Recently, I watched a documentary about someone who had fallen into a freezing harbor. The person was flailing and unable to climb out himself. A jogger at a distance had seen the movement in the water, and chose to investigate. When she reached the harbor’s edge, she realized it was a man in the freezing water, struggling to survive. She laid down, extending her arms to the man, trying with her might to pull him from the icy abyss. Realizing she was unable to lift him to safety, the jogger called 911. The paramedics arrived quickly and rescued the man. After medical care, thankfully, the man made a full recovery.
Had the jogger chosen to pass on by, the man likely would have died. As I reflect on that story, I ask myself, “Would I have stopped to help?” Of course, I like to think I would have… I’m pretty confident I would’ve helped, but I’ve never been in that exact scenario to know for sure.
There’s a similar story Jesus told, found in Luke 10:30-37, often titled “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.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
Jesus prefaced the parable of the Good Samaritan affirming we should love the Lord with all our heart, soul, strength and mind; and love our neighbor as ourselves (Luke 10:25-28). He then told this story to explain who our neighbors are. Through the story, Jesus displays that our neighbors are those in need of help, and He exhorts us to “do likewise.” In other words, to show mercy to those in need. That is how we love our neighbors.
The use of the characters in this parable confirm that no barrier of religion, politics, status, race, color, or any other difference should ever keep us from showing another mercy. Paul echoes the instruction of Jesus, admonishing us to please our neighbors for their good; to not seek our own good, but that of our neighbors; and that love does no wrong to neighbors.
We may never walk down a road and see someone beaten and robbed. We probably won’t be jogging along a body of water and see someone drowning. But, all of us will see many others in need during our lifetimes. We probably even know of someone today. How will we respond? Will we judge the person in need? Will we examine our position or relationship first, and then walk on by? Or, will we choose to extend our hands in love, showing mercy and compassion?
Can we allow God to display His love through us to others – to help them in their very present time of need? Jesus said we shall live as we do. After all, blessed are those who go in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
Holding Fast to Hope,