By Teresa Poucher
We are all familiar with the story of the Good Samaritan, found in Luke 10:30-37… “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho…” On a map, Jericho is northeast of Jerusalem, yet the elevation of Jerusalem is much higher. Jericho is 846 ft.below sea level and Jerusalem is 2474 ft. above sea level, making it a 3320 ft descent. The journey, whether going up or down, would prove to be very difficult. The change in weather and altitude alone would be difficult. The road was very narrow, and its 18 mile trek begins at the Mount of Olives.
In Joshua 15:7, we read of Adummim, meaning “Ascent of Blood.” Adummim is an ancient town in Judea, on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho. Some ancient writers have ascribed the name’s origin to the spilling of blood by robbers and highwaymen, but one was also sure to encounter cliffs along the way so whichever interpretation is preferred, it was a very risky trek, a journey one must endure.
Our story states the man fell among thieves. He wasn’t looking for them or hanging out with them – they overpowered him. He was stripped of his raiment, left in shame, and exposed to the elements. He was robbed of his necessities and of anything of value, including a weapon to ward off wild animals or thieves. He was severely wounded and left almost dead.
“By chance, there came down a certain priest…” (someone we might expect to offer help) but he passes on the other side, maybe so the man couldn’t see him. We don’t know if he was unconscious, or if his eyes swelled shut, just that he is half dead. Possibly he doesn’t have enough strength to see or cry for help.
The scripture continues, “likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side…” Surely the Levite would do something, but he walked by also. Yet the scripture says he “looked” — not just a glance, but he considered, perceived, and understood. He also passed around the wounded, abused, and neglected man and abandoned him as well.
Yet the Samaritan, someone the religious world called “the low life,” “the worthless, good for nothing” is on his journey, a mission so to speak. He has a beast to carry his load.
The Levite came and looked but the Samaritan came where the man was. Maybe he too had been wounded, robbed, and left for dead sometime in the past and had also been passed over and neglected.
Yet this Samaritan has compassion, looks over his lack of clothes, bandages his wounds, pours in the oil and wine (the love of God’s Spirit), and sets him on his beast. Leaving his load — a burden, so to speak, that he must carry — he brings him to an inn and stays and cares for him that night. He leaves him in the care of the innkeeper with what we understand to be two days wages. He then tells the innkeeper he will come again and repay him for any additional costs.
Jesus tells us this story because a lawyer of the mosaic law asked, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus asked, “What is written in the law? Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.”
Do I love my neighbor? Do I have compassion like the Samaritan? Maybe I need to humble myself so I can lift someone up. Am I too busy, or am I too holy? God WILL use someone — will it be me?