February 2002 – Jesus told a story one day. He was always doing that, you know. Telling stories which illustrated a truth. We call them parables. And that was how He taught. Those who listened to His parables may not have agreed with their moral point, but rarely did they not understand the deeper truth He was sharing.
A certain man, He said, was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho. As he was traveling this road, he was beaten and robbed. In fact, the robbers left him to die.
But, Jesus said, a priest passed by and saw the poor man as he lay dying. “Hooray for the good guy,” we say. “The priest has arrived on the scene. The priest will come to the poor man’s rescue. Thank God for the priest, for he will offer help when help is needed.”
But, lo and behold, as the priest gazed upon the beaten and dying man, he made a decision not to get involved. So, instead of trying to right a wrong, the priest simply turned and walked away. Left the man to die if that be his fate.
But wait! Jesus didn’t stop there. Here came another man. This one was a Levite, a son of Moses and keeper of the temple. A man whose family had a long history of service to God. “Hooray! Hooray! Hooray! The good guy has arrived. Thank you, Jesus, for making the good guy the hero of the story. We know he will help this poor man.”
But as Jesus continued His story, he did a strange thing. The good guy, Jesus said, was not the good guy. Jesus said that after looking over the situation, the Levite passed by on the other side. Didn’t even want to get near the half-dead man.
Things would have been so much simpler, wouldn’t they, if Jesus had only made the good guy the good guy. But He didn’t.
I have often wondered why these two men of God refused to help the man who had been left to die. Jesus didn’t tell us. Perhaps there were things more important that these religious men had to do.
What things? Well, there could have been an important committee meeting at the temple. To help the beaten man would have consumed valuable time and caused them to be late, or miss the meeting entirely. Or maybe they didn’t want to get involved because they feared the robbers were still nearby, waiting for the opportunity to prey upon anyone who dared come to the man’s rescue.
Maybe they thought that if they dirtied their hands in helping the man, they would not be accepted by their peers. Or they would be criticized by others in the congregation where they were going to worship.
Perhaps they even had a synagogue supper to attend and didn’t want their casseroles to get cold. Maybe they had an appointment with some important political leaders.
Who knows why they did nothing? All we know is that they did nothing.
You know the rest of the story. The “bad” guy turned out to be the good guy.
Let me tell another parable. I will get it started, and perhaps you can finish it.
A certain country was going down a road to morality which led to freedom and prosperity. But groups such as People For The American Way, ACLU, National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood and others who wanted no set standard of morals attacked the country. The country was beaten and robbed of its moral values, its foundation ripped to shreds by those who were angered by Christian morals.
Along came the good guys. No need to point them out. You know them – the modern-day equivalent of the priest and Levite. And finally came the bad guys, a group of right-wing, pro-family, pro-life Christians.
Ok, it’s your turn. Finish the story.