

11:2-4 pp — Mt 6:9-13
11:9-13 pp — Mt 7:7-11

Lk 11:1 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

Lk 11:2 He said to them, “When you pray, say:
“ ‘Father,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.

Lk 11:3 Give us each day our daily bread.

Lk 11:4 Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.’ ”

Lk 11:5 Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6 because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’

Lk 11:7 “Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.

Lk 11:9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Lk 11:11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

So here’s the thing about those verses.

  1. If we’re the child. and we’re Christian, and we truly are doing our best to follow Jesus’ teachings, then this verse lets us know that God can and will work through us even more than we are now. More than we can imagine.
  2. If we’re the child, and we’re Christian, and we aren’t really living a very Christian life, Jesus is reminding us that with His help, through the Holy Spirit, we can live the life He has planned for us.
  3. If we’re the child, and we’re not Christian, Jesus is telling us that if we ask, genuinely ask, the door will be opened. The life of the person in the first bullet is available to all who ask.
If we are the robber – Christian or not

If we are the robber, we certainly aren’t following what Jesus gave as the second part of The Greatest Commandment.

And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Non-Christians probably know this as the golden rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Although, some of us may have learned the variant that my father used to live by – do unto others before they do unto you. That is not what Jesus said. Nor is it the golden rule. In fact, it’s part of the reason the guy on the bench exists.

Of course, the Parable of the Good Samaritan was meant specifically for someone who wants to follow Jesus. Clearly, the robber isn’t following it. So for the Christian who is represented by the robber, we are telling Jesus, “No, I refuse to do that!” We know from the encounter of the Rich Young Man how that worked out.

The Rich Young Man – Mark

10:17-31 pp — Mt 19:16-30; Lk 18:18-30

Mk 10:17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Mk 10:18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’’”
Mk 10:20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
Mk 10:21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Mk 10:22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Mk 10:23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
Mk 10:24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
Mk 10:26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
Mk 10:27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
Mk 10:28 Peter said to him, “We have left everything to follow you!”
Mk 10:29 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

It didn’t work at all. The young man just walked away, because he wouldn’t do what Jesus said was required for him. Note, I wrote “for him”. While money is an issue for many of us, it’s not always money that Jesus will ask us to give up. It could be anything that stands in the way between us and Jesus.

But notice something else. Check out verse 21. Jesus looked at the young man and “loved him”. Yes, even knowing that He was about to be rejected, Jesus still loved this person. And even when we reject Jesus, He still loves us. That does not mean we’re saved, in spite of the fact that we rejected Jesus. It does mean that Jesus is still there, and will still accept us when we turn back to Him and say “Yes” to His commandments. Even if we’re the robber.

What if we’re one of the two missing people?

Remember, the two missing people represent the ones who see the man on the bench, who see the lives affected by COVID, and refuse to do anything to help any of them.

Even Christians can fit in here too. Christians, just like anyone else, can just walk away. Do nothing. The Bible speaks to those Christians who are represented by the two missing men. For instance, see the passage below.

Faith and Deeds

Jas 2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Jas 2:18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

Jas 2:20 You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

Jas 2:25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Christians may very well assume that we all are full of faith.  Full of the Holy Spirit.  Saved, no matter what.  But that’s not what James is saying here!

We need to read carefully.  James is not saying that deeds, doing good things, will save us.  Or that every “good” thing we do indicates the presence or growth of faith.  Not at all.

What James is saying is that the good things we do should come because of our faith.  Not to gain faith.  

Further, James is saying that so-called faith that doesn’t result in any good deeds isn’t really faith at all.  At best, it’s dead faith.

However, having said that, Jesus is still there, waiting for us to return to Him.  To trust Him.  To have faith in Him.  A faith that is capable of driving good deeds.

Back to the face on the wall.

As mentioned earlier, Jesus sees everything. He knows who we really are. We are capable of deceiving ourselves. But we cannot fool Jesus. As Christians, we should be asking Him how He sees us. Even something beyond that. Let’s look at something David wrote to examine that thought.

Psalm 139

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

Ps 139:1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.

Ps 139:2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

Ps 139:3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

Ps 139:4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.

Ps 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Ps 139:24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

As Christians, we should pray those verses above on a regular basis. Of course, God knows us better than we do. He knows what we’re going to do even before we do it. To me, the additional part that we need to do is pray that last verse.

Ps 139:24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

We really should ask God to tell us about the things that may be interfering with our relationship with Him. It’s like, fine – God knows what we do. But that knowledge only helps us if we also know it. Further, if we do something about it!

Us not knowing what’s causing problems can do no good whatsoever.

But even if we do know, but we refuse to do anything to correct the problems, that’s also not going to help. Asking for the information, but not using it, is pointless!

Conclusion – Are we the good Samaritan? Or the robber?

Ultimately, no matter which of the people in the picture represents us, the letter from Jesus to the Church in Laodicea, from Revelation, has something to say to us. Here’s how it goes for each of the people in, or missing from, the picture:

  • the person on the bench – the one who’s suffering. The one who people do, or do not, help.
  • a child – someone who helps. If the person is Christian, it’s the person who is hot. Who really wants Jesus.
  • the robber – the ones responsible for the things that led to the COVID related events leading to the person being on the bench. In many ways, the one who is cold. Who rejects Jesus’ teachings. Even if the robber is claiming to be Christian, they can still be the robber!
  • two missing people – the ones who walked by and did nothing. They are the lukewarm people Jesus speaks of in the letter. They really don’t care about Jesus, one way or the other.
To the Church in Laodicea

Rev 3:14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

Rev 3:19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

Rev 3:21 To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Do you see what I mean? They’re all in there. You are in there. The question is, which one is you?

If you don’t see it, I encourage you to use the comment form below to ask questions.


Image by AD_Images from Pixabay


References

References
1 Sproul, R. C. (2010). Surprised by Suffering: The Role of Pain and Death in the Christian Life (pp. 43–44). Lake Mary, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing.

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