The story of the good Samaritan begins by saying, “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho.” Jesus is careful to say, “A certain man” and not just any man…because He wants us to know that He knows the man and we also know the man.
The man Jesus is talking about is Adam…Adam who represents mankind… Adam who represents you and me
Adam as we know sinned against God and fell or “went down…”
So the first thing we must recognize in that in telling this story of a man who “…went down from Jerusalem to Jericho…” Jesus was simply telling His Disciples and us the story of mankind. The story of our fall from grace…and how we are restored to salvation.
Jerusalem was the city of God’s dwelling place, a place of great blessing. This describes Adam’s state before he sinned. As we recall from Genesis…he lived in the presence of God…and was in a place of great blessing.
But before long he started down the road to Jericho…which as scripture says in Joshua 6:26 was a cursed place.
Now while he was on his way he was attacked by thieves who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
The devil deceived him into eating the apple…and in that instance…he and Eve were stripped of their relationship of grace with God…a curse was placed upon them, where because they were now conscious of sin they both lost their privilege of eternal life in the physical…and risked eternal damnation of their souls. In other words Adam and Eve were left half dead…dying physically from that day on with a guarantee that they would return as dust to the earth.
This is why Jesus said that, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…” John 10:10
In this story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus is tells us three things that happen when we fall victim to devil…
First…he steal from us…just like the robbers stripped the man of his clothes…he strips us of our dignity…of our covering…and tries to take us from under the protection of the Holy Spirit
Second…He wounds us…just like they beat the man. Before long we find ourselves living a life of shame…indulging in behaviours and substances that will surely lead to our physical death and may even lead to the death of eternal death.
And finally…he leaves us poor, sick, broken…or as Jesus put it…half dead. Neglected by those we love…shunned by those who we were once popular with.
The story then says two people came by…the first was a priest…and as Jesus tells it he, “…happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.” Luke 10:31.
In other words he wasn’t looking for this wounded man…he was only by chance coming that way. That priest in this story represents religion.
The second man was a Levite…an interpreter of the law…he also came by, saw the man and “…passed by on the other side.” That Levite represents the law
The reason Jesus included these two gentlemen in the story was not to say anything about them…but to tell us that neither religion nor the law can save us.
Religion can never meet the real needs of man… James 2:14 says, “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?”
There’s nothing wrong with praising and worshiping God…but if we have no love or compassion for one another…if we gossip and backbite, if we have un-forgiveness and bitterness in our hearts…then we are just being religious…but we have no love in us.
When we are religious…our faith is without works and so when it sees the suffering of man…when it sees Adam as a man standing on the roadside…clearly sick and begging for money for medical attention…our faith look away.
Or when it sees Adam as a little girl with a tattered uniform thrown out of school for lack of school fees… our religion walks on by. It does not stop to help…because its focus is like that of the priest…to praise and worship God.
Then there is the Levite…the one who is obedient but has no compassion.
He represents those of us who have been so turned off by the religious nature of the church and its priests that our argument is that we are obedient to God. We do what God has asked…we abide by the law…by scripture…by the Bible. And so we circumzise our sons on the 8th day and we keep the sabath holy.
But you see that same law is the reason the Levite walked past the dying man because in Leviticus 21:11, the law (our Bible) says, “He must not go near any dead body or make himself unclean, even for his father or mother.” You see he had no way of knowing whether the man was dead…so to save himself and be obedient to God…he just walked on.
But the proper thing to do would have been to have compassion on the man despite the law…
That is why on the day that Jesus was queried as to why his Disciples were picking grain on the Sabbath, he retorted by saying, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” In other words…think and feel. Where the circumstance demands that you throw away the law for love…by all means throw it out and love.
The question Jesus was asked, which ultimately led to Him telling this story…it the same question as “What is the greatest commandment?” And when He was asked that question, He did not say keep the Sabbath Holy, neither did He say make sure you don’t eat meat sacrifices to other gods. What He said was that we should love…love God and love our neighbour.
But because the law has no space for love…it cannot meet the needs of mankind so it too passed by on the other side of the road and left the man…left Adam…left you and me lying on the side of the road.
“But [then] a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.” Luke 10:33 “
The Samaritan in this story is Jesus.
The Samaritans were a mixed breed of Jew and gentile (a Gentile is anyone who is not of the Jewish faith)…here we could say they were “half-cast” and as we all know Jesus was only half Jewish…His mother was Jewish but His father was God who we cannot define…so Jesus is indeed a Samaritan.
When the Samaritan came down the road…His response showed the distinction between Jesus and the religion…the distinction between Jesus and the law.
You see both the religion and the law want us to come to them. If the man had been on his feet and walking, the priest and the Levite would have dealt with him…but as long as He had a problem…they didn’t want to know Him.
Often we as a church treat each other like that. When we are most broken and hurt by scandalous affairs, by alcoholism, by broken marriages…that is when the church rejects us…and often the basis of that rejection is scripture itself…the law.
Religion has little compassion…and the law only cares that we live up to its standard…outside of that we are as good as dead.
But Jesus the Samaritan came to where the half dead man was. When He saw him He had compassion on him…and that compassion is demonstrated by what He did next.
Luke 10:34 says, “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.”
The first thing He did was bandage his wounds. He met his need. Compassion meets needs.
That’s what Jesus does for us. When we are in trouble He doesn’t abandon us. Neither does He chastise us and give us a rundown of all the rules we have broken and how we should have known better. He simply meets the need that we cannot meet in our own strength.
Next he poured on the injured man the oil of baptism and the wine of receiving of the Holy Spirit. That is what Christ does for us when He finds us in trouble. He begins to heal not just our body but also our soul.
The next thing the Samaritan does was to set him on His own animal. The animal speaks of strength.
After we have been saved from sickness in our bodies and our minds we need the strength of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus told his followers in Acts 1:8 that they would receive power after the Holy Spirit came upon them.
The Holy Spirit represented by the donkey then took the wounded man to the inn. The inn in this scripture represents the church…and this is where today the church has failed Jesus in many ways.
Verse 35 says our Lord the Samaritan said, “Look after him…”
This tells us that the church is a place for wounded people.
But today so many churches do not want the wounded…they only want the fit and wealthy.
But church is where the wounded belong…You know that dirty, dreadlocks guy who is constantly walking around aimlessly on this compound…I happen to know he’s a graduate of prestigious school in Ghana, but somewhere on his walk from Jerusalem to Jericho…armed robbers got to him and so he is the man laying on the side of the road. And the fact that none of us reach out to him speaks to the fact that we are the priests and levites who keep walking past him. But where he belongs is in this church.
There are so many people who are hurt and angry, bitter and practically crazy from the misfortunes of this life…they belong in this church and I believe that the Holy Spirit…the Samaritan’s own donkey is leading many people back to church in these last days…and the church needs to be ready to minister them…not reject them and make them feel unwelcome
The story of the Good Samaritan has a very simple message…and it is this. Jesus is the Good Samaritan…He is our lord and He has made provision for us.
It doesn’t matter what kind of mess we have made of our lives. He has already seen it and the provision…the oil and wine…is there waiting on us today.
We can’t mess our life up too much for God to fix.
All we have to do is confess it. All we have to do invite others to confess their sin. Romans 10:9-10 tells us, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Today, Jesus is walking up and down that road from Jerusalem to Jericho…looking for us. He knows those who have walked passed us…our friends, our family, even our church and He is saying, “I know the devil comes only to steal and kill and destroy…but there is hope…take heart I am with you and I will save you…”
This is the promise of the second Adam…let us look to Him, invite Him into our lives and know that no matter our state today…no matter where we are on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho…no matter who has rejected us…even if it’s the church…we can be saved.
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.