The Image of Christ


It never ceases to amaze me that no matter how often a read a passage of Scripture there is always something new to learn from it.  Sometimes I take Scripture for granted and think I have gleaned everything from it and then, wham, something hits me right in the face and that was true with the parable of the Good Samaritan that was read on the first Sunday of the Nativity Fast. (Luke 10:25-37)

We know the story, a man gets robbed and beaten and is left on the side of the road.  A priest and a Levite pass by, changing the sides of the road while doing so.  Next comes a Samaritan, a man despised, and he takes action.  He helps the man right where we is, but then he loads him on his own beast and takes him to an inn where he pays the inn keeper to nurse him back to health.  He tells the inn keeper that he will reimburse him for all of his expenses when he returns.

I the sermon I preached on this Sunday I mentioned that it was no mistake that Jesus singled out the priest and Levite in the story.  These two men are the ones that one would expect to the help the poor soul on the side of the road but chose not to.  One commentator on this passage suggests that titles and positions are meaningless to God when good deeds do not go along with them.  St. Cyril of Alexandria speaks about it this way, “The dignity of the priesthood means nothing unless he also excels in deeds.”  The priest should have stopped to help the man, but he did not.

The story begins with a lawyer asking what He must do to gain eternal life.  Jesus asks him what the law says and he responds with love of God and love of neighbor.  This is the essence of the Gospel.  But then the lawyer asks Jesus, “who is my neighbor?” and Jesus responds with the parable.  In the end the Samaritan is the one who is the neighbor to the man but he is also an image of Christ.

The Samaritans were despised by the Jews and so it was no mistake that Jesus used a Samaritan in this story, which was kind of in their face, to show them how they should live.  The Samaritan “came down” to help the man when no one else would.

During coffee hour after church, someone asked me if the person who was beat up was a Samaritan and perhaps that is why the others would not help him and why the Samaritan did.  My response was we do not know and that the ethnicity of the man was left out of the story to show that it does not matter who or what the person is we MUST love them and help them when they are in need.

There are two other spiritual aspects to this story that should be investigated.

Jerusalem is a place of peace that is symbolic of communion with God.  However, Jerico was a place that was famous for sin.  The man was going from Jerusalem to Jerico and fell among thieves.  This is symbolic of our life as we move away from communion with God and move towards the life of sin.  We fall among thieves, those who try to rob us of our spiritual life, the world, the cares of this world that we feel are more important than our spiritual life.  All of the “earthly cares of life” that we are to lay aside.  We must be on guard against this.

Everything in Scripture has a meaning, each word is chosen for a reason and for a purpose so a look at the bandages, wine, and oil is necessary.  These are sacramental images for the garment of baptism that delivers us from the wounds of sin.  The oil is symbolic of the oil of chrismation which brings new life in the Holy Spirit.  The wine is the communion of the body and Blood of Christ that brings us to eternal life.  The beast of animal that the Samaritan put the man on is Christ bearing our sins in His own body and the inn is the Church, the place where the love of Christ and spiritual healing comes from.

The Church needs to be a place of healing and restoration and the Church people need to be the ones to bring this about.  Not for financial gain, but for the mission of the Church and for our own salvation.  It does not need to be any more complicated than just getting it done.


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