Summary: Parables for Christian Living, Pt. 3
UNSUNG HEROES (LUKE 10:25-37)
A few years ago I saw a truck in front of me roaring fiercely about to turn the corner onto the freeway ramp. In the driver’s seat of the humongous truck was a man in his late 20s ramming his engine and blasting his stereo. The guy had dark glasses and a black T-shirt – the type you associate with a rabid Raider fan. I had nothing but dislike, distaste and derision for his outward appearance.
As the man was turning into the freeway he did not slow down but was traveling at his normal speed. He was in such a hurry that I thought he was putting his life and the life of others in danger. However, he made a U-turn into the opposite lane and did not go into the ramp. Slowing his truck down, he jumped out of his truck at the same time it screeched to a complete stop. How dangerous, I thought to myself as I took a clearer look at the stocky man who was wearing shorts and spotting tattoos.
Then I saw smoke coming out of a car lying on the side of the road where the man had stopped. How wrong I was! Beside the car was a woman who was in need of help and it turned out that the young man was not a danger or nuisance to the public, but a good Samaritan and a hero to a damsel in distress.
In Luke 10, Jesus told a story to a smart-alecky man who challenged his teaching. The travel from Jerusalem to Jericho was as dangerous a travel zone as any. According to Walter Liefeld, robbers could easily hide on the rugged, bleak, rocky terrain that characterized the 17-mile stretch travel (Expositor’s Commentary, Vol. 8 pg. 943). The traveler in the parable was an easy target. He was traveling alone when he was preyed on, set upon and beaten up by robbers, not thieves. Thieves robbed at night, but robbers in broad daylight. The robbers were well-organized, well-equipped and well-informed gangsters and criminals, and they easily overpowered the unsuspecting travelers.
Who is a hero? A hero is one who sees a neighbor or stranger in need and whose help you meet. Heroes are ordinary people who do what they can out of extraordinary compassion, mercy and kindness.
A Hero Does Not Close His Eyes to What is Happening
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.
Lost behind the story of Seabiscuit, the most celebrated racehorse of the 20th century, and the jockey played by Spiderman’s Tobey Macguire was the story of its peculiar trainer, Tom Smith. When a rich man decided to turn to horse racing, he needed to find a trainer for his horse. He stumbled upon an eccentric and old, but a talented and tender trainer whose chances of training a racehorse had all but slipped by.
When the owner Charles Howard first met his future trainer, he spotted the horse lover caring for an injured horse that was past its time and no longer in racing favor. Unlike other trainers, Smith did not have a barn or stable or home, and he lived outside in the bushes with the one horse that he had rescued from owners that wanted to shoot the poor animal.
The shrewd and curious businessman then visited the trainer in the middle of the night to ask him why he was wasting his time on an out-of-favor and down-on-luck horse. Howard asked, “Will he get better?’ Smith replied, “Already is…a little” The owner then got to his point: “Will he race?” Smith acknowledged, “No. Not that one.” The curious owner exclaimed, “So why are you fixing him?” Smith spoke with candor and won the owner over with his answer: “Cause I can. Every horse is good for something. He could be a cart horse or a lead pony. And he’s still nice to look at. You don’t throw a whole life away just because it’s banged up a bit.”
The sufferer and victim lying on the road was not a thing, but a person; not an animal carcass, but a human body, not somebody known to him, but dear to someone. The ghastly sight and the lifeless body did not accurately reflect or portray the person he was. The beating stripped him of his humanity. The robbers stripped the man of his clothes (v 30) and possibly everything he had, including his money and his donkey. The verb “stripped” was used only on one other person in the Gospels – Jesus Christ (Matt 27:28-31, Mark 15: 20). The man had both an unwanted Messianic moment and Pauline moment – he was not only stripped the same way Jesus was (Matt 27:28-31, Mark 15: 20) and he suffered Greek “beating” the same experience as Paul’s flogging (Acts 16:23), wounds (Acts 16:33), and beatings (2 Cor 6:5).