(30) And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. (31) And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. (32) And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.Luke 10:30-32
(30) And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
The passage points out that Jesus was answering the man with this story. He is giving an answer to the question, “Who is my neighbor?”.
The story is about “a certain man”. He does not say what nationality this man is. Jesus seems to keep him anonymous on purpose. He is just a human being.
Traveling in that day, especially alone, could be quite dangerous. Going from Jerusalem would mean you are going down in elevation. The terrain was rough, and it was known for having thieves.
These thieves had come upon him. You can imagine they took anything of value. We know they took his clothes. Notice this man’s condition. He is naked, wounded, and dying. In this state there would have been an urgency needed to help his condition.
This “certain man” was a human being of unknown origin, social status, and religious status. He is just a human being in need.
We are then introduced to some who come that have the ability to respond.
(31) And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
This man is on the side of the road left for dead. The priest comes. A priest was one who was supposed to mediate on behalf of the people to God. He was someone who knows the scripture. To put this in the context of the question being asked, the priest definitely knows the biblical prescription to “love your neighbor as yourself.” He definitely sees the man. To see the man in this state at all is to see his need. So, what is his response? He passes by the man. He does nothing.
What would be the reasons why the priest would not do anything? Would they be ceremonial because he perceives the man as unclean? Would his reasons be a matter of his own priorities? Does he think his business is more important than the business of helping this man?
We see a second person come by with the opportunity to respond.
(32) And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
The next person to come by is someone who also helped out in the temple. The Levites were helpers in the temple. He at least pauses long enough to look but makes the same decision as the priest. He ends up leaving and doing nothing for the man.
Both of these men were dedicated to their system of religion. Both of these men would have been seen as closer to God than others. Both of them saw the need. Yet both of them did nothing about it. It may have been that their own self-importance in regard to that system caused them to feel as though they were better than the man and would be interfering in God’s judgement of him. Maybe they felt as though their time was more valuable in pursuit of their religious roles than what they could do for this person causing them to choose the ceremonial over the person.
Before we get too high and mighty ourselves, we must make sure we identify where we have acted like these religious people. James 4:17 tells us an important truth:
(17) Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.James 4;17
Has there ever been a time where we have had the opportunity to do good and we do not take it. Have we ever made the mistake of neglecting witness for Christ because we thought our agenda, schedule, priorities, and time were more important?
I know I have done this.
We must ask God to give us eyes to see, and hearts for people. May our own agenda be God’s agenda for us, putting the needs of others ahead of our own.
The greatest need someone has is their spiritual need, and yet a physical need may be an open door to us helping them both physically and spiritually.
- To see a need that you can do something about is to have a responsibility at some level. What needs are being placed in front of you today?