Our Good Samaritan

by Edie Wadsworth on January 25, 2010

I woke up Saturday morning with a raging head cold.   I’ve used {roughly} 11,234 ‘puffs with lotion’ tissues, a full tube of chapstick and bottle of kids’ cold medicine.  Too bad I don’t know a good doctor.   Adding insult to injury,  the Vikings got beat, my dirty wet dogs are ruining my school room  and my new fangled bangs  look like ‘Farrah Fawcett meets Joe Dirt’.   I had forty seven posts in my head on Friday and today—I’ve got nothing.    So I’m reposting from last January on a timely subject of the good samaritan.   The devastation in Haiti has left us all feeling desperately hamstrung with what to do and how to help.   We sometimes pat ourselves on the back for our ‘good samaritan-ly’ works.  I hope this post will rescue us all from ourselves and free us to see who the Good Samaritan really is.

What were you taught about parables?  Earthly stories with heavenly meanings?   True enough I guess.  But why would Jesus speak in parables?   Why didn’t he just give us a clear cut list of what He wanted us to do?   Jesus himself answers that question when he say,  ”….so that you can know the mysteries of the kingdom”.
According to one of my favorite teachers Bill Cwirla,
‘He will hide the kingdom of God in earthly stories…and you won’t ‘get it’ until you get Jesus…..these parables are a crisis of faith and unbelief and you will not ‘get them’ until you get Jesus and who He is and why He came. “
This is what I love about the Lutheran theologians, they cut right to the chase when interpreting the scriptures.   Where is Jesus in this parable?  Jesus said ‘these are the scriptures that testify about me,’   so they look for Him—-relentlessly.   I was always taught to look for myself in the parable.  I was taught that they are little  proverbs or stories of advice on how I should live.  So the parable of the Good Samaritan would be translated something like,
“You should be a Good Samaritan too and help your neighbor.  So what kind of a neighbor are you?”
Is this how you were taught to interpret parables?  Inserting yourself into them at every turn?
The story of the good samaritan can be paraphrased as follows.
A lawyer (expert in the Torah) asks Jesus what he must DO to inherit eternal life. (Although we’re already in trouble because isn’t an inheritance a gift).  Then Jesus asks him what he thinks he must do.
He says, “Love God and love my neighbor”.
Jesus says “Yes, do this and you will live”.
Jesus knows the lawyer can’t DO that but Jesus is a gentleman and will let us live by ‘the law’ if we choose.
The lawyer ‘wanting to justify himself’ says  ”Well who is my neighbor?”.
And then Jesus tells the parable:  A priest and a Levite,on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, pass a nearly dead man who has been robbed and beaten and left to die.  They pass him by for various reasons (per Jewish law they would have been rendered unclean for priestly duties) and he’s helped by a Samaritan (not bound by Jewish law) who puts him on his own donkey, bandages his wounds, takes him to an inn and pays his bill. (paraphrased from Luke 10:25)
Imagine my surprise when I hear a wonderful gospel interpretation of the parable that goes like this:
Christ is our good Samaritan.  He has found us along the road of life, beaten and robbed and desperate.  He rescues us, bandages us, saves us and takes us to the inn (the church) and pays our debt.   Pastor Cwirla even takes the terms of the parable in an allegorical way to say:  Think of Jesus as our good Samaritan. He literally becomes our neighbor in the incarnation.  He takes on our flesh and is bloodied by our sin.  The punch line of the parable  is that he frees us from the law.  The hero of the parable is Jesus.  And because the Samaritan is not bound by the law,  {as are the lawyer and the priest and the Levite} he is free to serve others willingly.    In other words, Christ became my good Samaritan and died to save and ransom me—-to free me from the law—-so that I am now free to serve others.
Wow, why have I never heard this before?  Where have you been all my life Pastor Cwirla?   I’ve been wondering around in the wilderness of legalism far too long:  trying to measure up,  secretly trusting in my own faith and sincerity,  trying to earn my salvation and hoping that my striving would be sufficient.   Strive no more.   Our Good Samaritan is not shackled by the law.  He fulfilled it, conquered it and delivers to us grace upon grace.   Our Good Samaritan has come to our rescue.
You can listen to this Christ-centered teaching here.
Is this a new interpretation for you?  Does your heart sing for joy at the thought of Christ being your good Samaritan?  I’m wowed.  Again.  Thank you Pastor Cwirla and thank you to Issues.
**I also encourage you to occasionally post from your archives.  It gives you a chance to edit and correct previous work (this one was atrocious the first go-around) and gives your new readers a look at your archived material.  And while we’re on the subject of blogging, tell me whether you like the little side bar I added this weekend?  Or would you prefer one column and thus, larger pictures?   Your input is helpful as I work to make the new site helpful and easy to navigate!  Thanks.
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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 patty January 25, 2010 at 7:47 pm

oh, yay! i’m first! i love being first because… well, because i never am!! :)

this might not be “Christ-centered”, but for me it is… because that thought that i am ok because of His sacrifice is based on the existance of Christ. i know i have a lot of work to do still, but i love a good sermon that celebrates the beauty of life and forgiveness and generosity. and, not so much the ones that remind me i am condemned and unworthy and sinful. i thinkit’s important to not loose sight of the fact that, well, i AM not worthy, but he still gave it, and that’s reason to love and rejoice and celebrate.

(too gooey?)

ps: like the sidebar b/c it’s still clean… but those yummy photos in super large are hard to beat!! :)

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2 Gina January 25, 2010 at 7:54 pm

As I was reading this I was struck by another aspect of the parable that I had never considered before because I hadn’t ever sat down and really thought about Christ being our Good Samaritan. What jumped out to me was that the man by the road didn’t choose his Savior…or even accept his help for that matter. He may as well have been dead for all the say he had in the matter. He was a Jew, so had he been conscience he may have rejected the Samaritan. He may have thought he was too good for his help or have had a slew of other reasons to not accept help from a “unclean” man. But he didn’t. Because he had no choice. And because of it he was saved.

Also, I’m a fan of the sidebar! :)

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3 Gina January 25, 2010 at 7:55 pm

As I was reading this I was struck by another aspect of the parable that I had never considered before because I hadn’t ever sat down and really thought about Christ being our Good Samaritan. What jumped out to me was that the man by the road didn’t choose his Savior…or even accept his help for that matter. He may as well have been dead for all the say he had in the matter. He was a Jew, so had he been conscience he may have rejected the Samaritan. He may have thought he was too good for his help or have had a slew of other reasons to not accept help from a “unclean” man. But he didn’t. Because he had no choice. And because of it he was saved.

Also, I’m a fan of the sidebar! :)

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4 Lauren Donofrio January 25, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Hi Edie! I love your new site. I have been reading your blog for a few months now…I love your Christian values that you teach and encourage to your children! I am a new mom…my baby boy is almost 6 months old. I love your schoolroom and homeschooling thoughts ~ I hope to homeschool our son….we have a few more years to get ready! Your new site is lovely and you are doing great things with it ~ keep the side bar ~ keep your categories ~ easy to navigate! Have a good day!

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5 Jessica @ These Are The Days January 26, 2010 at 1:37 am

Thanks Edie. I need to read this a million times and have it sutchered to my brain. :) I’ll have to look at some of my older posts and repost now and then, great idea. I’m kind of embarrassed at some of them. BTW, I like your blog with the side bar.

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6 Donna January 26, 2010 at 3:06 am

Love your new look!!! I love this story…Jesus is our perfect example – he is “the good samaritan”. Oh how the world, our homes, our marriages, would look so different if we followed His example! I believe Jesus spoke in “parables” so that we would question ourselves…(He often gave the answers in the form of questions to those who were present) Question ourselves to see if we “are loving our neighbor as ourselves” or examining ourselves as Paul states in 2 Corinthians “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; tests yourselves…” He wasn’t saying this to non-believers, but to Christians – we all have times in our walks where we need to “question” if we are growing in His likeness…this is what His parables do for me! God Bless!

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7 Mott @ The Courtyard Gate January 26, 2010 at 4:22 am

Edie, I love the repeat because it is new to me! I have recently started following you and really enjoy your blog. I was raised in a very strict religion (no dancing, no pants, no shorts, no make-up, etc.) which to me is all about me and nothing about a Saviour. I did find “Him” though but have struggled my whole life (50+ years) with legalism. Your post was very enlightening. Thank you and I will look more into Pastor Cwirla. He sounds very interesting. But if we are all going to the same ‘Heaven’, how can we all believe so differently? That one always has confused me. ~Mott

I like the sidebar!

Oh yeah, I also LOVED the Harry Potter books. I agree with you completely on your analogy!

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8 Kristi @ Pink and Polka Dot January 26, 2010 at 11:47 am

this is why i can’t wait to hang out with you next week!. i am constantly battling the legalism i was taught and i’m still trying to learn how to live free! hugs to you! and i love the side bar and your whole new blog look!

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9 Sandy January 26, 2010 at 3:13 pm

The wilderness of legalism. Oh yah, been there, done that. Freedom is amazing LOL.

Love your new look here, Edie. Good job! It’s beautiful.

See you next week!

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10 Lisa January 26, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Hi Edie,
Just found your blog and I love it! So much to read and think about. If you don’t mind, I would love to share your entry above with the readers of my blog and send them here to find more of your thoughts and encouragment. We must reach more people with the Truth!!

Blessings,
Lisa

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11 Vicki K January 26, 2010 at 6:48 pm

The proportion of the column and the sidebar are good! I also like the lighter red in the sidebar because it is less distracting while reading the main column (and nothing is flashing or moving).

My screen is rather large so the pictures are a nice size the way it is now, too. (al-most don’t need my readers ;)

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12 micah January 26, 2010 at 10:51 pm

I am so sorry you have the Yucky nose (as I tell my boys.) Love the post …even if it is a repost. I had a similar one today. Overflowing by it all!

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13 Sharon January 27, 2010 at 2:53 am

Edie, what encouraging words and I am so thrilled to see a post on this, where many will come and read.

How sad though, to see that many commenting on this indeed do not understand Christ’s COMPLETE fulfillment of the law for us, and that we CANNOT possibly earn salvation even if we try with good works, to “be better”– there is no way — we all fall short. We can only accept His grace, by faith as such. My prayers go out for those readers.

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14 Karen January 27, 2010 at 3:04 am

Another Vikings fan thinking I’ve got nothing. I’ve felt like that since Sunday night.

Thanks for your blog, I enjoy it.

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