Now I don’t mean to be crude with that title but I just wanted to get your attention right off the bat! Did I do that? Good. I have been doing a teaching series titled “The Crazies.” Each week I am dealing with something we ought to get crazy about. This week the message is “Let’s Get Crazy about Compassion.” The text is Luke 10 where Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan.
A man was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho down the Jericho road which was known for its danger from robbers. Sure enough they got him and left him in the ditch after they robbed and stripped him.
Along came a Priest who passed him by. Then came a Levite, who was like a Temple assistant to the priests, and he passed him by. But a Samaritan, passing by, stopped, crawled into the ditch, and pulled the man out. Then he took him to the next place where he could be cared for and payed for his care!
Jesus told the story to clarify for a young specialist in the Old Testament law how far our love was to reach. Jesus had just answered the question for the lawyer, “What is the greatest commandment.” Jesus said, and I paraphrase, “Love God with everything you are and love your neighbor as yourself.” The lawyer wanted that definition of neighbor narrowed down a bit so he asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”
So Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan. Jesus made the hero of the story someone the lawyer would have looked down upon. A Samaritan. A half-Jew whom any orthodox Jew would look upon as less than human. Even worse than a Gentile. The hurting person in the story could have been anyone. Jew, Samaritan, Gentile. Jesus doesn’t specify. All he tells us in the story is that the man was in the ditch and needed help.
The point? Help him! He is your neighbor! Two religious people refused to help but the Samaritan did what was right.
As I thought about this story I thought, “Why would it be the Samaritan who helped and not the others?” Well perhaps because he was a Samaritan he knew what it was like to be hurt. He had been hurt all of his life. Looked down upon, rejected by the Jewish population that surrounded Samaria on all sides. In essence he was in touch with his own “ditchiness” and so had compassion on the man who was in the ditch right then.
You know one of the greatest hindrances to true compassion is when we get out of touch with own “ditchiness.” When we forget where we came from.
Paul reminds us of our ditchiness in Epesians 2:11-12. “Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called ” Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands – remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”
In fact the Word of God tells us that every one of us was born in a ditch! A ditch of sin and death.
Ephesians 2 “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins……. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved )..”
So the next time you are tempted to pass by someone in the ditch just take a look in the mirror and say to yourself, “Why, you Son of a Ditch!” Who do you think you are?