“But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.” Luke 10:29-33
In this part of the story Jesus displays His insight and understanding of the human nature. Essentially, He is revealing there are two types of people, those who want to be seen and those who are willing to see others.
Which are you?
Having the desire to be seen and the center of attention is a result of the selfish nature you inherit at birth. Three examples of this are demonstrated in this story.
The lawyer who initiated this conversation was very concerned about how people saw him. He wanted to be the smartest guy in the room. Being the smartest guy in the room is tough when Jesus is in the room. So, when he failed he tried again. If he looked bad the first time he looked foolish the second time. Needing to be noticed put him at odds with Jesus and it will do the same for you.
How about you? Do you need to be the smartest man in the room?
Secondly, there was the priest who passed by the badly beaten man. Priests were supposed to be ritually clean, exemplars of the law. There would be immediate shame and embarrassment suffered by them at the expense of the people and their peers for such defilement. Having just completed his mandatory two weeks of service, he would then need to return and stand at the Eastern Gate along with the rest of the unclean. Furthermore, in addition to the humiliation involved, the process of restoring ritual purity was time-consuming and costly. It required finding, buying, and reducing a red heifer to ashes, and the ritual took a full week. The priest is in a predicament. Clearly as he approached the battered bleeding victim this “religious” man rather than serving made a self-serving decision.
Have you recently missed an opportunity to serve because you chose instead to be self-serving?
Then there was the Levite, an assistant to the priest, another religious man who should have helped but didn’t. He clearly didn’t want to notice the needy man and if he saw the priest pass by it gave him an excuse for passing by as well. Had he bothered to stop and help the man he would have been seen as unclean and that would be humiliating. He didn’t want to be seen like that.
Has there been a time recently when your need to look good got in the way of doing something good for another?
Contrast those three to the fourth guy, the hero in the story, the despised Samaritan. While the others were worried about how they were seen by people this guy was tuned into seeing the needs of others. So, when he came upon the dying man along the road he saw him and was moved with compassion for his pitiful condition. This Samaritan proves that when you’re not consumed with your needs you will be far more tuned into the needs of others.
Loving people to life begins by seeing people in their need. It’s hard to be sensitive towards others needs if you need to be seen, acknowledged or praised by others.
Today, will you choose to be the Samaritan or the priest or the Levite?