Written by: David Judge
The term, Good Samaritan, is familiar to most people even if they’ve never cracked open the Bible to the Gospel of Luke where the parable is found. In that passage of chapter 10, Jesus is asked what one must do to inherit eternal life.
Quoting from Deuteronomy and Leviticus, respectively, Jesus 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.’”
The questioner seeking to justify his own understanding and actions then asked Jesus to clarify the second part of the answer; “Who is my neighbor?” With that, Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan.
For those unfamiliar with the story, a man, presumably a Jew, is walking down a road from Jerusalem when he is attacked by bandits. They beat him, rob him and leave him for dead on the side of the road. Along comes a priest, someone the hearer of the parable would expect to lend aid to the injured man, but instead he crosses over to the other side of the road and passes by. Next, a Levite, a religious man who serves in the Temple, approaches, but he too crosses the street and passes by on the other side.
But then, along comes a Samaritan. Now, to understand the story you must realize that the Jews and Samaritans were historic enemies. Of all the people we would expect to cross the street and leave the Jew to die on the side of the road, it is the Samaritan.
Yet, that is where the story gets its depth and meaning. It is the Samaritan, not the priest or the Levite, who binds the man’s wounds, transports him to safety and pays the expenses of his recovery.
The moral of the story is that everyone is your neighbor and in the eyes of God your responsibility to care for your neighbor in need is greater than any theological, social or political difference you may have.
And so, it has always been this way with works of charity and compassion. Today, we find local ministries, places of worship, and civic organizations giving of themselves to care for the needs of others. Moreover, thousands of dedicated first responders and health care professionals continue to put themselves and their families at risk to serve, protect and care for those in need. All the while, not even one is qualifying who gets aid and who does not based on presumptions, preconceptions, or prejudice.
Our differences are vast and significant, but our commonality as human beings created in the image and likeness of God is greater.
When the COVID-19 pandemic is long past and we look back in hindsight at the efforts put forth to manage the crisis, I hope that special appreciation is given to those listed above. Not that they seek it, but that they have earned it.
Rev. David Judge is the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Cornelius. He lives in Cornelius with his wife, Christy and his four younger children. Rev. Judge earned his Master of Divinity at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC and his Masters of Business Administration at the University of Houston, TX.