Based on Biblical Text Luke 10:30 (KJV)
And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his rainment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead”
Interestingly, for a very short period of time this week, I had a couple of minutes to myself. During that brief interlude, I found a moment or two to read the newspaper. I found page after page of not-so-good news. Story after story indicated that, as a people, we generally are not very nice to one another. However, I did stumble across a story or two that let me know all is not lost. Satan is as busy as ever, but there are still some “Good Samaritans” left in this world.
Satan is still in the business of destroying every one of us. It appears he keeps a list of our names and his top priority is to bring us down and cause us to wallow in our own misery. His job is to cause us to forego our claims as heirs to the throne of Grace. To that end he remains vigilant in his quest to deter us from the path of righteousness. Using his skills as a master psychologis,t he knows where each of our weaknesses lies. He is by his own admission, “going to and fro, seeking whom he may devour” from his list of “would be Saints.” My Grandmother used to warn me that, if you are not on his list, he may already have you where he wants you.
It is a good idea, every now and then, just to pause for a moment to ponder. Has Satan bothered you lately, tempting you with evil thoughts? If not, you could be in trouble. If Satan never tempts you, it could be that he already has you — lock, stock, and barrel. Satan is in the business of destroying God’s children. He has been very successful at his job from the time in the Garden of Eden when he got to Adam and Eve causing them to fall. He has not missed a day on the job ever since.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan represents a four-fold portrayal of some profound Biblical truths. First, there are the thieves who rob and then beat an innocent man half to death representing Satan’s success in causing mankind to fall. Secondly, there is the man lying in the ditch on the side of the road, bleeding, suffering and totally helpless, representing man’s total inability to save himself. Next, there is the priest and the Levite representing organized religion, with the Law and the prophets and their ineffectiveness in dealing with the sin problem and man’s fatal fall. Finally, we find the Good Samaritan representing Jesus Christ, who is the only One who is able to pick us up out of the gutter of sin and restore our spiritual well being.
The text says there was an innocent man, minding his own business, trying to make his way to the house with his hard-earned wages. Out of the bushes comes some lazy “misguided souls” who don’t feel the need to earn their own wages. They bushwhack the man, beat him up, take his money and leave him in a ditch at the side of the road to die, alone.
No doubt, that was the work of Satan who specializes in getting into the minds of greedy people and causing them to believe that they are entitled to prosper taking the profit of somebody else’s labor. The newspaper chronicles the mounting crime in our communities. Certainly, Satan is at work there, having a field day. We find, in our own neighborhoods, people who have been robbed, beaten and left half dead.
The innocent man lay in the ditch, half dead, waiting for someone to come to his rescue. The first person to happen by was the priest. I can only imagine that the man must have thought he was in luck; however, the priest, upon hearing his desperate plea, ignored the helpless man and crossed over to the other side of the road.
Before we condemn him, I wonder how many times we have crossed the street to avoid a begging, homeless man who is crying out for someone to deliver him from his predicament. Was the priest, like some of us, too busy with the affairs of his own life to be concerned about the needs of another? The text doesn’t say, but maybe the priest said a quick prayer. Maybe he called out to the man and promised to report the incident to the authorities. It could be that he made an entry on his iPhone intending to bring up the man’s needs to the Church Conference. Perhaps he planned to appoint a committee on crime and commission them to research the problem of muggings in the area.
I may be exaggerating a little. Or am I? That is, in far too many instances, the way the hierarchy of our churches deal with the problems of society. Instead of a cure, we seek to analyze. God bless those who quickly and effectively come to the aid of the distressed without first holding a board meeting to discuss and analyze the need and voting on whether or not the need meets the criteria to lend a hand.
Next to come down the road to pass the man was a Levite. The man must have been thinking, this could be my help. A “Churchman,” a man of church authority, a ranking laymen — a Steward or Trustee of sorts. This was a man who held a position of honor and responsibility in the church. Surely, he was not too busy to stop and help a dying man.
The Levite, just like the priest before him, passed by on the other side of the road. It could have been that the Levite called out to the dying man and assured him that he understood what the man was going through. The Levite could have very well let the dying man know that he loved him and would pray for him. He was perhaps even apologetic for his inability to provide assistance without the approval of the Official Board and the church congregation. Perhaps he promised the man that he would take his case before the congregation, and try as best he could to persuade them to vote yes on his proposal to help the man out of his predicament.
Sound ridiculous? Maybe, but isn’t that some times what we do? Far too often we find ourselves so caught up in rules governing the disbursement of God’s money, that we delay its benefit to those who really need it. We convene meetings to argue the pros and cons of spending God’s money where it is needed. We form sub-committees to draft elaborate proposals and schedule a time convenient for us to meet again to vote. While we attend to the “Principals of Parliamentary Law,” our brother or sister is lying in a ditch, dying. In the interest of democracy we opt instead of pointing people to Jesus Christ, to appoint committees to deal with crisis.
The text says after lying there a little while longer, the wounded man heard some more footsteps. No doubt by this time discouraged and disappointed he didn’t expect much. But, when the Samaritan heard his cry, he rushed over to his side, saw the predicament that man was in, and was moved to compassion. He didn’t hold an office in the church. He didn’t work with a committee. Instead, he used some of his own resources. Without asking any questions, he mended the man’s wounds as best he could, lifted the man on to his own donkey and carried him to a nearby hospital. The Samaritan stayed with the man through the night until he was sure that he would be all right. Then, he paid the hospital bill and promised to pay any additional expenses when he returned.
The Samaritan didn’t engage in dialogue, didn’t appoint a committee, didn’t write a lengthy proposal, and didn’t organize a fundraising drive. The Samaritan had compassion. He went to work, coming to the man’s rescue.
The man who was robbed and beaten represents every one of us who has or ever will walk this earth. The Jericho road represents the road of life that every one of us must travel. The robber represents Satan, who is always on his job, going to and fro, seeking whom he may devour. The Priest and the layman represent man’s ignorance of God, and the Good Samaritan represents Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, the solution for what ails us.
Somebody may be suffering from low self-esteem because you have been beaten by circumstances beyond your control. Maybe you have been forced to tolerate a boss who refuses to pay you a fair wage for the excellent service you provide. Perhaps you have been victimized by a lifetime of unfair treatment, a wayward spouse, disobedient children, or poor health. You are feeling beaten down and beat up.
There is only One who can help when we have beaten down by “this business we call life.” There is only One who is able to reach down and pick us up when we find ourselves “left for dead.” That One is Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God. He has heard our cries for help and has walked that lonely road for us, carrying an old rugged cross. He has paid the full fare for our redemption. If we cry out to Him, He will reach out and lift us up from sin and despair.
As we approach the Sabbath
Sunday, April 5, 2014, is the Fifth Sunday in Lent.
Join our Worship Experience at 10:00 am.
Church School begins at 8:45 am.
Scripture Lesson for this Sunday
Ezekiel 37:1-3, Ezekiel 37:11-14
There is a Word from the Lord!
Sermon Text: John 4:29
Sermon Title: Come See a Man!