The most infamous of roads for the most famous of stories. The Jericho road was known for its danger. That is why Jesus chose it for the setting of what we call “The Parable of the Good Samaritan,” in Luke 10:25-37, to teach a lawyer, and us, what it means to love your neighbor.
You may have heard this one. A man is traveling down from Jerusalem to Jericho. He fell among thieves. They rob him and beat him until he is mostly dead. Subsequently, a priest travels by seeing the man that is nigh unto death. He passes by on the other side and offers no aid. In the same way, a Levite passes by, sees the man, and offers no aid. But a Samaritan, in passing by, stops and cares for the man, takes him to an inn and pays for his needs. When Jesus asked the lawyer who was more neighborly, he had to acknowledge the Samaritan, but he didn’t have to say the word “Samaritan.” He just said, “the one who showed mercy.” The fact that Jesus had chosen a Samaritan to be the hero of the story was not lost on the lawyer. Perhaps he smiled, knowingly. Maybe he scowled, hating that Jesus dared use a Samaritan. Either way, the lesson was taught. Those that should’ve shown compassion didn’t. The one that was unclean and the villain of Jewish nursery rhymes had done what others would not. Jesus was foreshadowing that what was about to come was not about lineage or heritage but about obedience and compassion.
Compassion transcended convenience, something that often gets in the way of service. Compassion transcended racial prejudice. True compassion is not about the color of your skin or where you did or didn’t come from. It’s about your heart. Compassion should be shown out of a respect of human life and service toward God. I have a Father that sees souls, not skin, bank accounts, social status or any other man-made divisions. Compassion also transcended provisions for the future. This Samaritan was traveling on a journey. He had provision to get himself to and from his destination, not to help some guy on the side of the road, but compassion did it anyway.
It is imperative that God’s people be compassionate. The Jerusalem church, having all things in common, was a compassionate congregation (Acts 2:44-45). “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Gal. 6:9-10). When we have opportunity, show compassion. This does not mean you have to go looking for opportunities, but it does mean you can’t hide from them either. You might already be on the road of compassionate service. You might be learning what that is, but it is imperative we all show compassion.