The Good Samaritan 2018 Update
By Fred Pruitt
To listen to audio: The Good Samaritan 2018
(This is originally from my book, Hearts of Flesh, published 2005. Though I’ve reposted this several times since then, and tweaked it a time or two, this version has completely new passages. Most of the original is still intact as it was, but I’ve added quite a few new bits here and there. Hopefully I am communicating something of this sort of “fresh seeing” I’ve been having while re-looking at this article along with other things occurring at the moment. Also the first time making an audio of this. And another “also,” I kinda go a little bit “preacher crazy” toward the last part on the audio and don’t always stick to the text.)
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.
(“He became Sin, the One Who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” — 2 Cor 5:21. Would some say, “Yes, but that happened at the Cross,” and I could only reply, “The Cross was alive in Him throughout His physical life,” and everyday He knew it in His deepest depths.
“But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” He didn’t despise them. He didn’t want to get away from them. He felt what they felt. He knew what they knew. Every moment of His life Among us was a continual intaking of everything in the world that might be reconciled, as well as a continuous outpouring for those with eyes to see and ears to hear, of the Life, Power, Spirit and Love of the Father. The hurt goes in. The joy comes out.)
“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, Native Americans and First Nations, 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, to become 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. Hint: it isn’t outside of you.)
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.
(My dad was born on a farm in rural Alabama in 1929. He told me he never had a pair of shoes before they moved off the farm to Rome, GA, about 50 miles away, in 1940. My grandfather, “Pop,” started a grocery store then, 1940s version.
(Once I asked Dad how did Pop come by the money to move to Rome and start a grocery store. He answered, “He sold a lot of ‘Corn.’” This is the same dad that told me to, “Learn at lunch,” when I told him I didn’t know how to drive a straight shift, before I had to drive the company pickup 10 or so miles back home through Atlanta. So I’ve always taken his comment to mean that Pop, like so many farmers did to make ends meet in the 30s, sold a little ‘shine’ on the side. Maybe, I don’t know.
(Whatever. It got them to Rome and saved me from being a farmer. I’m not sure I have that in me. My dad told me they became more successful than most of the other stores around Rome because he or his brother, Herbert, would drive to the south side of Atlanta, about 100 miles away, to the State Farmer’s Market. They’d pick up fresh fruit and vegetables twice a week, whatever they had, and pretty soon people started shopping with them for the fresh produce.
(By the time I came along, Pop had sold the store and was in the monument business. But those little neighborhood grocery stores were still going strong through the 50s when I grew up, so I remember them. They were the size of a typical small house, wooden floors, ceiling fans going in the hot weather, barely moving the air. Smells of all sorts. Some citrus from a few oranges in a crate, to the butcher block smells from the meat counter in the back. One I especially remember was a true “Mom and Pop” establishment, directly across the street from my Uncle Tom’s medical office, where I spent many hours being “watched” by my grandmother, Mama Jo, who was [Great] Uncle Tom’s sister and bookkeeper. So lots of times I got to walk across the street to get something with the money Mama Jo gave me, maybe a pixie stix, or some peanut butter logs, or any new Superman Comics they had. I think they were Mr. & Mrs. Bradshaw. They both wore glasses and looked old to me, but they were probably in their 40s or 50s! Mr. Bradshaw would usually be behind the meat counter if he wasn’t getting something from the storeroom, while Mrs. Bradshaw ran the cash register and chatted with the customers. Everybody knew everybody.)
So – C’est la vie! Along with those lovely things … There is the sweat, there is the pain, there is the sorrow and the disappointment, sometimes maybe through many days. All of that, good and bad, we might bear as badges, or display as scars.
But even in the midst of all that – sometimes – there are still cool breezes in the summer. The wind still rustles the leaves in the Fall. It will always do that. So always there are pleasures and joys coming in the seasons in which they come, and memories of wonderful things and of dreams still being dreamed.
Mother Teresa used to say that in the dying outcasts of Calcutta, whom she took in without question or regard for payment, budgetary concerns or even “religion,” into her hospice – in every one of them she saw the face of Jesus! To her it didn’t matter if they were Christian, Catholic, Hindu, Muslim, strangers from afar, 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. Sometimes it means that we are the wounded ones, hurt and bleeding for a season, and other times we pick up the hurt and bleeding and see 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, all in a mystery of a union of persons that is too deep for words.
The ”older” I get, I see this more and more. There is a rest. There is an abandonment. There is an unrelenting love, and in its patience, it knows it has already won the day. So that’s where we live.
Let us not debate it, argue over it, analyze it, but just live it. Live Him.
The Samaritan situation really doesn’t hit home so much with us 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. I do not say that in a mean-spirited way, but only to remind us all to be ourselves, i.e., be the honest “you” you are. And to also remember what Mother Teresa said, as well as a certain British missionary I used to know, which is, “All I see is Christ!”
“And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me.” (Luke 7:23).
*”It was Christ bearing Christ.” What do I mean?
Fair question. When I wrote the above, listing every nation or human social or political grouping I could think of, and said of them, the “swirling sea of hurting humanity is the wounded Christ,” I meant exactly that. It is where He is wounded in His Heel. Remember when the Lord God addressed the serpent in the Garden, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Gen 3:15). It was the everyday experience of Jesus as part of His intercession, and through Him by the Spirit it has become ours as well. It is Christ continuing His intercession in humanity that we might all stand in the gap for each other. That’s what Paul was talking about when he says we, “Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” (2 Cor 4:10).
Why do you see “all” there? Because they are “all” there. Understand, the “swirling sea” is not heaven or the kingdom of God. It is the kingdom of this world. And in this world, as the song says, “love hurts.” Everybody in this world is living in some degree of soul/spirit pain wanting to be released into joy. And everyone in that sea, has access to the grace that is in the world through faith and it is in everyone to find.
And that’s where that “fresh seeing” I mentioned begins. It’s the same as the old Thomas Merton “Moment” at Fourth and Walnut in downtown Louisville, when he was suddenly struck with something akin to a “vision,” in that everyone he saw walking around him and to and fro through that busy city area, were “all walking around shining like the sun.” Writing about it later, he said, “Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are.”
That’s what the Spirit has been given me to “see” lately. Forget dividing them up according to any measuring stick I can think of. From here I have no problem saying everyone, everyone, walks around shining like the sun. Norman used to call it the top level. We remember our foundations when we see the view from the top, and we do not negate those foundations. What we have believed and spoken before when it is time we will speak them again.
But in the “I see only Christ” sight, or the “I don’t see evil,” sight, it isn’t a matter of dogma but only seeing what there is to see. They ain’t no dogma up here! (Sorry to you English grammar-philes.)
Same as in the middle of the City of God in the last two chapters of The Apocalypse. There was no temple, neither a need for a big light in the sky (the sun) for day, nor the lesser light in the sky (the moon and stars) because the Lamb is the Light.
God’s blessings, everyone!
Rest is seeing truly, that God IS All in all, and that everything He made is “very good.”
(For a printed copy of Hearts of Flesh for purchase, or a free pdf file of the whole book, click here for details: Here)