Summary: Being a good Samaritan requires change in our thought patterns and our normal courses of action.
REQUIREMENTS OF A GOOD SAMARITAN
Some years ago, S. E. Hinton wrote a book entitled The Outsiders which was later developed into a movie. It is the story of Ponyboy, a fourteen-year-old boy who belongs to a gang called the Greasers. Though he appears bold and confused, he is very sensitive. Since the death of his parents, his loyalty has been to his brothers and his gang.
I recall one event in the movie that I think portrays what a Good Samaritan is. One day Ponyboy and Johnny were walking through the park when a car full of Socs pulled up. Ponyboy and Johnny sat carefully on the monkey bars as the Socs approached and began to ridicule them. Before long, a fight had erupted. One of the Socs grabbed Ponyboy and tried to drown him in the water fountain. Seeing what was about to happen, a dazed Johnny pulled out his switchblade and killed one of the attackers. When Ponyboy and Johnny awoke later, the other Socs were gone but the dead one lay where Johnny had stabbed him.
Afraid of what would happen, they approach a fellow gang member named Dally. Dally had been in trouble before, and they assumed he would know how to help them. Sure enough, he arranged for them to stay at an abandoned church far away. He gave them money to buy food, and told them to stay there until the heat was off. Johnny and Ponyboy cut their hair, and Ponyboy dyed his blonde in an attempt to disguise himself. Later, Dally returned to get them.
While they were away in town getting something to eat, a group of children with a few adults had a picnic at the old church. Johnny and Ponyboy had been smoking while at the church and evidently one of the cigarettes ignited and the church caught on fire while some of the children were inside. When they returned from eating, they saw the church engulfed in flames. Instinctively-and without thought for their own lives, Ponyboy and Johnny race from the car into the burning church and begin rescuing children. When Johnny is almost out of danger, a huge ceiling beam falls on him. Ponyboy and Dally escape with only minor burns and smoke inhalation.
Dally-not one to care very much for anyone else, scolds Ponyboy for pulling such a stunt. Then they make their way to the hospital to check on Johnny whose life is hanging in the balance. The prognosis for Johnny was not very good. Later, Ponyboy would visit him again. Just before he died, Johnny told Ponyboy that it was worth it to save the lives of those children. He said their lives were worth more than his. Then he told Ponyboy to tell Dally that because he didn't think he knew.
Of course, these heroic efforts by two kids from the wrong side of town made the headlines. One day, while at the store, Randy, the leader of the rival gang the Socs, confronted Ponyboy. He called him to his car and asked him why he saved those kids. He readily admitted that he would not have saved him. He said; "I would have let them burn to death." He just could not understand what would make a Greaser perform such a feat. I think that story along with the story Jesus tells gives us great insight concerning what is involved in being a good Samaritan.
Jesus begins his story by telling of a certain man-probably a Jew, who made his way from Jerusalem to Jericho. Jericho was the place the priests lived when they were not working in Jerusalem. The road between the two cities was haunted by thieves and robbers. Though the road was only 17 miles, it was very unsafe. While the priests and Levites were probably not bothered because of their profession, everyone else was in danger. The man Jesus speaks of might have been a merchant, but nevertheless the thieves attacked him as he made his way to Jericho. They stripped him of his clothing, beat him and left him for dead.
The first person to come by after the robbery was a priest. He was a servant of the Law of God and was supposedly dedicated to God. No doubt, he had finished his work at the Temple and was returning to Jericho. Now perhaps he was in a hurry, but he knew what God's word taught about loving other people. Nevertheless, he passed by the wounded man.
The second person to happen by was a Levite. He belonged to an inferior branch of the Pharisees who were some of the religious leaders of the day. He was a servant in the Temple and a minister of religious worship. His job was to interpret the Law of God. He, like so many others of his time, had allowed his religion to become formal, heartless and compassionless. He too passed by the wounded man.