The last few posts we’ve been looking at the Parable of the Good Samaritan. In my first post I pointed out that we are in the street, we are not the Samaritan. In the next post I posed the question of why we pass by those in need. Finally in my last post I shared with you how many of the Church Fathers in the early church commented on the parable.
It is that last post that I want to follow up on today. To recap that post: We are in the street and Jesus is the Samaritan who leaves His space to come and rescue us, heal us and pay for us – as well as promised to come back.
Now the question is sort of so what. In other words, yes that’s an incredible thought and may well be right, but how does that impact us other than hearing it. What are we to do with it.
As I think about our current culture and all that is going on, as well as all that we in the Church are trying to do out there, one thought stood out to me. This is surely not the only application, but I believe this could be from the Lord so humor me.
If you think about what it would have meant for the Jews listening to hear that the Samaritan was the hero – and for that matter that the Messiah was represented by a Samaritan in the story – that had to be hard to swallow. It was WAY out of their comfort zone.
We live in a divided culture, and really in an amazing yet crazy way in the midst of many different cultures clashing all at once. Even within the Church. So as I asked in the first post; who is the Samaritan to you. And . . . that said, would you let someone from that group be Jesus to you? Here’s what I mean.
I think in Western Christian culture we have been taught to “Be Jesus” to others. And I think that’s actually really, really good. It’s exactly what we are called to do. It’s part of who we are created to be from the beginning. To represent God to the world. This is all over Scripture. From Genesis to Revelation. He created Adam and Eve to do it. He chose Abraham and Israel to do it. And when Jesus comes and rises from the dead, He institutes His Church to do it. To spread the news. To represent Him to the world. To everyone we meet.
Now we’re not always good at this. We misrepresent Jesus sometimes. We only represent Him to people we like sometimes. We use this command for bad things sometimes. We do it wrong just because we aren’t Him sometimes. No Doubt!!
But on the other hand we are here talking about it over 2000 years later because of that command and initiative. It’s created far more good than bad and it’s not close. It’s helped people who became Christian because of it and those who didn’t.
We are indeed called to “Be Jesus” to everyone we meet every single day. Lord help us do that better. But the problem is that it is only one part of the story of what we need to do. It’s the part we are most comfortable with. And worse of all, it can lead to self righteousness when it is the only way we view ourselves in relation to others.
The second thing that many in the Western Church might understand is the idea of whatever we do we do it to Jesus. This is what Mother Teressa meant when she said we do the work to Jesus. She meant it literally.
This comes from Matthew 25 where Jesus talks about the sheep and the goats. At the end of time in the final judgment the son of man will separate the sheep on his right and the goats on the left. How does he decide? By what they did to Him. He says to the sheep on his right, “I was hungry and you fed me, I was naked and you clothed me . . . What you did for the least of these you did unto me.” And to those on the left he says, “I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was naked and you didn’t clothe me. . . What you did not do for the least of these you did not do for me.”
Jesus is at the least saying, treat the least of these as if it were me. I think he’s saying more than that metaphysically but bottom line at the least He is saying that we will be judged in this way. It’s an extremely sobering passage.
Jesus is after all the suffering servant. He identifies with those who suffer. Shouldn’t we? This isn’t limited to physical needs by the way. I think it’s fair to suggest you could add, “I was lonely and you spoke to me. I was of the trash man and you respected me. I was afraid and you comforted me.” We could do this all day.
Again who is the person or group you despise and how do you treat them. Would you clothe them? Speak to them? Comfort them?
I think we get this a little in the Western Church culture. I think we’ve actually grown in this over the last couple of decades honestly. We don’t get it as well as “being Jesus” but we at least talk about it.
If all of this wasn’t uncomfortable enough, I’ve got one more for you. That is this, we need to let others be Jesus to us. That’s the next post.