Today, I had an epiphany. The Lord brought to my mind the story of the good Samaritan. Samaritans are people of mixed race who lived in the country formally belonging to the tribe of Ephraim and the half tribe of Manasseh. When I first heard about this story, I was very young, and did not understand it’s significance. My Sunday school teacher lovingly taught this story, showing the class illustrations of the man who showed compassion. I always thought that Samaritan meant that he was a good person, but no. Samaritans were looked down upon and often discriminated against. They were foreigners who intermarried with the Israelite population. Initially, they were worshipers of idols who eventually acknowledged that they needed God’s protection. They were instructed in the Torah, but they often mixed Judaism and idolatry.
Understanding these important facts, I now see the significance of the story Jesus explained in Luke 10: 30-37. For those who may not know the story, I will summarize. A man was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he encountered some thieves who injured the traveler and stole from him. There he was left for dead on the side of the road. A priest (the chief religious functionary) came walking by, saw the man and crossed over to the other side of the road. Then a Levite walked by, (Levites were assistants to the priests). He too crossed over to the other side of the street. Both men refused to acknowledge the needs of this traveler. We do not know why, maybe they were afraid, or perhaps they could have been in a hurry we do not know.
Finally, the good Samaritan saw the man who was suffering alone one the side of the road, and he had compassion. He took the man to a nearby inn, paid for his lodging and told the in keeper to take care of the injured man. He promised that he would pay for anything else the man needed when he came back from his journey. Jesus then asked the question: “Which of these do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell among thieves?” Someone responded, “The one who showed mercy.” Jesus answered, “Go and do likewise.” The story illustrates how the one who one might least expect to assist will show the most compassion.