It’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood…So Get Off the Donkey!

BIBLE SCRIPTURE:  Luke 10:30-32

[30]  In reply Jesus said:  “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits.  They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.”

[31]  “By chance a priest came along.  But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by.  [32]  A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.”  (New Living Translation – NLT)

The story Jesus told is something that could really happen.  In fact, it does really happen all the time.  When we read or hear the story of the Good Samaritan in our bibles, we tend to look down on the Priest and Levite being so heartless and selfish in their thought process.

But in taking a deeper look and asking:  “Is there ever a legitimate reason to stay on your donkey and pass on by?”

My wife and I have had requests over the years from several churches we’ve been a part of for taking a meal or two in helping someone who was in need–sickness, death in the family or financial assistance, to someone going through cancer treatments and their insurance company, through work, didn’t cover all of the costs.  And to be really honest here, my enthusiasm wavered at times (not my wife’s) in helping.  I had become cynical in my doing from past experiences of ingratitude by those we helped.  I had to let it be known, I would go ahead and help this time, but in doing so, complained as I drove over to their homes.

I didn’t want to get off my donkey one bit.

Maybe that’s how the Priest and the Levite were in the story Jesus told.  I’m sure they must have had some logical reason to pass on by when they saw the man bleeding and naked lying on the side of the road.

HERE ARE BUT A FEW OF THE POSSIBLE REASONS –

#1.  DEFILEMENT:  

One of the reasons may have been that they have disqualified themselves from temple service by handling blood or a dead body.  “YUCK”!  For a Priest or Levite, Temple Work is a career job.  Helping the injured man would have made them “ceremonially unclean”.  They had places to go and ministry to perform…for God no less!  Surely that was more important than helping some stranger by the road they didn’t even know.

#2.  DANGER:

Another likely reason they passed on by was that on that stretch of road it was dangerous for travelers.  This was a road people avoided if they could because it was a hilly, wandering road out in the middle of nowhere!

They knew about the thieves and robbers who hid out along this stretch of road.  If the Priest and Levite had more time, more money, they would have avoided the road altogether.  No doubt, they had heard of gangs setting traps by placing a seemingly injured person, who was actually part of the gang, by the side of the road.  The Priest and Levite were too savvy to fall for that kind of trick.  No way were they going to allow themselves to be unsuspecting travelers, stopping to give aid while the rest of the gang, hiding in the bushes, pounced upon the helpless rescuer.

#3.  DELAY:

It’s just possible that the reason these two passed on by was a simple matter as time restraints.  They were on a schedule.  Maybe they were running late.  Frequently we find ourselves held captive by tight schedules:  Work, our kid’s sports activities, church meetings…you know what I’m talking about.  At times, we feel like we’re racing through our days and can’t ever catch up!  We’ve got our poor old donkeys running full speed ahead.  We don’t have time to even notice the guy by the side of the road, much less stop and give a helping hand.

It’s easy to see the Priest and Levite had at least 3 logical reasons to walk on by.

As many times as we have heard pastor’s sermons regarding the Good Samaritan, we’ve blasted them, for their CHOICES.  I know I can’t say “yes” to everyone who asks me for a helping hand.  I can’t do everything anyone asks me to do.  None of us can!

The fact is that everything you say “yes” to… is something else you had to say “no” to.

So, Who Is Your Neighbor–Who’s MY Neighbor?

The LAWYER in Luke 10 finds himself ‘questioning’ Jesus, not asking questions to clarify his understanding.  There’s a big difference.  [See htttp://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/asking-or-questi…re-a-difference/ ]

In Marvin Vincent’s Word Studies, the words directed to Jesus in verse 27 is responding to loving his neighbor: “And he, determined to account himself of reproach, said to Jesus…AND WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?”

WHO WERE THE SAMARITAN NEIGHBORS?

ISRAEL’S next door neighbors occupied the country formerly belonging to the tribe of Ephraim and the half-tribe of Manasseh.  The capital of the country was Samaria.  When the ten tribes were carried away to Assyria, the king of Assyria sent people from the surrounding conquered countries to inhabit Samaria (2 Kings 17:24; Ezra 4:2-11).  These foreigners intermarried with the Israelite population that was still in and around Samaria.  These “Samaritans” at first, worshipped the idols of their own nations, but being troubled with lions, supposed it was because they had not honored the God of that territory.  So a Jewish priest was therefore sent to them from Assyria to instruct them in the Jewish religion.  They were instructed from the 5 Books of Moses but still retained many of their idolatrous customs.  The SAMARITAN neighbors had embraced a RELIGION of a mixture of Judaism and idolatry (2 Kings 17:26-28).  Since the Israelite inhabitants of Samaria had intermarried with the foreigners and adopted their idolatrous religion, SAMARITANS were generally considered “half-breeds” and were universally DESPISED by the Jews [See Footnote [i] ].

If We Are “Neighbors,” then What Kind of Neighbors Are We?

A SPIRITUAL AWAKENING.

Earlier this month, my wife had extensive surgery at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, Washington.  This facility is over 100 miles in each direction from our home and as you near the surgery center, the traffic conditions can stress out even the calmest person.

Because of the distance, we had been planning out the details for some time ahead of the scheduled surgery; thinking about lodging for me while she stayed overnight in the hospital.  My son and his wife live about 45 minutes away from the Surgery Center, making my stay comfortable.

My wife also planned out some meals for us when we returned home with a stocked pantry, and things seemed to be in place.  So when we finally returned home (very uncomfortable car ride for over two hours), we picked up our dog at the kennel and tried to settle in.

WHO’S YOUR NEIGHBOR?

The next morning, my wife received a call from a neighbor that lives behind our home:  “Hi Dianne.  I noticed when you got home yesterday that you were in some pain and discomfort.  Is there a problem?”  She explained the details of her surgery.

Our neighbor responded with concern, “We would like to furnish you both with meals for a few days and walk your dog twice during the day as well.”   My wife was surprised at the offer from a neighbor we knew in passing only, saying “Thank you.  You are so kind in your offer.  But my husband is really a good cook, so we should be just fine!”

The conversation didn’t end here with our neighbor:

“We think your husband needs a break while looking after you.  Do you guys have any dietary restrictions?”  “No”, my wife answered, and the next two days we had home prepared hot meals and our feisty little dog had his daily two walks…in the RAIN…without a complaint from our neighbor.  What a blessing.

Now you might be thinking at this point what was the great SPIRITUAL AWAKENING and, what does your neighbor and the Good Samaritan have in common?

Luke 10:33 –  “when he saw him, he was moved…”

The Samaritan noticed the man in need alongside the road.  He could have remained on his donkey and said, “Is there anything you’re in need of?  No?  When I get to my town, I’ll ask the church to pray for you.  Don’t forget, let us know if you need anything.  God bless!”

Now don’t get me wrong here.  I’m not saying that asking if you can help one in need and praying for that person isn’t necessary.  What I’m saying is, putting your FAITH into action speaks much louder than words only.  With over 40 years of sales experience, I learned a valuable lesson:  Don’t ASK questions that a person can answer “NO” to:  “Do you need anything?”  Our questions should begin with the letter “W”:  “When do you folks eat dinner, 5, 6 in the evening?”  I think you get the idea!

Verse 34 –  The Samaritan got off the donkey!

“He went to him and dressed his wounds, pouring on [them] oil and wine.  Then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn and took care of him”  (Amplified Bible).

BUT WAIT!  THERE’S MORE!!

Verse 35 –  Good Neighbors go beyond what’s asked for!

“And the next day he took out two denarii [two day’s wages] and gave [them] to the innkeeper, saying,  Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I [myself] will repay you when I return.”

Most of us when in need, whether from ill-health, financial distress, death in the family, when asked by others if they can help in a particular way will answer “No, thank you.  We’re fine.”  So the inquirer responds in kind while still sitting on the donkey,  “Okay, but if you need anything, call us,” and it ends there.

So who are my “Samaritan Neighbors”?  Did I really know who they were?

Our two loving neighbors are openly Lesbians.  As a Christian and lover of God’s Word, homosexuality IS CONDEMNED!  [Romans 1:26-28; Jude 1:7; 1 Tim. 1:10-11; Mark 19:6-9; 1 Cor. 7:2; 1 Cor. 6:9; Lev. 18:22, 20:13].

But as BELIEVERS, we should hate ALL SIN…but LOVE the SINNER, as hard as that might be to swallow at times!

I made calls to our church the moment we returned from the hospital to say we wouldn’t be in church for a while because of my wife’s surgery and didn’t want them to worry that we had left the church for some reason.

PASTOR’S RESPONSE:  “Thanks for letting us know.  If you need anything, let us know!”

It’s been over two weeks now, and not one phone call, not one visit from the assembly and one more thing…not a phone call from our own children since their mother’s hospital stay!

I’m not angry, I’m sad and disappointed that the”religious”…the priest and the Levite…have remained seated on the donkey as I have been over the past years.  I have held out my hands with this and giving it to the Lord in forgiveness.  NO MORE, LORD!

God’s Spirit has clearly spoken to my wife and I, through all this.  The next time you know of someone in need in the community, LOVE them through Christ Jesus and get down from the donkey and put your FAITH into ACTION; preparing meals without asking, dropping by their house and giving them support, even if it’s just holding their hand and saying nothing (Job 2:13).  If they reject your LOVE, that’s okay.  For God will say to you, “You are not doing this just for them.  You are doing this because I first loved you!”

MATTHEW 25:35-40

verse 40:  And the King will reply to them, “Truly I tell you, in so far as you did it for one of the least [in the estimation of men] of these My brethren, you did it for Me.

 

__________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS & FOOTNOTES

Footnote [i] :  GotQuestions.org  “Who were the Samaritans?”

Music/Video:  YouTube – “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood” – Mr. Rogers Television Show for kids.

Photos:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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9 Replies to “It’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood…So Get Off the Donkey!”

  1. Oh my. How many times I have fallen short. How forgiving is our God! Very valid points that are so relevant in today’s world. We live in a neighborhood where we hardly know one another. I’ve tried to change that from time to time, but in fairness, the neighbors were sadly unavailable. How we need Jesus!

  2. Thanks for this thought Mel. This reminds me “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” In modern day language, I can get busy writing blogs, attending church, preaching sermons but if I do not put my love in action I am nothing. Thanks for this powerful thought.

  3. “Great! Now I have guilt!” – Rex, Toy Story
    More like “Ouch! I stand convicted!” Thank you, Mel, for the heart-tugging truth and for your transparency. I can surely identify with you in regards to responding to the “needy,” especially in a callous, ungrateful, entitled, parasitic, and exploitful society like ours. Most people will consider me to be a doer, a facilitator, someone they can depend on. But that does not mean that I too struggle with getting off my donl\key at times. I confess I have purposely done so, on occasions, in order to justify my more “spiritual” responsibilities. Yet, I stand here in repentance knowing that if I can respond, I should. It’s true that we cannot accommodate everyone, but with a little wisdom, discernment, and a BIG heart God can use to be a true extension of Jesus’ hands and feet. Thanks again, for bringing this popular story close to home. Love you, brother! Keep shinning God’s Truth!

  4. This is one of my very favorite posts I’ve ever read…and I’ve been blogging since 2008! To me, this is the essence of being a Christian. If you can’t put your money where your mouth is don’t come knocking on my door…

  5. What a blessing your neighbor has been to you during the recovery time! Thank you for sharing your experience so that we might be motivated to love others well in a similar fashion! Such a sad indictment against the church too… that we would rather send money, or pray rather than actually being the hands and feet of Christ to those who are in need, or who just need to feel loved! We can so easily excuse ourselves from reaching out, rationalizing that ‘someone else’ will help out, but if we ‘got off our donkey’ like your neighbor did to help those around us, we couldn’t fill churches large enough to hold all the people who would come! I hope your wife is recovering and back on her feet soon!

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