THERE was a road which the disciples had often passed over with the Lord, which they knew very well. It led from the east gate of Jerusalem across the Kidron valley, up over the Mount of Olives, by the village of Bethany, and so down among bare desert hills nearly twenty miles, to the brow of the high bluffs which border the Jordan valley. By the side of the road is a deep, rough gorge, from which a brook runs out into the sunny plain. In the Gospel time it watered the fields and gardens of Jericho, which stood just under the hills. This road is a lonely one, with no town after passing Bethany, and the country is rough and wild. Travellers to-day take a guard when they pass this way, and in the old time people sometimes fell among thieves as they went down from Jerusalem to Jericho.
The Lord told of such a one in a parable. There was a priest in the parable, one of those who did service in the temple at Jerusalem, perhaps returning from his home after his term of service. The priests wore their white robes and turbans, and often as they went they read in some sacred roll. And there was a Levite in the parable, he was one of the tribe set apart for sacred duty, who helped the priest in the temple. We see the priest and the Levite gathering their robes about them, lest they should be defiled, and passing by on the other side.
Afterward a Samaritan came this way, riding on his horse or ass. You remember the Samaritans who lived in the middle part of the country between Judaea and Galilee. The Jews despised them and would have no dealings with them. This man was not learned in the law like the priest and Levite, but he had more of its spirit than they, for his heart was kinder than theirs. The parable tells of an inn. It was a khan, not unlike the inn at Bethlehem, where travellers rested on their lonely journey. The two pence which the Samaritan gave to the host were Roman silver coins about the size of our dimes, and worth fifteen cents each. But a penny was a day’s wages in those times. We must read this beautiful story just as the Lord told it. But let us notice why He told it, and who were listening as He spoke.
A certain lawyer had asked the Lord a question. The lawyers were men who spent much time in studying the law of Moses, but too often they overlooked the real lesson of the Scriptures, to love the Lord and one another by being kind and useful.
And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, 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 neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise—Luke X. 25-37.
How can we go and do likewise? We never found a wounded man by the roadside. Perhaps not, but have we never met some little child in trouble, or some old person, or a blind man, and left him for some one else to help instead of helping him ourselves! At home and school, do we not pass many little chances to help our mother or our little sister or brother, because it is too much trouble, or would interfere with something we want to do for ourselves! There may be many times when it would not be really kind to give money to a poor man, for he would make bad use of it, and do harm to himself and others; but we must all watch for chances to be really kind and useful. Our best chance is in doing our regular work faithfully and well. And there are many little chances, which we shall not see unless we look for them; they will go unused unless we are quick to say a kind word and to lend a helping hand.
Author: William L. Worcester 1904
A journey >> Spiritual journey, a change, a progress from one state to another
Jerusalem (stood high on the hills, the Lord’s temple was there) >> A state of special nearness to the Lord
Jericho (down in the Jordan valley; near the border) >> A natural and external state, having to do with outward life in the world
Journey from Jerusalem to Jericho >> The journey from worship to practical life
Thieves >> What robs us of Truth and Good
Stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him >> We lose our true and innocent thoughts, and our affections are injured because our good purposes and resolutions are forgotten
Priest >> Love for the Lord in our hearts (Jewish priest >> self-love)
Levite >> Love for the neighbor (love of the world)
Jewish priest and Levite’ s conduct >> Selfishness
Samaritan’s conduct >> Selflessness, spirit of charity
Oil and wine >> Good and Truth of the spiritual sense of the Word
Set him on his own beast >> Help someone according to his understanding
Brought him to an inn, and took care of him >> Entrust him to the Lord’s power and care
Pictures: James Tissot —-Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum