Monday, July 4, 2016

A Defining Parable

If you had a poll of the most popular parables of Jesus, I would think that the Good Samaritan comes in first.  The Prodigal Son might edge it out.  Maybe the Sower.  But I think there is something about the Good Samaritan that has broad appeal in society. 

For one thing, people can identify with being victimized and left for dead.  Even if we have no physical experience of this, our imaginations are such that we can put ourselves in the poor traveler’s place and identify the horror and injustice of the situation. 

We can also appreciate that help doesn’t always come from those we depend upon.  The priest and the Levite should be the kind of trustworthy people you could expect to help you in time of need.  Most people have been let down by friends or family at some point in life and can identify that this disappointment is unfortunately accurate.

Good Samaritan moments are now looked at in popular
culture as any unexpected kindness.
Finally, we do recognize that help does come to us in life from unlikely sources.  Samaritans and Jews were not exactly on friendly terms during the time of Jesus and so for the Samaritan to be seen as the hero is definitely unexpected.  I can remember my brother Bob re-telling this parable in a modern setting back in 1980.  We were in the middle of the Iranian hostage crisis and he titled it, “The Good Iranian”.  It left an impression on me to this day.

This has the wonderful result of making us re-examine our own cultural or racial prejudices.  At the same time, we are reminded that God’s grace comes to us in ways that we normally may not consider.
All of this is in the context of Jesus showing us that true life comes from loving God and neighbor.    

This Sunday, Luke 10:25-37 which contains this parable is the Gospel reading for the lectionary.  It comes just once every three years.  I’m not sure that this is often enough for us to consider this wisdom and I’m sorry it is placed during July when we have some of our smallest crowds.  However, I always enjoy preaching on this and will enjoy it again on Sunday. 

If you are in town, I would encourage you to join us for worship!

In Christ,


Photo by Iain Cochrane of Scotland via, used by Creative Commons license.