Mama told me there would be days like this.
She told me to not travel alone, and to always have on clean underwear in case of emergency. I got the latter right.
You see, I was returning from one of our customary feasts. A time when all the men were required to meet in Jerusalem for worship. We lived in a village near Jericho. Not the best part of town, but it was home. The journey from Jericho consisted of a 22 mile uphill climb. It was a serpentine path, lined with cobblestone and loose rocks. Not for the faint of heart.
My plan was to travel to worship with my best friend. We had made numerous journeys to the Holy City together to present ourselves before the Lord. It was a time for us to consider the call of God, and to somberly reflect on His faithfulness. He was a friend who stuck closer than a brother, as we like to say in my faith.
Unfortunately, he was unable to make the trip with me this time due to an injury he had suffered to his leg. The grueling travel was too formidable for him, despite his intense longing to join me on one of our three trips to Jerusalem. Hence, I sojourned solo.
After the feast ended, I decided to make haste and attempt to reach Jericho before sunset. Without a companion to provide mutual safety, I rashly determined to make the downhill trek in one afternoon. The rest is history.
I was somewhere within visual sight of my village. Approximately 4-5 miles from home when I could hear them. The taunts, and the threats. A group of young street toughs had picked up on my distinctly Jewish attire, and seized my upon my vulnerability. I walked faster. To no avail.
Down I went. Raising my arms in protest, I could see their angry faces as they pulled at my clothing. Looking for valuables. And then darkness. Sometime later, I awoke from unconsciousness. Oh, my head! I could feel dried blood. My clothing was covered in dirt and blood splotches. My belongings were gone. I was groggy, but still somewhat lucid.
Then, on the road to Jericho, coming down from Jerusalem came two men. They weren’t together, but they were my people. A lawyer, and a rabbi. The incredible sense of relief and hope I felt as they drew near! Help had arrived, I thought.
I thought wrong. One at a time, they passed by! They even moved away from me as they came close. How could that be? We had just come from the worship of our God! Our God! Who wants us to, “Love mercy, walk humbly and act justly.” Don’t these men know what God requires?
As I angrily pondered these things in my mind, my voice to weak to cry out, I felt someone grab me. Strong arms, no words. Too weak to resist, I turned to find who this was who had laid hold of me. Friend or foe.
To my utter surprise this man was a Samaritan. An enemy to my people, and mine to his. We had nothing in common but our Maker, I thought. Nothing in common but our Maker.
I guess that was all that was needed for this man to be my neighbor. All that was required for him to take heroic measures on behalf. To give sacrificially for me out of his own means. We have the same Maker. And I’ll never be the same again. I’ll never see others the same again.
And I hope you won’t either.