Go and Do Likewise
How many opportunities are we given in a day to welcome, invite, help, love, and serve others? How many of those opportunities do we just “walk on by?”
In Luke 10:25-37, Jesus tells a story of a couple men who literally walked by a clear opportunity to serve and one man who didn’t. When you consider it further, it wasn’t just an opportunity to serve but to save! While the “Good Samaritan” becomes the main focus of Jesus’ story, there’s another person who deserves attention before and after the parable: the lawyer.
The lawyer was the one who prompted the story of the Samaritan when he was trying to entrap Jesus by asking, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus had the lawyer answer his own question and he answered correctly, referencing Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. In fact, Jesus replied, “…do this and you will live.” Still yet, the lawyer pressed further, wanting Jesus’ definition of who really was his neighbor. In fact, the English Standard Version states the lawyer was “desiring to justify himself.”
As Jesus responds with the incredible story of the good Samaritan, He first speaks of two “respected” men who weren’t respectable at all toward this “half dead” victim. But why would they have been considered respectable in the first place? Some biblical/historical background: the Levites were the God-picked tribe of Israel, appointed to handle things regarding the tabernacle – the dwelling place of God under Old Testament law. The priests were also from the tribe of Levi, with even more responsibilities and privileges regarding their work for the Lord. So when Jesus tells us that a priest and a Levite ignored the needs of this poor soul, we’re to recognize just how ungodly their own response is when they chose to do nothing. They clearly didn’t consider him a neighbor. Was it just too inconvenient?
Then there’s the other side of the coin. As Jesus then focuses on the Samaritan, we should understand that Samaritans were considered “half-breeds” of the Jews. In other words, they weren’t “full-blooded” and therefore discriminated against. It would’ve been no surprise if Jesus had said the Samaritan passed by as well, knowing how others viewed them.
I’m sure you know the rest of the story. Through the Samaritan, Jesus shows us we’re all neighbors to each other - regardless of social norms, tax brackets, or any other designations. The Samaritan cares for this downtrodden neighbor as his own.
As it turns out, the lesson wasn’t lost on the lawyer. I hope it isn’t lost on us either. Let’s not “justify ourselves.” We all have opportunities to serve, even when it’s not expected. As Jesus concluded with a simple admonition to the lawyer in verse 37, I’ll admonish you and me with His words: “go and do likewise.”