THE GOOD SAMARITAN IN THE 21ST CENTURY
There was an Evangelical “Bible-believing” Christian, on a busy city street, who was beaten and robbed by a couple of thugs and left for dead. Many people saw the mugging, but no one wanted to get involved, so no one called the police or even dialed 911. One of the people who witnessed this crime was an Evangelical “Bible-believing” pastor, but he pretended that he did not see it and crossed the street to avoid rendering aid. Also, among those who saw this crime being perpetrated was an Evangelical “Bible-believing” elder, but he, too, crossed the street so as not to get involved. But there was a man who came along right after this crime was committed and saw the motionless victim lying on the sidewalk. This man, a Black Muslim, ran to the victim, detected he was not breathing, and immediately began performing CPR. When the man was again breathing on his own, this “Good Samaritan,” rendered first aid to stop the bleeding by tearing up his own shirt to make a tourniquet. He then called 911 and comforted the victim while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. Since the victim was uninsured, this compassionate gay Muslim told the EMT that if the victim needed to be hospitalized, he would make a donation of a day’s pay—$200—toward a fund to pay his medical bills. In this parable, which person acted most neighborly in demonstrating God’s mercy and unconditional love for all people?
Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor [even a stranger, not just the person next door] as ourselves (Mt. 22:37-40). If those who call themselves, “Evangelical ‘Bible-believing’ Christians” should read this parable and be enlightened, not infuriated, by it they will have a better understanding of and greater appreciation for the hostile reaction Jesus’ all-Jewish audience had in the first century when He told the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). The Jews called Samaritans, who were the descendants of intermarriages of Jews with Gentiles, “half-breeds” and would have no social or business dealings with them. Jews would go out of their way to avoid going through Samaria in order to have no contact with this despised social and religious class. The Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, to whom Jesus ministered, was surprised that He, a Jew, even spoke to her. She exclaimed, “The Jews have no dealings with Samaritans” (John 4:9).
In Jesus’ parable it is implicit that the man beaten, robbed, and left for dead was a Jew. A Jewish priest and a Levite, a Jewish temple worker, crossed to the other side of the road to avoid providing care. It was the non-Jewish, “half-breed,” hated Samaritan who cleansed the wounds [of one who despised him] with his flask of wine, poured in soothing oil, bound up his wounds, put him on his own donkey while he walked, took him to the nearest inn, and made a deposit of a day’s wages for his care. He told the inn-keeper that if this man required more care he would pay those expenses on his return trip!
Jesus told this parable in response to an expert in the Law of Moses asking, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered by asking him what the Law says. He replied, “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus said, “You are right; do this and you will live.” But he quibbled, “Who is my neighbor”? Per Jesus’ parable, a neighbor is anyone needing help and anyone giving it. “Bible-believing” Christians contend all non-Christians and the “wrong kind of Christians” [especially if gay and not sexually abstinent], are going to be condemned to hell forever by God “who is love!” This is not what Jesus taught in the Good Samaritan Parable in which unconditional love trumped social class, bigotry, and religious belief.