Summary: A different look at the parable of the good Samaritan.
I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!!
How often do you take the time to think about the life that you’ve lived, and how close you have come to experiencing the fate of the man in our text today. If I were to guess, I believe many of us would have to say “it could have been me”. Our text focuses on four characters, the man, the priest, the Levite and the Samaritan.
Let’s look at the Samaritan first because many preachers, myself included, have taught this message from this perspective. We have used the Samaritan as a shining example of how we are to treat our brothers and sisters when they find themselves in a difficult situation. And that is one of the points that Jesus is trying to share with us in this parable. God wants us to love and have compassion for each other, even when we don’t know who the other person is.
But, there is another side to this story that many of us have missed for a lot of years. Let’s look at verse 30 again. Jesus says,”a certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell”. When I looked at this text I began to understand that this man was not the victim of circumstances that many of us have allowed ourselves to believe, but he was very aware of those people that ultimately turned on him. Let’s look again,”a certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell(among thieves)”. Jesus suggests in this parable that this man was not a thief himself. He goes as far as suggesting that the experience of being with people of such low character was new to this man. Listen again,”a certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell”. It’s been my experience that one cannot fall into something that he or she is already doing. Therefore, this man, finding himself away from home, hooked up with some shady characters, perhaps thinking that it would be fun. Billy Joel sang a song called “Only the good die young”, where he says this, “I’d rather laugh with the sinners then cry with the saints, the sinners are much more fun”. We all must live with the decisions that me make and this man made a decision to hang out with people of suspect character. That decision almost cost him his life, because the thieves turned on him.
Let me share this story with you. Some of you may know that raccoons are adorable little animals that many people have tried to domesticate. Well there is a down side to trying to make a raccoon a pet. Many of those that have tried have found out the hard way. When a raccoon is about 2 years old, 24 months, there is a hormonal change that takes place that causes them to suddenly and unexplainedly turn violent. They will attack anything or anyone that they see. They can’t help it, it’s in their nature. A thief is no different. It’s his nature to steal and he doesn’t care what he has to do, even to the point of causing great bodily harm. This man did not understand this, and because he had befriended these men, he thought that he could trust them. He truly believed as the owners of those raccoons believed, “Oh no, he would never hurt me”.
But, that is only a part of the story, because there are 2 other principals in this parable, mainly the priest and the Levite, the church folk. I find it interesting that Jesus chose these 2 men to pass by the injured man. Have you ever wondered why they did this? Or why Jesus chose to tell this story to someone who was looking for confirmation of their life? I believe that He did this because He wanted His listener to understand a very simple fact. Familiarity breeds contempt. In other words, the priest and the Levite, the 2 church folk, knew the man that was in the ditch. They had probably had the opportunity to minister to this man, seeing him in church services, and they believed that he should have made better choices. In other words, they knew that this man had made a decision to hang out with the devil. I would go so far as to say, that they had warned him about the shady characters that he had befriended, telling him that the very fate that he met was inevitable. Therefore when they saw him lying there, I believe that they both said, I told you so, and with a judgmental attitude, they walked away. After all, who could blame them for giving up on this man. They had taught him and they had warned him. But he chose to ignore them and do his own thing. He chose to hang with the devil and do every thing that he was big and bad enough to do. The word of God tells us that the devil is a liar and a deceiver too. To many of us, like this man, have to dance with the devil to find this out. We don’t believe the voice of reason, the voice of experience. We have to find out for ourselves, and sometimes it can be catastrophic. We lose our money, our dignity, our self respect. Some of us, unfortunately, lose our lives.