“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when [did we do those things]?” The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” –Matthew 25:35-40
There are four main characters in the parable of the Good Samaritan. First entering the scene is a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho who is stripped, beaten, robbed, and left for dead. Character two and three are the priest and Levite, who each see the man and ignore him. The fourth character is the Samaritan. He sees the man and takes pity on him. He bandages him up, takes the man to be cared for, and pays for his bills while he heals. Jesus ends this parable by asking, “Which one of these guys is acting as a neighbor?” The answer is obvious: the Samaritan.
Who is the man who was beaten? The parable of the Good Samaritan never talks about the identity or past of this man. We do not know if he was wealthy or poor. We do not know if he was a drunkard or a thief. We do not know if he provoked the situation or if he was innocently walking along. What we do know is this: he was a man in need.
At the moment the traveler needed someone to help him, both the priest and the Levite passed him by. Those two left him for dead. It is the Samaritan who acts in the way God would have us act. He does not worry about this man’s past. He simply cares for the needs of the present. The man was hurt. The Samaritan treated his wounds. The man was robbed. The Samaritan paid for his care. The man was in need. The Samaritan took the time to respond.
Is it possible that we look at those who are in need and do not help because we think they deserved what was coming to them? Forget helping the homeless man, as he is probably a drunk. Forget helping the lady next door, as she is cruel and unfriendly. Forget helping my brother, because he never helps me.
Jesus paints a different picture. Instead of looking at the past or appearance or social etiquette of a person who is sick or hungry or thirsty or naked, Jesus says, “In them, see Me.” For when we take care of one of the least of these, we are doing it for Jesus.
1. How can you reach out to those in need with the love of Christ?
2. Why is it imperative for each of us to see Jesus in the face of each person who is in need?
Psalm 113:7-8; Luke 10:30-37; James 2:15-17