February 7, Saturday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Lk. 10:31, 33-5 (NLT):  “By chance a priest came along.  But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. . . . Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. [34] Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them.  Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. [35] The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’”

Matt. 5:40-1 (NIV): “And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. [41] If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.”

7Allegorizing the Bible can be fun to listen to because it attempts to dig out the “deep” and “hidden” meaning.   One seasoned preached allegorized this parable in this way: the priest who walked away represents world religions that cannot save; the wine used to clean the wound points to the redemptive sacrifice of Christ; the olive oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit; the inn represents the church (“God cares for us through the church”); the two coins refer to the Old and New Testament.   Though his points may be edifying, his interpretation wasn’t exactly exegetically sound (i.e., reading into the text instead of extracting the meaning).   Ironically, the preacher never bothered to address the obvious meaning of the parable staring right at him: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39).

Most of the time, if we help someone at all, we do what we can within our schedule and/or budget; we don’t want to be inconvenienced too much.  Sometimes, we do just enough to make us feel good (I know about these things, I am an expert at it).  But this Samaritan gives not only his tunic but also his cloak; goes not only one mile but two; and this is all done for a Jew who would have despised him in a heartbeat.

Christ has set the bar high for Christians: “Anyone who has faith in me . . . will do even greater things than these” (Jn. 14:12).   Of course, here, Christ was referring to “miracles,” such as healing; however, isn’t one great miracle of the Lord transforming the bitter and jaded hearts like ours into a loving and kind heart that reaches out to “one of the least of these”?  Thus, if I were the aforementioned preacher, I would have added that this Samaritan represents “a new creation” in which “the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).  So profoundly touched by Christ who died for us while we were still sinners (Rom. 5:8), he has rejected the old way of hating his unlikable neighbors to loving and caring for them.

Working part-time while attending college, I had some money in the bank.  As I was praying one day, the Lord impressed me to send a check for $100 to a widow with two children living in another state, but there was just one problem: she was the director of the choir I was in, and I never really liked her.    Well, I sent the check to her anyway.  A few years later when we met, she expressed how much that gift meant to her.  I was thankful that God could use someone like me to encourage her!  Today, do something kind to someone who you don’t really like—yes, the bar is set high.

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 42-43

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