Summary: What it means to be a Christian in an evil world.
I want you to listen very carefully. I'm going to describe four people, and at the end of the service I want you to tell me which one of the four your can identify with the most. Which one of the four you are most like. It's a very unusual story.
According to the report I have in front of me, the man had left church and was heading straight home, minding his own business, when all of a sudden he was ambushed by a bunch of thugs. Rumor has it that these muggers were a group of political activists trying to overthrow the government. Be that as it may, they wanted the man's money.
As far as I can piece the story together, this man was not about to part with his money and so he decided to put up a fight. But, since he was hopelessly outnumbered, it was a very unwise decision and it wasn't long until this gang of thieves had beat him to a pulp, leaving him more dead than alive, by the side of the road.
How he lay there bleeding and moaning and slipping in and out of consciousness, no one knows for sure. But in time, after what seemed like hours, the dying man thought he could hear footsteps coming down the road. Through his one remaining eye, he could see the blurred outline of a man. As this man got closer, the victim could see it was a clergyman. God be praised! Surely the man of the cloth will help.
But the account says that the clergyman took one look at this mangled form of humanity and hurried on his way. We cannot say, we do not know how much longer this poor man lay by the side of the road before someone came to his aid.
We do know from the account that at least one more chap passed by without helping. And, finally, after long hours, when all hope was gone, another man chanced to drive by this way. He spotted the man lying in the ditch, got out of his car, gently pulled him into the back seat, blood and all, and drove him to the nearest medical center, agreed to pay for his care until the poor man was fully recovered.
You see, this was before there were national Medicare services, and so, this guy had to pay right out of his own pocket. It was an incredible story of heroism.
Now, the story I have just related to you didn't happen in New York City or Toronto. You'll find this story, minus the automobile, in Luke chapter 10. It is one of the greatest stories Jesus ever told. We call it the Parable of the Good Samaritan. There are four principle characters in this timeless story. And I want us to look at each of them, this evening, and see where we best fit in.
I. The Traveler
The first person we meet is the traveler. Jesus called him "a certain man."
We don't know his name,
we don't know his race, though we suspect he was a Jew.
Facts are, we know very little about him.
But we do know that this nameless man was on his way from Jerusalem, Jericho. The distant between these two places is less than 30 kilometers. I suppose it would be like taking a drive out to Airdrie.
But there the similarity ends, for the distance between Jerusalem is not only measured horizontally, but it's measured vertically. You see, Jerusalem is over 2,000 feet above sea level. And Jericho is over 1,000 feet below sea level. You put that together and you have a 3,000 foot drop in less than 30 kilometers.
The Bible says "the man went down". And when the Bible says down, it means down. The Jericho road was narrow,
the terrain rugged,
the risks high. It was a perfect place for packs of thieves to hold up lonely travelers. And that's exactly what happened.
Now, I assume this traveler was in Jerusalem to worship God. Jerusalem was not a great commercial or political center at that time, but it was the worship center for the Jewish faith. People came to Jerusalem from all over the world to worship the true and the living God.
And I submit to you that this was what the man had been doing in Jerusalem. The point is, he got mugged coming home from church. He got into deep trouble right after worshipping God. But wait a minute. I thought God protected people who worshipped Him. I thought sickness and suffering could never touch the worshipping child of God.
It doesn’t make sense that this man could be worshipping God in the morning, and could be breathing his last in the afternoon. It doesn't make sense that God-fearing people should have trouble and pain and heartache. And bad people should prosper.