I have heard a lot of discussion about the parable of the good Samaritan among Christians debating the crisis and President Donald Trump’s ban. What surprises me as I listen to these conversations is that many people are using the parable to justify not taking care of their refugee neighbors.
“The Good Samaritan didn’t take the injured Jew home with him.”
“The Good Samaritan found him on his way.”
I’m afraid in justifying ourselves, we are missing the very point Jesus was trying to make.
Luke 10 begins with Jesus sending out the 72. He tells them not to take any provisions and not to greet anyone on the road. If people take them in and receive them, they are to bless their home. If they don’t, he tells them to “shake the dust off their feet” and leave.
What stands out the most to me is that he says he is sending them out as lambs among wolves. There is risk. They could be devoured (Luke 10:1-12).
When the 72 come back, they are amazed at everything they saw. Demons were cast out; sick people got healed. Jesus himself says he saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven while they were out. He tells them they now have authority to tread on scorpions and snakes and over all the power of the enemy. “Nevertheless,” he warns, “rejoice only that your name is written in heaven.”
Then, caught up in the Spirit, Jesus prayed, rejoicing in the Father’s will. Rejoicing that the Father revealed hidden things to his disciples.
Let’s pause a moment. What are these “hidden things” Jesus talks about? Could it be the spiritual reality that no matter where his disciples go, no matter whom they move toward with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and no matter who seeks to destroy them in the process, through him they have power over everything the enemy could throw their way?
It is on the heels of this experience that Luke recounts the interaction between Jesus and a self-righteous lawyer. It is after rejoicing over the power God has revealed to his disciples that Jesus tells the parable of a man who traveled outside of his country and cared for an injured enemy.
Who is my neighbor? That is the point of the parable.
And my neighbor is anyone in need of something I can help them with.
Jesus sets the story up as a Samaritan traveling in Jewish territory. He was not going about his business in his local community. He was traveling away from home. We don’t know why — we don’t have to.
Anyone needing the world’s goods, goods we have — he is our neighbor.
When Trump orders a ban on refugees from Iraq, we can respectfully appeal. And then, if he doesn’t listen to our appeal, we must get up and go to them. We should not throw fits, like spoiled kids. Neither should we give up: “Oh, well, guess we can’t do anything for them because our secular government doesn’t want to. And we need to honor our authorities.”
Instead, we should do what the good Samaritan did — which is precisely what Jesus did.
He left his luxurious home in glory. He could have justified how he didn’t need to come. He could have stayed and experienced wonderful relationship with the Father all himself.
But he didn’t. He gave his life that we might share in that relationship. He came and died, that we might find refuge.
If you sense God directing you to get involved in helping refugees in the Middle East, here are a few organizations I recommend getting in contact with:
What is God saying to you?
Asher Witmer is a husband, father, writer and teacher from Los Angeles currently serving as a principal at a small international school in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He blogs at asherwitmer.com, where this post first appeared.