But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.
Luke 10:33 NIV
The third person to come along this road is a Samaritan, the least likely hero. He takes the man who is nearly dead on the side of the road, bandages the man’s wounds, takes him to the closest inn, and sets him up for long-term care.
It is hard for us, today, to understand the hatred that existed between Jews and Samaritans. Samaritans were considered pagans to the Jews. Jews would pray aloud in the synagogue that the Samaritans were not accepted as Jews and had no participation in their inheritance.
Christ’s message here is radical. He could have made the hero the priest or the Levite, but he makes the hero the least likely and most hated. Jesus makes it clear here what he thought about the work going on in the temple and the people who were producing it.
When the Samaritan sees this man laying on the road, despite his despised status, he helps the man. The Samaritan stopped because he had compassion. He could associate and sympathize with the man’s suffering, so his compassion turned into sacrificial action.
This is a defining moment for the Samaritan. He had a right to walk away from this Israelite who despised him, but he did not let the way others treated him seep into his own actions. Instead, he recognized that reaching out and helping others is the true life that God has for us.
Life is full of these defining moments, and every one of us is living in the midst of these defining moments. We have to choose between how we want to act and how God is pushing us to act. God doesn’t want us to return hate for hate, but instead hate with love. This Samaritan, despite being hated by the Jews, turned to help one, overturning that hate in an instant.
When we are faced with what we want to do versus what God wants us to do, we are always better off doing what God tells us to do. Then, we can see through the lens of compassion and seize these defining moments not only for ourselves, but for the world around us.