“Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.””
Luke 10:30-37 NKJV
As I worked my way through the book of Luke ths morning, I was reminded of the richness of chapter ten. So much good stuff! I stopped at the story of the Good Samaritan and I found myself reflecting on past ministry opportunities that I have had. Years ago I was part of a ministry called Celebrate Recovery. It was a variation of a twelve step program that served a wide variety of people. We served broken people, struggling and failing.
These were people who had fallen among spiritual thieves, had been stripped of dignity, emotionally wounded and left half dead. When I look back, I remember being such a person, robbed of my childhood, robbed of my life, and left emotionally stunted. I learned early on to keep my open wounds hidden, as no one wanted to see the damage that had been done.
Some people don’t have that luxury, as the destruction is massive and obvious, and is on display in the way of behaviors and symptoms, often characterized as sins.
All too often the priests and the Levites, the church folk, steer clear of such people. When I was at my local church, I served as a deacon a couple of times, and all those who struggled found their way to me. I was the minister to the fringes, to the people the “good” Christians didn’t want to deal with.
In me, they saw themselves, they found safety, as God had broken me sufficiently to make me a vessel He could use. I became the innkeeper, given the resource of the Holy Spirit to help those Jesus came to save.
One of the sad realities of church life, is that, all too often, people who have been saved, have short memories, as they forget their own mugging by the evil one, or more often, they have never known what it is to be a damaged by sin. They flee the dirty, and seek to distance themselves from the stranger lying in the path.
“What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin. As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one;
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
Romans 3:9-10, 23 NKJV
We are all sinners, all filthy in the sight of Holy God. He sees our hearts rather than what we do.
Jesus left us to take care of the wounded, the stripped, those left for dead.
As this world careens toward oblivion, we must be aware that the people we seek to reach with the Gospel are far more impacted by sin than at any other time. We are living in a season when sin is glorified, and celebrated. The unspeakable has become common place and lauded on the airways.
There are bodies everywhere, stacked and bleeding, as our culture declines and implodes. We must be innkeepers, willing to receive those who are struggling. Just as the Samaritan gave the innkeeper two denarii, we have been given the Holy Spirit and the word of God. He is willing and able to fill us anew as we have need.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.””
Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV
Brothers and sisters, let us not be like the priests and the Levites, avoiding those in greatest need, but let us tell of the ease of the walk with Jesus, the peace that He brings. Tell of His suffering on our behalf, how He was robbed, beaten, and left dead on the cross for our sins. Tell of His burial, His resurrection and the newness of life. Tell of the healing.
Jesus is coming again, and He will bring ultimate healing to the people and to the world. He will set up His Kingdom, and bring healing to the nations.
“And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.”
Revelation 22:1-3 NKJV
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