Receiving Compassion: The Story of the Good Samaritan
There's a story Jesus tells about a man who was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. A group of robbers attacked him, stripped him, and left him for dead. A priest walked passed him. So did another religious man. Now, there were reasons for them not helping the man, but this writing is not about those details. This writing focuses on the third man, what he did, and what his actions mean for you and me.
A third man, a Samaritan, walked toward the man. But instead of passing by him, he stops. The scripture passage says the Samaritan "had compassion" (Luke 10:25-37 for the whole story). He went to the man, bound up his wounds, took him to an inn, and took care of the injured man. In addition, the Samaritan made sure that any expenses while he was away would be paid for until the injured man was well enough to continue his journey.
To get the full gist of the story, the injured man most likely was Jewish. Samaritans and Jews back in Jesus' day did not get along; actually the two hated each other. And that's what makes this story so incredible: the enemy took care of his enemy.
Contrast this to the story of Hugo. Hugo was an immigrant to the United States who decided to live Queens, a neighborhood of New York City. One night he witnessed a woman being robbed at knife-point. He intervened only to be stabbed by the robber. The robber ran one way; the woman ran the other. Cameras in the area saw eighteen people pass by Hugo as he was bleeding and dying on the street. A few actually stopped to take a picture of the dying man with their cell phones. By the time the firemen came, he was dead. No one would be Hugo's Good Samaritan... even though he tried to be the woman's.
How sad. But what would you do? Honestly, what would you do?
Being a Good Samaritan takes courage as well as compassion. It goes against our very nature; it goes against the norm; and, as Hugo's story reminds us, it can be very risky. Nevertheless, this is what Jesus expected his students to do - have courage, be compassionate... even to the one you consider your enemy, even if it may be a risk to your life.
And you know what? The Teacher didn't just speak it; the Teacher lived his words. Seeing you and me on the side of life's road, he risked everything; and he paid the cost. But in his eyes, you were worth the cost.
"In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us...." (2 Corinthians 5:19-20).