Text: Luke 10: 25-37
25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus.[a] “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” 27 He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”
29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii,[b] gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
I think many of us have heard the parable of the Good Samaritan from the time we were small kids until now. I’m sure thousands of sermons have been preached on the topic just in the last few years and you may have even heard a few of them. This message is so powerful and so important that I wanted to visit the scripture again, but I wanted to do it in a way that would be memorable, something that would be more meaningful that just another sermon. So I let my imagination loose on the topic and decided to bring the story into the 21st century. In the text we can read that the Samaritan brought the man who was beaten and robbed to an Inn-so this is the story from the Inn keeper, but set in the 21st century.
“You know, you just don’t think things like that will happen around here. I mean, that’s why my wife and I bought this Bed and Breakfast because we wanted to raise the kids in a small town and in a safe environment. You expect to hear about people getting mugged or robbed or attacked in places like LA or New York City, but not our here – not in the middle of nowhere…and yet it happened; and practically all in our front yard to boot!”
“I remember the night like it was yesterday. Our B&B has a nice dining hall that can seat about 30 people and there was a town hall meeting that night. The county wanted to impose a tax on recreation and travel to help pay for a new elementary school. There was to be a tax on white water rafting for example, and taxes on Bed & Breakfasts like ours, taxes on organized fishing expeditions, and other leisure, recreational and travel things that frankly keep our local economy humming around here. Many of the proprietors of the businesses that would be impacted opposed the tax; they thought it would hurt business. I was one of the few in favor because I value education, so I volunteered to host the town hall meeting. We had an overflow crowd; the mayor was here, city council members, several pastors from the local churches and county officials as well. The meeting was supposed to go for just a couple of hours, from 7 – 9 PM. At 10:30PM there were still people wanting to speak, but we decided to have another meeting rather than to keep going into the night, so we dismissed between 10:30 and 11:00 and everyone filed out.”
“Like I said I remember the night like it was yesterday. One reason it sticks out in my mind is because of the cold snap we were having. The regular temperature had already hit zero by the time the meeting let out and the wind chill was well below zero. I wondered to myself as everyone left the building how many cars would not start in the cold, but everybody seemed to get going without too much trouble. I stood in the doorway and watched the last vehicle exit the parking lot and then closed the door.”
It wasn’t two minutes later before the door opened again. There was a strange man who I had never met before helping another inside. He had his arm around him and was practically carrying him inside. The man being helped was in shirt sleeves and his shirt was torn at the shoulder; he had a bloody spot on his forehead and only had one shoe. “What happened?” I asked as I met them half-way across the floor. “I’m not sure,” the man said, “I found him leaned up against one of your parking lot lights just outside.” “I had to wait for the traffic to clear, because everyone was leaving; and when I turned into your lot, there he was.” “I can’t believe that no one saw him on their way out – there must have been twenty or twenty-five cars all leaving at the same time.” “We had a meeting” I explained. The man nodded.
We took the injured man over to the sofa that faced the fireplace and helped him sit down. By now my wife had heard the commotion and came over with a blanket and we rolled the ottoman over so he could prop up his leg and foot with the missing shoe. The ankle was swollen and red, he was shivering from the cold and I motioned to my wife to bring a hot drink. Then I stoked the fire a bit and threw another piece of wood to get it going. Soon my wife reappeared with a cup of hot chocolate and a warm wash cloth for the injured man to wipe his forehead.
“Can he stay here tonight?” the man asked-I shook my head. “We have only six rooms and are full for tonight.”
“Well, I have a reservation here,” said the man, “so he can have my room and I will drive back into town and find another room for myself. I passed several motels on my way out here. I have to be in Boise by 9 AM tomorrow, so I will be leaving early, but I’m coming back through on Friday and will check back with you then. In the meantime, if he needs anything-anything at all, get it for him and put it on my account.” Then the man handed me his credit card; “I want to pay for his room and meals until I return-just keep track of everything and we can settle the credit card on Friday.”
By now the injured man was beginning to thaw out and I overheard part of the conversation as my wife tucked in the blanket and dabbed at his forehead. He had been out walking when a pick-up truck full of teenagers jumped him, stole all his money and credit cards, took his coat and beat him up. He said he had tried to fight back some, but there were too many of them. He saw our lights and headed this way, but only got as far as the parking lot when he had to rest. He was there when everyone left, but no one stopped.
I took the man’s credit card over to the front desk and took an imprint of it and then handed it back to him. “I’ll be back on Friday” he said, “I think we should call the police, report what we know and maybe help him cancel any cards he may have lost.” “If he needs any medical attention, I will cover that expense as well, but for now I need to find another room and get settled. I have an early morning.”
“Let me make a call” I said, “a lot of us know each other and I’m sure I can find a room for you.”
I went back to the desk and started calling other facilities that might have a room. The first place I checked was full, but I found a spot on the second try. I told the man exactly where it was and that they were expecting him. As the man put his coat back on the injured man managed a hoarse “thank-you” and raised his right arm about half-way up wincing through some kind of shoulder pain. And then he was gone.
The next couple of days were a whirlwind of police reports and urgent care visits, but as promised on Friday, around 3PM the man returned. This time things were not quite so hectic and we actually had a chance to introduce ourselves to each other and exchange formalities. The injured man was feeling much better as well.
“I’m Jared” I said when he arrived and reached out to shake his hand. “I’m Amad,” the man said, “Amad Rasheed, nice to meet you.”
“What do you do Amad?, I asked. “I’m an insurance adjuster” he said, I had to get to Boise to look at a suspicious fire that they think might have been arson, so it was time sensitive; “sorry I had to rush out the other night.” “How is the patient anyway?”
“I’m feeling much better, thank-you” came a voice from the kitchen.
“Where are you from Amad?” I asked.
“I normally work in Missoula, but the Boise fire was something the company wanted me to look at” he said.
“Oh,” I said, “but where are you from?” I asked again.
Amad smiled, and explained that we he born in Los Angeles and moved to Missoula about five years ago when the company transferred him there. Then he went on to explain that both his parents had come to the United States in the early 1950’s from Pakistan during a period of civil unrest.
“Can I ask you a personal question?” I said; Amad nodded; “are you Muslim?”
Amad grinned from ear to ear and said, “I follow some of the traditions of Isalm”.
“Well, what you did was certainly Christ like,” I said.
Amad nodded his head again; “We’re not so different, you and I; your New Testament says to love your neighbor and so does my Quran. Allah is merciful to those who show mercy is what it actually says, but the bottom line is the same.”
I nodded in agreement as he headed out the door. As I watched him leave the parking lot I thought to myself about who is my neighbor; how ironic I thought…as our world gets smaller, our neighborhoods get bigger.
“God bless you, Amad,” I said under my breath as we exchanged waves as he drove out of sight.