The story of the Good Samaritan is one we are all familiar with. Even those who do not know God use the term for anyone acting charitably. The story illustrates the proper attitude of a child of God in their unbiased treatment of those in need. This understanding shows that those who should have shown compassion, withheld it; but that it came from the most-unlikely of sources. We are taught then that we should show compassion to those that are down-trodden, rejected and despised. But let’s look at the story from a different angle.
Suppose the “certain man” travelling to Jericho was himself a well-known thief. Some of his own gang members beat and robbed him. How many times has he done the same to others, leaving them for dead? Maybe he was suspected of trying to double-cross the gang; or maybe he’d been set up. At any rate, it could be argued that “he got what was coming to him.”
Now suppose that a “certain priest” came upon the scene of the crime and was eluding attention. Maybe he was in possession of contraband, or maybe he just didn’t want to be seen coming from a “bad” part of town. It would have been devastating to his reputation if any of his fellow-priests (or his wife) had found out he’d been visiting his mistress. In any case, the priest turned away as soon as he saw the injured man.
The Levite shows a different attitude. At least he did come and look upon the man. Perhaps there was something he could do, such as call a physician. However, we’re told that after he saw the man, he passed on, just like the priest. There may be the indication that the Levite recognized the thief. Maybe he was aware of his gang membership, or what if he had once been a victim of this thief? The Levite may have walked away feeling like justice had been served. Maybe he even praised God for punishing the wicked.
Have we ever been in any of these situations? Like the thief, were we ever hurt by our associates, and in need of a little bit of compassion? Like the priest, did we ever avoid helping others because it posed a potential risk to us? Like the Levite, have we ever turned a blind eye to the distress of another that we perceived as wicked? Each of these men felt justified in their positions; and most of us have been in one of these positions before.
Now suppose the Samaritan to be a wealthy businessman. Let’s say his business carried him far and wide and brought him into contact with different classes of individuals. Unlike the thief, he dealt in Truth. Unlike the priest, he gladly associated with sinners. Unlike the Levite, he could forgive others their wrongs.
Our story shows a progression of spirituality: from the priest who simply saw the thief, to the Levite who saw and considered him, to the Samaritan who went a step further to acting with compassion. This last one is the ideal attitude among Christians, because this is the mind of Christ toward us. Like the thief, we were dead in sins and trespasses. We were shunned by the religious hypocrites. The so-called “good people” felt that we did not “deserve” help. But Christ came to us when we were in that pitiful position and took upon Himself our sin, our shame, our sickness.
When we look at the story of the Good Samaritan from this angle, we see that we were in the position of that thief whose sins found him out. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, (5) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ…” (Ephesians 2:4-5).
Oh, praise the wonders of His Grace that has been shown to us in the Sovereign Act of Redemption. His love reaches out to us when we only deserve judgment. Our Great Samaritan has given to us life, health, and strength; for no good thing that we’ve done, but because of His great love.