If you were raised in a Christian home like me, you probably heard the story of the Good Samaritan 100 times. Last week, our Pastor Christian Andrews started a sermon series that kicked off with the story of the Good Samaritan. Just in case you forgot the specifics of the story, here they are, as found in the Gospel of Luke (NIV):
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?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
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.’ “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by 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, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii 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.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Who Are You In This Story?
When I heard the story of the Good Samaritan in the past, I always saw myself in the role of the Good Samaritan. I interpreted the story as a reminder to help others. I looked at the story as a parable that illustrates how we must show Christ’s love to others, even when it was not convenient or if it has a cost.
Did you see yourself in the story in the same way as I did?
However, when Pastor Christian Andrews shared this story at Park Church last Sunday, it was different. He said that as Christians, we are also like the man who was beaten, robbed, and lying on the road half-dead. The man had no ability to save himself. Without the help of the Good Samaritan, the man would have surely died.
Then it hit me. I was the man lying on the road in need.
Jesus saved me and paid my debt with his life. For the first time, I saw myself as the man on the road. I would have surely died if Jesus didn’t come to me and save me.
How Did I Get It Wrong?
Pride. I have always been a hard worker and someone who wants to fix things. I have had times in my life of great success. I have also recovered from a time when I lost everything. I try to make the best of things and stay positive despite adversity.
I also try to help others and to be generous, like the Good Samaritan. I have been blessed with a great family and circle of friends.
But in need? That’s where my weakness is. I don’t like to feel that I am in need of help. I like to be self-sufficient. Maybe a few readers can identify with this perspective.
But last week, when Christian shared the story, I couldn’t help but ask God for forgiveness for my pride. I didn’t want to see myself as the person on the side of the road. Accepting that image would mean that I would have to acknowledge my utter need for God’s help in ALL that I do.
You see, even though I accepted Christ into my life 35+ years ago, I needed to be reminded that my own strength is insufficient to save me or sustain me. Each day that we forget this truth, we are like the man, left to die along the roadside, we miss an opportunity to reconnect with the love of God.
Thank you Christian for opening my eyes to look at this parable in a new light. Thank you Jesus for being the Good Samaritan and paying my debt.
If you live in the Monmouth County area, join me at Park Church for this exciting new series. Here is a quick overview: