The Priest, the Levite, and the Good Samaritan… a message to the Church
My husband, Will Easter, wrote this timely article on the parable of the Good Samaritan. I believe this is exactly what the Church needs to hear right now in light of the present crisis of abuse scandals and cover-ups in many churches. We need to check ourselves so that we do not neglect the hurting and marginalized among us.
I find it interesting how the parable has become known as ‘The Good Samaritan’ with no title mention of the Priest or the Levite. Clearly, the Samaritan is the hero. But what is Jesus doing in this parable? I think that Jesus is calling out the Priest and the Levite who are so consumed with self-righteousness that they have become blind to the needs of this person who is abused, beaten, and disenfranchised. Jesus could have chosen anybody else if his purpose was to exclusively esteem the Samaritan. But rather, he chose the Priest and the Levite to be a part of this story for the roles they played in society and their unwillingness to engage with those who were in real need.
Jesus loves the Church far more than I ever will. And if any one of us would take a moment and pause… and look at life through the lens of Jesus… we truly see the image of Jesus as being the Light of the World. For it is He that brings the Light in order to dispel the Darkness.
In all that has ever been written of Jesus, never once did he justify the covering of sin. He never condoned silence and inaction. And, never once did he give deference to the religious leaders of his day at the expense of an individual who was in need. Not once. And, it is Jesus who is to serve as our example.
The significance of the parable of the ‘The Good Samaritan’ clearly shines a light on the leaders of the church. It showcases that all too often there is an ever-present unwillingness for church leaders to attend to the needs of the hurting world. The words come easy but their actions are all too often scarce. Excuses are as numerous as the stars in the sky… but they typically fall into the categories of some form of discrimination, reputation management, or desire to continue keeping the tithe monies flowing in. Many pastors make this trade. However, it is extremely important to understand that many do not! But again, as Jesus was pointing out in this parable… many do.
Jesus, the ultimate lover of the Church, calls the church leaders out and praises and esteems the actions of the Samaritan who, contextually speaking, suffered great risk and great inconvenience and great cost to attend to the needs of an individual he likely didn’t even know who was in dire need… all sacrifices these church leaders were unwilling to make. And the amazing thing is this: in 2000 years, not so much has changed. The power to take action has forever been placed with the people… and not so much with the leaders of the establishment.
It’s amazing, that if you will only lead with love, pretty much everything else takes care of itself. That’s what Jesus did; and, that’s what he is calling us to do.
Lead with love… and by the way, justice will follow suit. Jesus, Light of the World, is Love. It is He who casts Light into the Darkness. And it is He who calls us to take up our cross and follow Him. And the ones who hated Jesus are the same ones who are going to hate us. But it doesn’t matter. Lead with Love! Lead others as you chase after Jesus. Stop, be inconvenienced, and attend to the needs of a hurting world. Don’t go out of your way to avoid the situation like the Priest and Levite did in this parable. Instead, attend to the needs of the needy, the hurting, the disenfranchised and the abused.
We seek only the approval of Jesus and not that of our church leaders. But, that’s more than enough.