Charles Stanley — A Modern Day Samaritan
Our text is one of the most familiar in all the Bible. In fact, people know about this text who are not even Christians and know very little about the Bible. But they have heard of the Good Samaritan. So, I want us to look at this passage of Scripture from the modern day perspective, because these are certainly days when the spirit of the Samaritan needs to be absolutely evident in all of us who are believers. So, if you'll turn to the tenth chapter of Luke; I want us to read it so we'll have a good background; you understand where we're headed here. And the title of this message is "The Modern Day Samaritan". That's us, we, all of us.
So, beginning in this tenth chapter, and let's start with verse twenty-five. Jesus was speaking, "And a lawyer stood up and put him to the test," putting Jesus to the test, "saying, 'Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?'" Now, this passage is not about how to get saved. It's about revealing to this man what his true attitude was and helping him to see what the issue was in his life while he thought it was something else. He said, "What must I do to inherit eternal life"? "And so He said to him, 'What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?' And he answered, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.'" It's interesting that Jesus said it that way, "And so He said to him, 'You have answered correctly; do this and you shall live.' But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?'" Jesus knew exactly what the problem was.
And so, when you look at that, it's a beautiful setting for what Jesus wanted to teach this man, and that is it's not just the matter of being good and following laws and so forth, it's a matter of the heart. It's who you really are deep down inside. And he got the point when he said, "And who is my neighbor"? So, then, "Jesus replied and said" And this is the way He answered the question. He said, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho," which is about seventeen miles and rugged very dangerous territory. And a three thousand foot drop from Jerusalem down to Jericho, "And he fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead". But that was not an uncommon thing in those days because that strip of road had a lot of caves and places you could slip away and get away. And so, it was sort of common for people to be robbed especially probably at nighttime or whenever it was. "And by a chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side".
Now, here's a person who was offering sacrifices and being very religious in the synagogue and so forth. And when he saw this man half-dead, stripped, naked and he just looked and saw him and just kept going. Scripture says, "Likewise a Levite was also," a person who was responsible for the tabernacle and so forth, "when he came to the place and saw him, he passed by on the other side". So, now, if I had been the man who asked this question, I'd be getting real uneasy where Jesus was headed. Because here are two religious leaders, people who serve the Lord every day, probably lived down in Jericho somewhere and going back up to Jerusalem to serve. And so, both of them, either one of which should have slipped over and said to the man, What's going on and what can I do to help you? They just looked and kept going. Now, the excuse probably was he's half dead, and if you touched a dead person, you were defiled and therefore you couldn't do your job in the temple and sanctuary and so forth. And so, whatever the reason, the Scripture said they looked and kept going.
Now, Jesus had some reasons for placing this here. Then He said, "But a Samaritan who was on a journey". Now, the reason this is here is because he's probably an important person. He was on a journey. That is, he was going somewhere, a destination. Probably had a time limit, whatever it might be. And so, when he, "came upon him; when he saw him, he felt compassion". All three men looked. Two of them kept going; one of them stopped. Two of them just looked, and one stopped, "And he came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast," probably a donkey, "and brought him to an inn and took care of him".
Now, the other two fellows were the religious guys, and so they just kept going. Here's a man who's hated by the Jews, who goes to the Jew who is about to die and does so-and-so, "On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said to him, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.'" Now, listen to this. This must have been a very convicting statement, "'Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers' hands?' And he said, 'The one who showed mercy toward him.' Then Jesus said to him, 'Go and do the same.'"
Now, what I'd like to do with this passage is this. I want us to look at this Good Samaritan, and I'm going to ask you about five or six questions. And I want us all to ask ourselves the question, Would that fit me? Is that what I would do? What am I really like as a Christian every day, not just on Sunday and listening or preaching or whatever it might be. But, what kind of a Samaritan are we? This is the twenty-first century. I know things are not the same. It's a lot worse. In other words, this is one incident on the Jericho road, which there were many no doubt. But think about what happens in our country and how many people who are in need and so forth. And so, with that in mind, I want us to think about what the Good Samaritan really did. In other words, his rightful place would have been this was a Jew. He could just, the last thing he wanted to do is to tangle with a Jew being a Samaritan. And especially, giving him anything or helping him, let him die. They hated each other. But Jesus chose that Samaritan and that Jew for a reason to get across.
So, I want you to think about this and ask yourself the question now, Is this characteristic of your life on a day to day basis as you go along? First thing the Good Samaritan did, he opened his eyes. He looked and he saw this man was in critical condition. He'd been badly beaten, stripped of his clothes, and left partially naked on the side of the road to die. And when he looked, he didn't see the same thing that the two religious men saw. He saw someone who was in terrible need about to die and he didn't look to see if he were a Samaritan or a Jew. He just saw someone who was in great need. And instead of passing down the other side, he stopped. And he could have said, Well, I'm on this journey, and I certainly don't have time to deal with this because, besides that, my life could be endangered because whoever did this to him could do the same thing to me.
So he had lots of things he could have thought, but this Samaritan not only opened his eyes, but he saw something. And he saw something that spoke to his heart. Here is somebody who's about to die, robbed, stripped, left alone naked to die. What shall I do? And seeing, and he was a Jew or Jesus wouldn't have told the story. So, no matter what he was, he stopped. And the second thing I want you to know and ask yourself is when you think about this; he not only saw him, but he opened his heart. He could have said, Well, I don't have time for him, he's a Jew. He opened his heart. And the reason he did is because he looked and he looked with compassion. Somebody's hurt; somebody has been robbed; somebody's dying; and the only thing that mattered was his heart.
Now, when I think about that, I think about his heart probably began to beat a little faster; because he also knew that the same people who did that to him, could do the same thing to him. If they can do this and get away, they could come back and attack him. So, listen to this carefully. His heart was beating faster; his heart was pumping blood; but his spirit was pumping compassion. Something was happening inside this Samaritan's heart. And so, he saw him and the condition he was in. He could have been so afraid to say, Well, the same thing could happen to me. He didn't think about that. His heart was true. Here was someone who was dying in great need, and he was the one person close by who could help him. And so, he was consumed with saving this man's life. He didn't think, Well, what about myself, and am I going to be late? What are they going to think? They're going to wonder about me. He could have asked a thousand questions. The only thing that mattered is this man's dying. He needs help and I'm going to help him.
Now, think about this. All three of them walking and all three of them saw the same thing. But one person saw with a compassionate eye; a compassionate heart. Here's somebody in need; I'm going to help them. He didn't say I will help him if he's a fellow Samaritan. He didn't ask that question. Here's the reason: Because his love knew no prejudice. His love was neutral. His love was godly. Somebody in need needs me and I'm going to help them. So, when I think about that I have to ask myself the question, Did I operate with open eyes? Do you? Do you operate with an open heart? That is, if there's somebody in need, that's the issue, not what color they are; what language they speak; where they're from; that's not the issue. Jesus made this so crystal clear and so simple.
But not only did they have an open heart; he had open hands. Because the Scripture says he went to work immediately, knowing the man was close to death, he could die at any moment. He went to work doing what? Doing the only thing he knew to do, and the best thing he knew to do, and that was to get busy and stop the blood. And so, he pulled out whatever bandages he had and oil he had that he'd carried along with him, because same thing could happen to him. And so, he went to work working on him physically. He didn't say, Well, I'm sorry you are feeling this way and you've been hurt. I'll pray for you and I hope you get along alright. And so, he opened his eyes, he opened his heart, he opened his hands. He got busy. Bandaging up his wounds which must have been many. They'd beat him up, so, so close to death. And poured in oil; and that is, he did everything he knew how to do that he was equipped to do in order to save his life.
And so, when I think about that think about the fact that Scripture says he put him on his donkey, and that's what probably what it was, put him on his donkey. Well, he had to pick him up, that probably wasn't easy, probably heavy. And he got him on his donkey; and decided he was going to save this man's life. He could have easily said, Well, I'm going to bandage you up, that's all I have, and I hope the best for you. That wouldn't have done him any good. He was almost dead. And so, he didn't just give a little help. He was willing to take his time to do what he could do for this person who was in great need, desperate need, close to death, and doing it in a very dangerous place on the Jericho road, full of robbers and thieves at times. And none of that mattered. Here's someone who was in great need and he was going to do all he could. May not be enough, but he was going to try.
And sometimes we think, well, what can I do or I'm not smart enough, or this, that, and the other. The only thing he knew to do was to the bandages and the wine. And then he put him on his donkey and took him to the nearest inn. Well, where was that? I don't know where that was, it could have been a long ways away. But here's the issue. He wasn't going to leave him by the roadside, bandaged and oiled and die. He could have, but he didn't. What do we call him? The Good Samaritan, I love that, the Good Samaritan. Not just the Samaritan, the Good Samaritan. The Jews said, There is no such thing as a good Samaritan. But he was a Good Samaritan; because he did, listen, lot of things somebody else might be able to do, the only thing he knew to do was to bandage him up the best he knew how; pour in wine to help heal him; carry him to somebody who could help him.
And so, that leads me to the next point and that is open possessions. And so, what did he do? Scripture says not thinking about himself, but thinking about the man and knowing that any minute he could die. Put him on his donkey and led him to an inn. You and I would say like a motel, but an inn. And he didn't say, I found this guy; I hope y'all can help him. He said, I'm bringing him to you; take care of him and just tell me what it's all about. And so, he did all he knew to help him. And when I think about that, I think most of the time people want to count. He gave two denarii. He didn't say, Well, how much can I do this for? He gave him whatever it took because that amount of money would take care of him for about three weeks. And so, he was very open; realized the man was hurting, he was dying. He said, I want you to put him in a good bed, take care of him and I'll be back. In other words, it's one thing to say it; it's one thing to feel it; it's something else to do it.
And all of these characteristics for the Good Samaritan should be true of us. Our eyes open to people in need. Our heart open because we care for somebody else. And our open hands because sometimes there are things that we can do; make a difference. And our possessions, listen, most all of us have more than a whole lot of other people in the world. Who don't have anything. And sometimes we probably are more selfish than we realize. And what we have to remember where it came from. Everything, every single thing every single one of us has came from God. He's the source of every good and precious gift; the source of our salvation; the source of our good health.
And if you'll think about it, there's not much you and I can brag about. We are so blessed. It's real easy to be so blessed and not think about people who need a blessing. It's easy to fall into that; because we have what we need. Now, there are always other people who have more than we do. That's not the issue. The issue is what does God want me to do with what I have? How does He want me to share my life? And how does He want me to treat others? And every, if there was ever a time when we should be thinking the way the Samaritan thought, this is it. And then there's something else he opened and that's his time. When he says he was on a journey, Jesus meant that to mean he definitely was on his way somewhere and probably had a time situation involved. But he took the most important time to help somebody to keep him from dying.
There was a need, watch this carefully, he saw the need and then here's the big question: Can we feel the need? It's one thing for me to see it. But can I feel it? Can I feel the need? Can I feel it deep enough to forget what's mine; and to forget where I'm going at this particular time and forget what my schedule is and want to know what does it take? He felt something. He felt something that would not let that man lie there and die. He felt something that he didn't have to count. He says, Here is enough to take care of him for three weeks. I'll be back. He felt something that made him say, Whatever you have spent on this man, I will repay you when I return. That's true, genuine, godly, Christ-like attitude.
And I wonder when I read this passage how many people you and I pass every day who are in need. They don't tell us they're in need. Some people won't tell you when they're in need. How many people we talk to; how many people we listen to; how many people who have needs? But sometimes that person is trying to get our attention on a deeper level than we hear at first. And the reason they keep telling us is because they want to feel they've been heard. I think all of us have been that way about something in our life. I just want to be sure that you feel what I feel. That you understand my hurt and my pain, my suffering, my loss, my misunderstanding. I want to be sure you feel it. Then I'll know that's what matters. When you say, I'll pray for you. I know you will if you feel it.
And think about this. It's easy not to feel somebody else's hurt. And I think all of us need enough hurt and pain in our life that we don't forget it, we don't forget it. And I can think of things in my own life and suffering and so forth. I'm not, this has nothing to do with me compared to him, that's not it. I think about times when I realize how God has used them for my good to help me understand what somebody was really feeling. And I won't give you necessarily the incident. But something that happened in my life that changed my whole attitude. And I began to feel that; what other people were going through. And sometime they don't need anything. They just need to know that you can feel what they feel. And that's the beginning of healing for a lot of people. Finally, somebody's heard me. Finally, somebody knows how I feel. I just want to feel like they understand.
Now, of course, when you and I pray, we know the Lord understands. But there are a lot of people out there. There are people in every church. Everywhere, who go through all kinds of painful things. But you know what? As bad as it was, painful as it was, God used it for my good; because He opened my heart to a level that I had never felt before. A Good Samaritan has feelings, and that's what makes a Good Samaritan be able to stop and take time for somebody else to listen and to feel what they feel. And then, when Jesus concluded all that, He simply said to the man, Go and do likewise.
And when I thought about this and I thought about how simple this passage of Scripture is, but how deep and how demanding it is. We're not talking about how to get saved by being good. We're talking about living a godly life includes helping people who need the Lord Jesus Christ; and who have other needs in their life. People suffering, untold suffering, losing somebody you love; losing your home or your children or whatever it might be. It's heartbreaking. Listen carefully. When your heart can't break, you are in trouble. A broken heart, all of us should be available for our heart to break. We should be able to feel and touch and know in our heart what real pain and suffering heartache is. And so, when I look at this passage and it's a simple story; but the reason it is so familiar is because it happens all the time.
So, I would ask you to think in your own heart, Would you fall in the category of a Good Samaritan? Could it be said of you that you feel, that you'll understand; and knowing and feeling and understanding, you have helping hands, open eyes, and a heart that really and truly goes out. That should be true of all of us, amen? And Father, we thank You for this simple story. Thank You that Jesus knew exactly where to put His finger in this man's life. And I pray that You'll put that awesome finger in our life; that You'll speak to all of us. Whatever You want to say to us; whatever You demand of us, require of us. Pray the Holy Spirit will bring us to being willing to say, Yes, Lord, I'm available. Here am I. Here's what I have. Lord, we want to be true as Your followers. And so, we humble ourselves and say, Yes, Lord. In Jesus' name, amen.