Make your own (hopefully amusing) version of this well-known parable. Print out the Fill in the blanks PDF (click here) and follow the instructions to put yourself in the story.
Or watch this video on YouTube (click here)
I recently re-told this very familiar story at a mums and tots group using a puppet dog who was chased and bitten by the Big Bad Cat. A poodle walked past and would not help her, then a sausage dog did the same. Finally, a ratty, tatty old stinky cat came along and Snuffles (my dog) thought she was in for a rough time. But the ratty, tatty, old stinky cat was kind to her and gave her some cat treats to eat.
Afterwards, one of the grandmas came up to me and thanked me. “I never realised before that the Samaritan was supposed to be a bad person. It makes so much more sense now.”
I was shocked. The whole point of the story is that the Samaritans were the ratty, tatty old stinky cat – the quasi-Jews who didn’t worship properly. Any nice Jew walked miles out of his way to avoid even passing through their area.
They were Rangers supporters if you’re Celtic. They were United if you’re City. Lancaster if you’re York. French if you’re English (they’ve never forgiven us for Waterloo). Surely, surly, someone had mentioned this before?
And this was a lady of an earlier generation, when the school subject was not ‘Philosophy, Religion and Ethics’ as now. It was ‘Scripture’ or ‘Divinity’ (depending on the poshness of the school). They learned the Bible. Or rather, they were taught the Bible, which is not the same thing.
How many times had she heard this most famous of Jesus’s stories? Dozens, probably. How many times had the story penetrated any further than her ears? Apparently, only the once. Yeesh! Scarey!
Note to self: Just because someone has heard it, that does not mean they’ve heard it. Don’t assume that folks have grasped things. Many folks simply don’t have the time or inclination to think. It’s not that they’re thick, they’re just never thought about it.
Corollary (sorry, I’m a mathematician): Make sure you explain things really well and don’t be afraid to make simple, important points.
Next thing that struck me – what if she had not been there that week? How many other folks are there whom we (I) incorrectly assume are familiar with these ‘well-known’ Bible stories? I suspect a scarily large proportion.
Note to self: How many of those who pass through our doors week by week never hear the Bad News? Yes, I meant the Bad News. Because without the Bad News that ‘all have sinned’ (and that includes all of us) ‘and fallen short of the glory of God’, there can be no Good News: ‘and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus’.
Now, it’s only a mums and tots group, to be sure, but it’s a church mums and tots. How would I feel if, on the great and final day, that lady were to stand before the throne and say ‘But no-one told me.’ And I’ve had her listening to my Bible stories week by week, and I’ve never told her.
Note to self: This might be the only time they hear it. Make sure you tell it.
Often we are asked to think of ourselves as the Samaritan, to make sure we act in a neighbourly way. But what if we are the traveller? I don’t imagine he was too pleased to see one of ‘those’ people coming to help.
If I were in need – financial, emotional, practical – who would I find it hard to receive help from? Why is that?
Please help us to see beyond the childhood stories
and the familiarity
to hear your word in our hearts
Luke 10:25-37 The Message
Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?”
He answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?”
He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbour as well as you do yourself.”
“Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.”
Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbour’?”
Jesus answered by telling a story. “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.
“A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’
“What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbour to the man attacked by robbers?”
“The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded.
Jesus said, “Go and do the same.”
The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson