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Wounded Healer

Wounded Healer

Words of Faith 8-6-18

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Luke 10:25-37

   On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

   [26] "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"

   [27] He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

   [28] "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."

   [29] But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

   [30] In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. [31] A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. [32] So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. [33] But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. [34] He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. [35] The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'

   [36] "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"

   [37] The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."

   Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."


         This story is especially powerful because the Samaritans were a despised people in the time of Jesus. They were descended from the "Northern tribes" of Israel that stayed in the Holy land during the exile about 500 years before Jesus came.

       These people had mixed in marriage and religion with pagans and then set up worship on Mt. Gerazim. Even though they used the same Bible they lived next door and hated each other. This was the last person a Jew would expect to stop and help. Today, the word "Samaritan" means someone who stops to help, but in the time of Jesus it meant someone hated and despised.

       We call this story the parable of the "Good Samaritan." That is not a term found in Luke's text but it is assigned to the story by publishers and interpreters. It is a troubling name in some respect because it belies a sort of bigotry that was a part of that culture. To call the man a "Good Samaritan" would have sounded like an oxymoron, or apparent contradiction, to the first hearers. It would have indicated a sort of surprise that those two words would be put together.

       In fact, this modern phrase smacks of insult. It would be like naming a story "The parable of the Honest Jew" or the parable of the "Industrious Indian" as if to imply that all Jews are dishonest and all Native Americans are lazy. So, this popular name for the story almost reinforces for us the prejudice and disdain that the Jewish people had for their closest neighbors geographically and spiritually.

       So how might we rename this parable? To have an idea we must learn a bit more about the Samaritan man who helped the half-dead Jew.

         While most scholars agree that Jesus told this story as a teaching parable, we are not told by Jesus or by Luke that this was a parable at all. Often Luke will say: "And He taught them with this parable." Or Jesus would begin by saying: "It is like a man who went away for a time..." Here, Jesus did not say anything like that. This has led many to conclude that the wounded man and the Samaritan may well have been actual literal persons that Jesus was aware of. Whatever the case, there is more depth to the Samaritan than we often lift up. What do we know about him?

           Here are some facts. We know that this Samaritan traveled the road between Jericho and Jerusalem with some regularity. This was a very unusual place for a Samaritan to be, but he may have had business that took him on the road. He traveled alone which was dangerous in itself especially as a Samaritan. A priest or Levite would be safer. He surely knew what it was like to be rejected. He would daily be confronted with people who hated him. He lived daily with people turning away, looking with disdain, or even uttering curses and epithets as he passed them on their way to Jerusalem.  

         It is possible that the Samaritan was a man of some financial resources because he owned a donkey and he was able to purchase medicine for the wounded man. He had money and he had good credit. He may even have frequented this very Inn, such that the proprietor knew he was good for the debt.   Imagine how hard it would be for an ethnic person to establish personal credit in a business owned by people who traditionally hate your ethnic group! This man had proven himself. We know that he was willing to take a risk and help someone who personally had done him no wrong but was part of a group that had hated him.

           We can rather confidently know these things. What we do not know is "why?" Why did the Samaritan help this man? Was he just good? Was it because he read the same Bible that the Jewish people read and he knew that the Bible says: Love God and Love your neighbor as yourself?

           Perhaps the Samaritan man could especially identify with the man beaten and left for dead. We don't know, but if this man had traveled these roads as often as the story seems to indicate and if he traveled alone, if he traveled as a member of a hated ethnic group that thieves would assume was an easy target, it may well be that this man had been robbed, perhaps more than once. This man may well have known what it was like to be beaten, robbed, left for dead and then have religious people who read the same Bible walk past and perhaps even spit upon him.

       You see from the world's view this Samaritan had every reason to walk to the other side of the road. But for some reason he did not. He had every reason to be bitter, but he was not. He had every reason to go another way, but he did not.

       It is even possible that this man was part of the Samaritan revival described in John chapter 4. Something inside of the Samaritan, perhaps the Spirit of God, may have reminded him of what it is like to be wounded and he used this woundedness for healing. It is a miracle of God when God uses the very experiences that could cause bitter hatred to motivate an act of compassion.

         Perhaps a better name for this passage would be "The Story of the Wounded Healer". The truth is that God desires to use our wounds for healing. While we don't want to over allegorize the teaching of Jesus we cannot miss the fact that, in many ways, this is the story of Christ Himself.

       Jesus was from a small town that gave Him no respect. He was despised and rejected. He was a man of sorrows acquainted with grief. It is by His wounds that we are healed. He gathers us from the side of the road when others have wounded us and left us for dead. We are destitute, but He anoints our wounds with healing balm. He pays for our respite and care as we recover. It is ALL on His bill. He is good for it. Guaranteed.

           And Jesus challenges us.   Jesus concluded by saying-- GO AND DO LIKEWISE. Jesus does NOT challenge us to be Good Samaritans or Good Christians, or Good Jews or a Good ANYTHING. He challenges us to be wounded healers who see our neighbors in a whole new way.


         Father, open my eyes to what You have done for me in Jesus. Open my eyes to what You want to do through me. Show me the way You want to heal me and then use even my wound to heal others. In Jesus' name.