Over the summer we are going to be looking at some of the parables that Jesus told. These are simple relatable story with a moral or spiritual point.
The story that we are looking at today is about a bit of a superhero. You don’t need tights to be a superhero. Whether you are a person of faith or not, everyone can be a superhero. But what does it take? Superheroes have a few things in common; they are the good guys and gals. They are committed to justice; they seem to give it their all. You don’t hear superman deciding not to rescue the falling woman because he is having a coffee. They put energy and enthusiasm into it. Superheroes have courage and are prepared to risk everything for the cause they believe in, and they often help complete strangers. Let’s see how this plays out in the parable of the Good Samaritan. You can read this by clicking here
The story is triggered by a “religious scholar’s” question. He was someone who should have known the answer to his question. He knew the Jewish scriptures very, very well. In fact it is likely that he had memorised the whole of, what we call, The Old Testament. He answers his own question correctly but then when Jesus tells him to “go and do likewise and live”. He asks another question. “Who then is my neighbour?” Jesus uses a very powerful story to answer his question. The impact is diluted for us as we are not in the same culture. The Priest was the person in the highest position in the Jewish faith. He was the one to stands as a representative of the people before God and he represented God to the people. The Levites were the family line chosen to oversee everything in the temple. Because they spent their working lives in the temple they would know the nature of God. Both of these men steeped in religion ignore the need and avoid the injured man. Then along comes the Samaritan. The Samaritans were despised by the Jews. They were regarded as the scum of the earth. Think of the worst racial prejudice you can and multiply it. He sees the injured mans, stops what he is doing, and does all he can to help. He is like a superhero. He has compassion; he risks his own safety to help. The road could be treacherous with thieves and bandits. The victim could have been a decoy to trap him. But he bravely gives his time, energy and resources to help. He is a real hero.
Jesus himself was a superhero. If we measure up his life to the qualities of a superhero he comes out on top. He was the ultimate good guy working courageously for justice. He was committed and risked everything for us. If we are serious about following Jesus then we have to be like Jesus. We have to love our neighbour, whatever the cost. We have to be like the Samaritan, prepared to love our neighbour with our time, effort and resources. We have to be prepared to stop doing our thing to put the others need before our own. This is tough. We have to be prepared to do this not just to “nice” people but even people who hate us. We have to be prepared to take risks.
However, when preparing the talk something else jumped out at me.
W.C Fields the late actor and comedian was an staunch atheist. On his deathbed friends were surprised to find him reading the Bible. When asked what he was doing he said “Looking for loopholes”. That is what the religious scholar was doing.
29 Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbour’?”
Superheroes don’t look for loopholes. They are committed and give it their all.
Do we try to get away with the least…in our studies, our work, our relationships or as the religious scholar our faith, Or do we try to give the most we can. This parable is as much about this as loving your neighbour. If we would call ourselves Christians what is our attitude to our faith, our relationship with God and our response to the command to love God with everything that we are and have and love our neighbour as we love ourselves. Are we looking for a loophole? Do we give following Jesus our all, or do we hope to scrape through with the least that we can get away with. If we are his followers we shouldn’t try to get away with the least, we should want to give it our best.