Circle the Stories: Parables of the Great Parabler

Monday, March 14, 2022

The Good Samaritan, by Katie Snipes Lancaster

Jesus replied, “A man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. He encountered thieves, who stripped him naked, beat him up, and left him near death. Now it just so happened that a priest was also going down the same road. When he saw the injured man, he crossed over to the other side of the road and went on his way. Likewise, a Levite came by that spot, saw the injured man, and crossed over to the other side of the road and went on his way. A Samaritan, who was on a journey, came to where the man was. But when he saw him, he was moved with compassion. The Samaritan went to him and bandaged his wounds, tending them with oil and wine. Then he placed the wounded man on his own donkey, took him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day, he took two full days’ worth of wages and gave them to the innkeeper. He said, ‘Take care of him, and when I return, I will pay you back for any additional costs.’ Luke 10:30–35

Reflection: If you have traveled from Jerusalem to Jericho as part of a Holy Lands tour, this parable comes into fresh view. The road is steep, a sharp elevation change over a short distance, with twists and turns where robbers could easily hide. One scholar describes Jericho as the suburb where many priests happened to live, and so their daily or weekly commute would have put them on that highway frequently, but after a major economic downturn during the transitions of power within the Roman empire in Jesus’ day, so many workers were laid off that the road became less frequently traveled by salaried commuters, and some speculate that a percentage of those who were unemployed took to robbing. It is no accident that Jesus uses the road from Jerusalem to Jericho as the setting for this parable. It is timely, contextual, and relevant and remains so today.

If the economic shifting sands of the Roman empire lay in the background of this parable, I am forced to confront our own financial landscape when wondering how this parable is relevant to us today. Where are the Jerusalem-to-Jericho places in our world? Where might vulnerable people come under attack, left for dead? Remember that this parable started out with a lawyer asking Jesus, “and who is my neighbor?” Maybe this parable advocates that our neighbor of greatest concern is the one in danger, ill-protected, unguarded, open to attack, exposed, without defense.

Neighboring God,
under your wing, may we become
protection for the powerless
aid to the helpless
shelter for the exposed
shielding for the defenseless
relief for the wounded
in your renewing resilience,

March 14, 2022

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