July 13, 2013
We were driving past an empty paddock on the way to the local village library. Not quite empty. One sheep lay on the grass; she looked tired and very alone. Making a mental note to mention the sheep to my husband, we drove on.
Returning just before sunset, our son called out excitedly, “Look, Mum, look at the sheep!”
To our amazement a group of four ponies were gathered around the sick sheep. She was now on her legs and craning her neck up to receive the head strokes from the pony in front of her. All around her, ponies were gently nudging and rubbing their velvety mouths against her. They were encouraging her, and caring for her. Ponies caring for a sick sheep!
Suddenly I recalled the Good Samaritan story in the Bible, a story Jesus told to show the people that Godly living means being neighbourly to all – being caring, kind and compassionate.
You see, when Jesus was alive on earth, things were in a bad way. A bit like they are now, in the 21st century - evil had infected the world. And instead of spreading God’s love to other nations, the Jewish people had begun turning inward, looking only to themselves, and were moving ever further away from God’s love. They were imploding.
The Jewish priests seemed to have forgotten that “...God is love...” (1 John 4:8), and in love’s place they had created many restrictive laws of their own. One of these laws taught that a neighbouring race of people, the Samaritans, was unclean and ungodly. The Jewish people were to stay away, and were not permitted to mingle or even talk with a Samaritan.
But Jesus showed them how ridiculous the priests’ laws were. He told the story of a man who was robbed, attacked, beaten and left for dead. You can read this story in Luke 10: 30-36.
Who would save the poor man?
The Jewish priest who happened to be walking down the road? No. He, “...passed by on the other side.”
The Levite (a member of a Jewish tribe)? No. He, “...came and looked, and passed by on the other side.”
What about an “ungodly” Samaritan? Would he save the beaten man? YES! “...when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’”
What does this mean to us today? To me, I just think of those ponies caring for the sick sheep. Do we choose to help only those we know and approve of? Does it matter what people believe, how they behave, or if they are completely different to us? Not one bit. Jesus wants us to be neighbourly to all who come into our lives – kind, compassionate and offering a helping hand!
Jesus tells us, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:37