The Good Samaritan 2017 Update
By Fred Pruitt
(This is originally from my book, “Hearts of Flesh,” published 2005. I can’t update the book, but this is a revision that seems appropriate to me at this time.)
Jesus said, “Love your neighbor,” and someone in the crowd asked, “Well then, who is my neighbor?” He answered the question of “Who is my neighbor?” by telling what has come down to us as the story of the “Good Samaritan.”
We have most often seen it as a moral tale. The focus is on the action of the Samaritan, an outcast* in Jewish society at the time, who, unlike many good moral and religious people who passed him by, showed mercy toward a man who had been beaten and robbed, and then left to die by the side of the road. It is told as a story about how one should act if one is to be “Christ-like.”
But now we consider the wounded man himself.
Do we not realize that just as the Samaritan is Christ, the wounded man is also Christ?
Emmanuel has allowed himself to be disguised under dirt, blood, vomit, and excrement. In Man He has allowed Himself to be wounded, to be stripped of His heavenly raiment by robbers, to bleed naked on the side of the road, to stink, to be repellent and abhorrent to the sight of other men, so that they dare not dirty themselves by touching him and so pass by on the other side of the road.
“Insomuch as ye do unto the least of these my brethren, ye do it unto Me.” (Matt 25:31-46)
When He said that, He was not being figurative. He was being absolutely literal.
The wounded man, beaten, robbed, disrobed and dying naked by the side of the road, is all of us, the masses of humanity, every man woman and child who is living now, or in the past or future — Germans, Poles, Russians, Czechs, Japanese, Chinese, Burmese, Arabian, Afghani, Pakistani, English, Iraqi, Persian, French, Italian, Koreans, Iranians, Laotians, Malaysians, Vietnamese, Haitians, Cubans, Mexicans, Africans, Romans, Greeks, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Shintos, Hindus, Republicans, Democrats, Nazis, Communists and millions more including Americans! And all of that swirling sea of hurting humanity is the wounded Christ, Christ whose heel has been bruised in bringing many sons to glory, Christ Who is the Man of Sorrows, who bears our iniquities in His own body hanging from a Cross, who takes it all into Himself, not figuratively, but literally.
It was not by some legal contract — “If you perform this act, I’ll forgive everybody and make everybody who believes a son of God” — but by virtue of the fact that He is all that we are, by the will of the Father, and thereby is present and living in all the sorrows, hurts, iniquities, hatreds, violence and contradictions of his created sons. He is continually taking them into Himself by means of our lives, and then filling the whole of our earthly existence with Heaven. (If our eyes were open for but a glance, we would see it! See it in your faith – it is real and true.)
So it is then Christ as the Samaritan, Who finds Christ in the wounded man by the side of the road, Who binds up His Wounds and pays the price for His recovery. In both He bears the stink, the revulsion, the sorrow, and the healing. The Samaritan no doubt got the stench of the wounded man on him when he picked him up and took him to the inn. But no matter. It was Christ bearing Christ.
We bear the stench of the earthly. It’s a good smell. It has the aroma of life to it. The smell of a farm. There is sweat, pain, sorrow and disappointment, as well as cool breezes in the summer, pleasures and joys, and dreams fulfilled.
Mother Teresa used to say that in the dying outcasts of Calcutta, who she took without question or regard for payment or budgetary concerns into her hospice, she saw the face of Jesus. She said it didn’t matter to her if they were Christian, Catholic, Hindu, Muslim, Illegal Immigrants, Homosexuals or none of the above. All she saw was Christ!!!
They were the “least of these,” but she knew that they were the “brethren” of the Living Christ, and her ministrations to those poor were literal ministrations to the Living Christ.
To live in the world is to live Christ, which means we are whatever we need to be in order to reveal the Father to others. It means we are wounded, hurt and bleeding sometimes, and other times we pick up the hurt and bleeding and help them on their way.
Either way, we are Christ living. We are the Living Purpose of the Father, a mission of perfect love, which comes from no attainment on our part whatsoever except the grace-given contriteness of heart which says there is only One Will, and that is, “You O God!” By His grace and wisdom He has created us to be living expressions of Himself through no effort on our part to “become something” on our own, in a mystery of union of persons too deep for words.
Let us not debate it, argue over it, analyze it, but just live it. Live Him.
*”Outcast” is a weak word. Samaritans were hated by the people of Israel in that time. They were thought to be a mongrel race, a mixture of Canaanites with members of some of the “lost tribes.” They believed their holy place to be a certain mountain (re “woman at the well”) and they should offer sacrifices there, rather than in Jerusalem where the Temple of Herod stood. They both claimed to believe in the same God, YHWH, and both claimed the other to be in error and cursed by God. Not trying to stir up trouble here, but at the moment one of the best candidates for filling the Samaritan’s role in our “Christian society,” could be muslims. It really doesn’t hit home so much with us in our time since Samaritans don’t live in our time. The Jewish hearers of Jesus could have been greatly offended with Jesus using the Samaritan as His example, but us, not so much. However, I can pretty much count on if the story were told today and a Muslim man took the place of a Samaritan in the story, it could cause some great offense. Go ahead, be offended. But remember, Jesus said, “And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me.” (Luke 7:23).