Sun, Jul 10, 2022

Do likewise?

A story sermon on 'the Good Samaritan'
Duration:12 mins 59 secs

When you’re young, it’s common to feel indestructible.

Like… nothing bad is ever going to happen to you.

Fit… healthy… in the prime of life…

you know better.

You don’t listen to others.

You take foolish risks and you do stupid things.

Most of us probably have, at some time or other.

Haven’t we?

If we’re lucky… nothing bad happens––

nothing with serious consequences, that is––

nothing we end up regretting.

And, eventually, we grow up and we grow out of it.

But, if we’re not so lucky……

really should’ve known better.

But I was young and foolhardy…

cocky and full of bravado…




the sun was just peeking over the mountains,

flooding the Jordan valley with golden light,

as I set out from home.

My large, old leather bag slung over one shoulder.

Filled with a loaf of bread…

a small wineskin…

and some pottery pieces I’d made to take to market:

a few fine goblets, decorated with grapes and leaves;

a jug… 

and a couple of small, glazed bowls.

My finest work to date.


if they sold well… 

who knows?

For a poor artisan, this could be a big break.

They ought to fetch a good price down in Jericho.

After all, it’s a thriving oasis; 

a playground for the rich and famous—

filled with palaces, pools, and the finest entertainments. 

It’s a good place to make a killing.

But taking the road from Jerusalem to Jericho is… risky…

especially alone… 

and on foot.

It’s dangerous country.

Full of robbers and bandits.

People forced to thieve because they’ve lost their land and livelihood…

making them desperate.

Almost every day, there are reports of robberies and muggings.

knew it was dangerous.

knew it was risky.

And, deep down, I probably knew it was foolish.

But I didn’t care.

I never expected—

never dreamed

it would happen to me.

After all, I was young and indestructible.


So, I didn’t really give it much thought.

As I started down that long, slow, descending road…

toward Jericho at the bottom of the Jordan valley…

alongside the Dead Sea;

down through the rugged, barren hills,

and along the narrow, rocky passes…

really wasn’t worried about robbers at all.

Truth be told…

my thoughts were more occupied with how much I’d make at market…

as I wandered down the road in my own little thought-bubble.


Suddenly, two men leapt out…

from behind some rocks… 

just in front of me.

And they stood there, blocking the road.

They were wild-looking:

haggard and dishevelled;

crudely dressed in ragged clothes;

in need of a darn-good wash.

I almost had a heart attack!

Casting a furtive glance back over my shoulder, I saw another one.

Behind me.

“Err… can I help ya fellows?”

I said a little nervously.

“Yeah! Give us ya bag, mate.

And ya sandals”.

“Why? I’ve got nothing of value. 

I’m just a poor potter.

Why don’t ya wait for one of them rich-fellas from town?

There oughta be one along soon”.

But, clearly, I wasn’t being very persuasive…

‘cause the two in front started edging closer.

I spun around…

and charged at the one behind me…

knocking him clean over…

onto his backside.

But, the next thing I knew, I had a mouth full of dust.

As my feet were taken out from behind.

I don’t remember much of what happened next.

Except that it hurt… 

a lot.

Fists and feet reigning blows all over me.

They took my leather bag with my food and all my best bits of pottery.

They took my sandals––

even my well-worn tunic.

Everything I had!

Leaving me with shattered hopes and wounded pride.

Battered, bloodied, and broken. 





I don’t know how long I lay there like that…

drifting in and out of consciousness.


I could feel the heat of the sun beginning to bite;

And I was vaguely aware of the flies congregating around the congealing blood on my face.

In my flashes of semi-lucidity, I just hoped someone would come by…


before the heat took its toll.

But, in reality, I didn’t hold much hope.

Unable to speak…

unconscious and unrecognisable…

and naked…

I had become a nobody…

a nothing.

In our society, you’re identified by your appearance:

by how you look and what you wear…

and how you speak…

and where you’re from. 

There was nothing now to indicate who I was…

or where I belonged.

So, I wasn’t surprised when people started passing by.


Like that Priest. 

Or that Levite.

Both returning to Jericho after fulfilling their religious duties.

After all… 

they’re rich, respectable men…

draped in the finest robes and riding elegant horses. 

They had no way of knowing who I was.

They wouldn’t have wanted to touch someone who might turn out to be a Gentile––

even if they did so accidentally.

Besides, astride their horses, they would’ve assumed I was dead.

So they didn’t stop.

And, honestly, who could blame them? 

After all, it wasn’t safe––

they might get attacked too…

and end up like me.


Still drifting in and out of consciousness…

an extraordinary thing happened…

someone actually did stop.

A small man on a donkey.

He smelled funny.

And he spoke with a heavy but unmistakable accent.

He was a Samaritan.

I moaned and wriggled when he touched me.

Was he simply coming to finish me off?

After all…

we Israelites are brought up to despise Samaritans.

They’re dirty, unethical, irreligious…

and they can’t be trusted.

Or, so we’re taught.

And they hate us, as much as we hate them.


But, here was this man, deeply moved.

Tears welling in his eyes as he knelt over me,

brushing the drying blood from my face,

and dressing my wounds with his wine and oil.

I don’t remember much.

Only snippets.

Slung over his donkey.

Bouncing around.

A noisy, wayside inn…

filled with all sorts of unseemly characters…

and a smarmy inn-keeper.

But they looked after me…

‘til I was back on my feet again.

That strange, little Samaritan man had paid them a large sum to do so.

Boy! He’d taken a huge risk.

Stopping and helping.

Using up his own limited supplies on me.

Then paying, no doubt, a small fortune…

and even promising to pay more if it was needed…

next time he passed through.


But he didn’t leave a note.

I had no way to contact him.

Or to pay him back.

Within our culture…

that’s like…

he treated me as if I were family! 




What sort of a person would do something like that?


Ignore their personal safety…

and pay out hard-earned money…

for some stranger lying by the side of the road…

a foreigner…

someone who…

if the circumstances were reversed…

would have probably walked passed just as quickly as that Priest or Levite…

if not adding a <sound of spitting>




Why would someone treat someone else like that?


What motivates someone to show such love and compassion?


It really doesn’t make any sense.

That’s not how we’ve been brought up to act towards those who aren’t like “me and mine”.


Next, you’ll be telling me… 

that’s what God is like…


expecting me to do likewise!!

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