MAY 2004 CALENDAR ARTICLE
OUR THEME THIS YEAR:
Serving God with Humility and Love
The “Other Side” of the Jericho Road
by Wayne Anderson
A study of the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-38) offers lessons from two other individuals, who did not receive commendations from the Lord. These were the priest and the Levite, each of whom saw the injured victim and made the conscious decision not to help the man but to pass by on the other side of the road. The victim had been robbed, beaten, stripped and left half dead. Why would anyone leave another in such dire straits?
Both priests and Levites were descendants of Levi (Genesis 29:34), the third son of Jacob (Israel). Priestly duties were given to the family of Aaron as a hereditary responsibility. Levites performed other and ongoing religious duties in the temple and on special occasions, usually beginning full-time service at about age thirty. Thus the priests and Levites were the religious and spiritual leaders of the Israelites. They could be likened to our preachers, deacons, elders and other leaders of the church, yet they passed by on the other side. What reasons or excuses might these men have for their inaction? How will it sound before God?
Perhaps they were concerned about safety. After all, this was a dangerous place. The victim could have been a member of the thieves, laying a trap for unwary passers by.
Perhaps both the priest and Levite were just too busy. They were important people, chosen by God to be in charge of religious instruction and activities for God’s chosen people. Were they late for study of scripture or an important meeting?
Maybe it was just an inconvenient time. Certainly, stopping to help a person in distress would cost time, effort and expense. It was easier to pass by on the other side.
Also, the other side of the road was the less expensive side. Today we must be good stewards of the Lord’s money, preferring one another in love. Should priestly funds be used to help Christians, instead of a Samaritan?
It was certainly a more pleasant side. There would be no requirement to view the blood and gore, nor to listen to the moaning and suffering of the poor victim.
You may be thinking of better and more reasonable excuses for passing by on the other side. However, I would hate to have to try to justify any of these excuses for my failure before the Lord.
Consider that the story of the Good Samaritan was given to answer the question, “Who is my neighbor?” Also consider the words of Jesus that all the law and prophets hang on the two great commandments, i.e., of loving the Lord with all of your heart, soul, and mind and loving your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-40). Jesus defines a neighbor as one who helps another in need, not necessarily as one living in close proximity, in this example.
We must show the compassion, caring and concern of the Good Samaritan in our everyday lives. We might not think of passing by a vehicle accident and failing to offer assistance, but how often do we allow our busy lives to prevent us from providing encouragement, assistance and financial aid to those in whom we come in contact?
May God bless us as we strive to be humble servants of the Lord and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.