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DFLC Sermon - July 10, 2022 - Pastor Marie Meeks

Grace and peace to you, from God our Creator, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.


This is such a familiar parable, isn’t it? I’d bet most of you could recite it by heart. So why do we still read it? Because it is a beloved parable that we love to hear? Because we know just what Jesus is telling us to do, “Be a good neighbor”? Or maybe so we can feel good about ourselves. We know we are the Samaritan in the story, right?


But I have a question. Why do we call this story “The Good Samaritan”? Are all Samaritans good? What about the Samaritans in last week’s story? They weren’t very good. They refused to give hospitality to Jesus and his disciples just because they were headed to Jerusalem. Maybe we call this Samaritan good because he is not like other Samaritans? Kind of like we might say about a Muslim friend when someone questions why we are associating with a terrorist. “Oh no, he’s a GOOD Muslim.” What does that mean? Are we saying that, so our friends will see that we don’t like all Muslims but this one is different? That sounds pretty prejudiced, doesn’t it?


And that is what this parable is about too. You see, Jews and Samaritans hated each other. Their dispute was hundreds of years old. After King Solomon died. there was conflict and the country was split between north and south. The Samaritans established a temple on Mount Gerizim in the north, and claimed that it was the only place to worship God. Of course, the people in the south disputed that and claimed the temple in Jerusalem was the only true temple. And over the centuries, the division only got worse.


So, the story Jesus told was a little shocking to his listeners. Sometimes, this story is used to criticize the Jewish leaders. “Why didn’t they stop and help?” But remember, they were coming from Jerusalem on a dangerous road. The road to Jericho was known for the robbers who hid in the hills and attacked travelers. So maybe the Priest and the Levite were scared to stop and help. Who knows, maybe this was a trick to get them to stop, so the robbers could attack. That is not too far from our fear of getting lost in the city at night. So maybe we should give them a break.


So why does the Samaritan stop? Isn’t he afraid of the robbers? What we hear from Jesus is that when the Samaritan saw the man beaten and left for dead, he was moved with pity. This Samaritan saw this man, and was moved with pity which, maybe, overcame his fear. So, he helped the man and took him to an inn, giving money to the owner and promising to return and pay for any additional care the man would need. When he finishes the story, Jesus said, “Who was a neighbor to the man on the road?” The law scholar says, “The one who showed him pity.” And that’s why we identify with the Samaritan, because he is the good guy in the story. We want to think that we are the good guys, don’t we? And we hope that we would do the same, if we were in that situation.


But I want you to imagine, for a minute, that you are not the Samaritan, but the guy lying on the road. What was he thinking when a Samaritan came over to him, this hated-person that all Jews avoided like the plague? Samaritans and Jews hated each other so much that they couldn’t even eat together. Or as the Samaritan “woman at the well” said to Jesus, “How is it that you, a Jew are asking me, a Samaritan, for a drink?


Would we be able to accept help, from someone we hated? Considering the times we live in, would a liberal accept help from a conservative or vice-versa? We need to remember that we are all children of God—part of the same human family, beyond politics, race and gender. We are called to love our neighbor—all our neighbors. Let us go out from here today and follow the Great Commandment—to love God and love our neighbor. Amen.

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