“Hey! Jesus! Why are you hanging around with those losers? Can’t you see they’re sinners?”
They need love, too!
“Why don’t you love us? We need love…”
I’m glad to see you admit it. I wasn’t sure you were ever going to. I do love you. By the way, you need grace, too…
“Grace? We’re children of Abraham! We have the promises, you know…”
I’m the one who made those promises. You do your Bible study religiously, but I don’t see much result. That Bible speaks of me, but you’re not getting it, and I see no reason to think you want to get it. You might as well get a subscription to The Times of Rome. At least you’d learn something…
“You were born entirely in sin, but you’d teach us?”
Yes, I would be happy to. Since we’re talking about love, who do you love?
“We follow Moses, so we love our neighbor, and we hate our enemies…”
I think it’s debatable whether you actually love your neighbor, but I’ll grant it for the sake of discussion. Tell me, who is your neighbor?
“The people in our neighborhood! Good grief! How did you ever get the title of ‘rabbi’?”
Fellas, you’re getting kind of personal. Let me tell you about this guy who went on a journey to, I dunno, let’s say, Jericho. He shouldn’t have gone alone, but he did, and you can guess what happened…
“We sure can. That road is full of robbers and other riff-raff. We’re surprised they’re not here at the table with you…”
They might be, someday. I hope so. Well, anyway, our traveler was beaten and robbed and left for dead. Guess who showed up a little later? “No idea…”
“Sounds like the poor dude needed one. Did he administer the last rites?”
I wish that I could say he did at least that. No; he crossed over to the other side of the road. Not even a cup of cold water for the guy! Not long after, a Levite showed up. What do you suppose he did?
< no answer>
Don’t be bashful, guys. What do you suppose the Levite did?
“I think you’re going to tell us he did nothing…”
That’s right, Eliezer, he did nothing. Why do you suppose he did nothing?
“I don’t know. Perhaps he had temple duty? Late? I don’t really know. Why did the priest do nothing, Jesus?”
I don’t really want to tell you, Eliezer. I want you to enter this story yourself. Which character would you like to be?
“Definitely not the beaten-up guy. I’d like to think I’d be better than the priest or the Levite. Now you have me thinking…”
That was the reason I began this story, Eliezer. I’ll continue. Another dude came along, stopped, took pity, treated his injuries, put the poor guy on his donkey, and was willing to walk the rest of the way. There are some pretty good hills out that way…”
“You’re telling me! I wouldn’t walk if I had a donkey…”
You just told me you wanted to be better than the religious guys. You wouldn’t have made that poor guy walk while you rode, would you?
“I guess not…”
You might not be far from the Kingdom, Eliezer. Let me tell you what happened next…
The man took him to an inn, paid the bill, told the innkeeper to make sure the poor guy got what was needed, and he’d take care of the expenses. What do you think of that?
“I’d say the guy loved his neighbor. <puffs chest> I get it, Jesus. All of Israel is my brother!”
You don’t quite have it, yet, Eliezer. Did I say anything about the beaten-up guy being an Israelite? By the way, you’re a Judean. What’s your opinion of my Galilean disciples? < the entire audience is now listening and some are fidgeting nervously> “I understand, Jesus. We do look down on our Galilean cousins…”
Brothers, Eliezer! Brothers! But did I tell you who the hero was? Was he Galilean or Judean?
<Ephraim decides to speak>
“We know he couldn’t have been Roman!”
Worse than that, Ephraim. He was a Samaritan!
Who do you suppose was the neighbor? Eliezer? Ephraim? What do you guys say? Anyone?
“I guess the Samaritan is our hero. Good grief! I can’t believe I said that…
Oh, I thought you’d probably come around…
“I don’t like this idea of Samaritans. That goes against everything I have been taught…
I’m sure it does. But if you can handle it, there is a place for you at my table and in the Kingdom. How does that sound to you?
“I need to think about that. I’m not sure I want to be included with those losers… <Jesus sighs>