Summary: This is sermon #2 in a series based on the Good Samaritan. This message focuses on the two religious men who passed by and failed to help the wounded man on the road to Jericho.
Just Passing By
(from the series: Get off your Donkey)
This is the second in a 5 week series we’re doing called “Get off Your Donkey.” We’re taking time to focus on one of the most well known stories Jesus told: The Good Samaritan. Last week Richard talked about the CHOICE we make to help someone or to pass on by and do nothing.Today we’re going to focus on the two guys who made that second choice. They chose to pass on by.
Luke 10:30-32 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
Last week in our Pueblo group we were talking about Good Samaritan experiences we remember. One lady said years back she was coming down from her second story apartment to walk her dog when she fell down the stairs. She twisted her ankle badly and was lying there all scraped up and bleeding … and of course the dog ran off.
No one was around, but then she saw a lady walking down the sidewalk.
She called out, “Ma’am I need help. Could you help me back into my apartment, or go to the office and send someone to help me?”
The lady said, “No, I can’t. There’s blood all over the place and I don’t want to get involved.”
A few minutes later another lady and her son came by. That lady stopped to help her up while her boy ran to catch the run-away dog. Then the good Samaritan went to the office to get more help.
The story Jesus told is something that could really happen. In fact, it does really happen all the time.
When we hear the story of the Good Samaritan, we tend to look down on the Priest and Levite for being so heartless and selfish. But let’s take a second look and ask: Is there ever a legitimate reason to stay on your donkey and pass on by?
Before I lived in San Antonio, I was part of a Christian Church in a little town off the beaten path called Arcadia, Texas. At that point in my life I had a simple plan for what to do when someone asked me for help. They asked – I helped. It usually happened about 2 or 3 times a year and I often knew the people needing help. I’d just take care of it out of my wallet or using my time.
Then I moved to the big city - to our church which was right in the middle of the beaten path. My first week here, I was hit up by 6 people I didn’t know and by the end of the week I’d pulled over $150.00 out of my wallet. Of course word spread that there was an easy touch at our church, so the line started forming at my office door! I took the problem to the elders and that’s where our Helping Hands fund had its beginnings – including forms to fill out and other methods to keep professional panhandlers at bay.
Around that time I read an article in the Leadership Magazine about how to help without being taken advantage of. One point in that article has stayed with me through the years. It said, “If you hear a sad story from someone wanting financial help, the more complicated the story, the less likely it is to be true.”
Well I’ve heard plenty of complicated stories. I remember one I heard that first week I was here from a guy with a Bronx accent. It was a tangled tale that included being robbed at the airport and a moving truck and the KOA Campground in New Braunfels and being stranded at Immaculate Word College and it ended with a need for $47. That guy had me running all over town. And the funniest thing is, the same guy called me 8 years later and the price had gone up to $74. Inflation, I guess!
Well, experiences like that have made me a little more cynical. I now understand that it’s not always a good idea to get off my donkey. Maybe you’ve been burned a time or two and, like me, you’re older but wiser. Maybe that’s how the Priest and the Levite were in the story Jesus told. I’m sure they had some logical reasons to pass on by when they saw the man bleeding by the side of the road.