He was traveling on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho... alone. That in itself was a foolish thing to do. The road to Jericho was a lonely, winding, treacherous road with a history of being a favorite place for thieves to attack unsuspecting travelers. After doing so, it was easy to slip into the wilderness and make your escape. While it's not always true, there is truth in the old adage: There is safety in numbers.
The story is a familiar one but for the purpose of this blog, I am not interested in what the priest and Levite did or did not do. I am far more interested in taking a look at exactly what the Samaritan did. I realize that often we just look at the fact that the "religious people" walked by while the man who the Jews considered to be a "dog" helped him. This is true but I believe there is more to this story.
Luke tells us the Samaritan had compassion on this stranger. The very act of stopping and giving aid was a risk. For all the Samaritan knew, the man could be merely bait. When someone stopped to help him, the thieves would attack yet another unsuspecting traveler. Perhaps it was a trap and the man was not a victim of a crime but part of a cunning scheme. He would play the role of an injured victim and when someone stopped to help him, BAM!!!!!
The Samaritan couldn't help the man if he remained upon his donkey, horse or camel. He had to dismount and get down into the dirt... if he was to be of any help to this man. When we stop what we are doing and "get down in the road" to help someone physically or... spiritually, we are daring to take a risk. Anyone who has helped someone only to have that person take advantage of them at a later date will tell you this is true. When we open up ourselves to help someone with their physical and/or spiritual needs, we have to be willing to take a risk and be vulnerable.
Notice the Samaritan did not scold the man for getting into that situation. He did not preach a sermon on being more careful. He did not give him advice on what to do the next time. That was not what the man needed at the moment. He needed medical attention and care.
Let me tell you something which some people won't like to hear. We talk too much. It often seems the more we are involved in "ministry", the more we talk. We need to stop talking so much... and start listening more. Hurting people, those who are in crisis don't need a lecture. They need to know someone cares about them and how do you show them that you care? You listen more than you talk. The very act of listening sends the message to the other party that they are important enough to be listened too. Think about it. How do you feel when you know someone is listening to you as opposed to simply talking to you?
There is a time and a place for giving advice/instruction. However, there is also a time to simply love and care for a wounded soul and allow healing to take place. If we don't do the latter first, then we are not truly loving our neighbor.