Another Good Samaritan sermon

“Rabbi, how can I inherit eternal life?”

The question is a ruse – a trap – a blind that covers his real fear.

But Jesus is not fooled.  ‘What does Torah tell you?’

Always go back to the source, is Jesus’ motto.

Answers are given – satisfactory answers, according to the law –

according to the teacher.

Love God – Love your neighbour.  But, says the man….

There is an easy way, and a more difficult way –

and the easy way is hidden by his next question.

 

Yes, this is a parable about the power of love, and the kindness of strangers –

and yes, the ‘law’ that has been quoted is illustrated by this parable.

But what if there is more?

 

The priest and the Levite are held up

as grumbling, miserable self-righteous jerks, to be blunt.

They cross the road and don’t look back.

There is too much of the unknown in this situation –

For them, the chance is not worth taking.

 

The man may be badly wounded –

there is the very real danger of breaking laws of purity (and propriety)

by coming in contact with this dying stranger –

– maybe it’s a trap laid by clever criminals.

There are many reasons to avoid this life-lesson.

 

I have every reason to believe that when these two made it safely home,

they thanked God, hugged their wives, and were swarmed by their children;

ordinary people doing ordinary things – just like all of us.

 

We don’t take chances,

we don’t interfere where we may not be wanted.

we are afraid; and our fear keeps us safe.

This is not a tale designed to set the Jews against the Samaritans –

the fight was already ancient.  This story tells the truth about salvation.

 

Salvation is, first of all, about mercy –

even Jesus questioner recognized

that mercy was the principal quality of the man who stopped to help.

But mercy, in this case, comes from the most unlikely source –

it comes from the stranger – the enemy – the one we think has nothing to offer.

 

Too often, we are asked to put ourselves in these stories of Jesus –

do we walk by? Would we stop and “do mercy”?

Are willing to consider that we are wounded, broken, and waiting for help?

 

For in our time, we have stumbled and fallen,

and the last thing we expect is to be rescued by God –

God has been painted as a jealous and wrathful Master –

mercy is not expected, but mercy is what God is,

and mercy is what God offers in Christ.

 

The Samaritan is not troubled by robbers, or traps – why?

The common suggestion is that he is not bound by these religious notions

of purity and cleanliness, but that is misleading.

Every culture has their taboos – their obligations their innate fears.

There was, in Jesus telling, something about this man (who happened to be a Samaritan)

that would not let him leave a fellow human being in distress.

 

Mercy is the thing that reminds us ‘there but for the grace of God go I’;

Mercy that moves us to action

and helps us decide that this particular trouble cannot be ignored.

This is the same trait that moves God to seek reconciliation with humanity –

to tell a story in flesh and blood, and say to the world

‘I am found where you are hurting and troubled’…

 

Of course, the gospels say it differently:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and carrying heavy burdens,

and I will give you rest.’  but Jesus suggestion is that mercy is very near to us –

that reconciliation is within our reach – that help is coming up the path.

 

It won’t be in the form we expect –

not dressed like a priest; not holy and proper.

God’s mercy comes in the form of a wandering teacher,

who was treated like a criminal, arrested, convicted,

and left for dead by the powers that be.

Until that glorious morning when the love of God set him free to rescue the rest of us.

 

We know the beauty and truth of God’s mercy.

We continually encounter people and places who need mercy grace and love.

Let us, in the name of Jesus, filled with the love of God, never tire of doing mercy

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One Response to “Another Good Samaritan sermon”

  1. revjeff Says:

    Reblogged this on Reflections from here.

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