Go! for Lent: Luke 10:25-37
The parable of the Good Samaritan is surely one of Jesus’ Top 10. People who know nothing of Christianity still recognize the story: the three religious leaders, each of whom encounters the wounded man on the Jericho Road; the priest and the Levite who walk on by; the Samaritan who takes pity, draws near, bandages his wounds, books him a room at an inn, and even promises to return to make sure he’s okay.
Most of the time, I focus on the Samaritan and the way God selects outsiders to embody holiness, and thus flips our ideas about who is “other” or worthy or useful to God’s restoration project.
This Lent, I’m drawn to a different point in the passage: Jesus’ final words to the legal expert whose question inspired the whole parable. Jesus asked, “Who was a neighbor here?” The expert said, “Of course, the one who had mercy.” And Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:37)
I wonder if the same words don’t belong at the end of every parable. Go and do likewise. Jesus tells us the story of the Samaritan, not only so we can admire the virtue that surfaces in unlikely people and places, but so we will be driven out to live like that, too. Go and draw near the one whose gaping wounds require your compassion. Go and receive the unforgivable, as in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 25:11-32). Go and give up what you wanted most in order to gain the only thing worth having, as in the parable of the Hidden Treasure (Matthew 13:44).
I wonder if the same words belong at the end of Jesus’ own story of birth, life, death and resurrection. In Jesus, God showed up in an unlikely person and an unlikely place, to make vivid that this is what holiness and divinity and love incarnate look like. Now go and do likewise. Go and love God, love each other, teach, hope, risk, speak truth, face powers, suffer, love some more, lose your life and then discover a whole new life. What you read in scripture, what you see in Jesus, what you admire in the saints … filled with the power of the Spirit, go and do likewise.