Sermon on the "Good" Samaritan
By Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber
From what I hear, if you are taking a trip to the Holy Land you can visit the actual road from Jerusalem to Modern day Jericho and local tour guides are happy, for the right price, to show you the exact spot where the Good Samaritan helped the Man found beaten by thieves. Many an earnest Christian has paid for such an “authentic” holy land experience before remembering that the Good Samaritan was just a parable.
But it’s one of the biggies…along with the prodigal son, this parable of a beaten and robbed man being shown mercy by a Samaritan is ingrained into the cultural memory of even those who have never stepped foot into a church. There are laws named after it. Long term care facilities named after it. Even a Boy Scout Merit badge named after it. We KNOW this story. And as happy as I am that at least some of the Bible is part of our cultural mythology, it actually makes it that much more difficult to hear these stories with new ears. It can be hard to hear the real power of this story precisely because we’re so sure what it means…when we already know the moral of this story, which is “it’s good to be helpful”. But I guess I started to wonder this week if maybe the teachings of Jesus have a little more to them than say, the flimsy moralisms we learned from “a very special episode of Saved By The Bell”. Maybe the story of mercy being shown to a beaten and robbed man has much more to it than “it’s good to be helpful”