One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”
The man answered, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”
The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Jesus replied with a story. (Luke 10: 25-30)
It was a cold, December night as Judy finished working the late shift. The supervisor warned employees not to walk through the parking lot alone, but she was in a hurry. Nearing the car Judy felt rather than heard a presence rushing toward her. Before she could react a rough hand grabbed her by the neck jerking back hard. Both feet left the ground as she felt herself lifted high. Then there was the too brief sensation of free falling through the air as she was flung to the hard pavement. Dazed and in pain, Judy smelled a foul odor of stale cigarettes and cheap wine as the attacker began to loosen the strap of her purse. Before there was time to scream, she saw his scowl and the flash of his knife —
Ed, a pastor in the area was driving home from a long and frustrating meeting at the church when his headlights picked up the attacker who upon seeing Ed’s car left Judy and ran. “Somebody needs help,” thought Ed and he slowed the car down for a moment – and then resumed driving. He said to himself: “It’s late and crime happens. Besides, I could get hurt. Something needs to be done about the violence in this community. Maybe, I can hold a prayer vigil or write the mayor.”
Judy had no idea how many times she had been slashed and stabbed but sensed that somehow she must find help or die. Slowly and painfully, Judy began to crawl toward the nearby street desperate for any passing motorist to see her. Struggling to her feet, in pain and nearly blind from the blood in her eyes, Judy began to stagger down the roadway —
Phyllis was excited about the upcoming Christmas Cantata. The music was in her car so she could practice. “Joy to the World, the Lord is Come,” she sang in perfect harmony with the accompanying voices. So intent on singing, Phyllis almost hit Judy staggering across the roadway. Quickly she swerved the car while simultaneously honking the horn. “Watch where you’re going!” she shouted. After a moment she calmed down and resumed singing, “Let every heart prepare Him room –”
As the car raced by, Judy cried out: “Somebody help me!” collapsed and passed out.
The next few hours were a blur in Judy’s memory, but through the haze she vaguely remembered hearing someone whisper: “It’s okay. You are going to be all right!” As she regained consciousness she noticed the hospital surroundings. A nurse stood nearby looking at monitors. Then Judy realized the tubes and wires from the machines were attached to her. She heard herself asking the nurse: “What happened?”
The nurse looked her way and said, “You were robbed and beaten pretty badly. You’ve also been stabbed several times.”
“How did I get here?” Judy asked.
The nurse smiled and replied, “You were rescued by one of our hospital custodians, Ed Harris. On the way home from work he saw you, called the rescue squad and looked after you. He insisted on staying with you throughout the night to make sure you were all right.”
Jesus then said: “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the one who was attacked?”
The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”
Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.” (Luke 10:36-37)
I believe we are given opportunities to help someone in need almost daily. They are not as dramatic as the one presented here but they are opportunities. How will you respond? Christmas is an especially difficult time for many. How will you offer help?
Will you see the opportunity, slow down for a moment but then continue on your way?
Will you be too busy with your own hectic lifestyle to notice?
Or will you stop whatever you are doing and make a difference for someone in need?
This Christmas, spend time in prayer, attend worship and be alert. “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Will you see?
Will you act?
Be a Good Samaritan for someone today.