It's not all about money!
Jesus often used Parables to communicate great truth, and whenever he told a Parable there was sure to be a twist, a sting in the tail, some astonishing development that would cause listeners to gasp with surprise. Perhaps one of the most famous Parables would be The Good Samaritan, which certainly upset the status quo, and became a model for how to reach out to the needy and the hurting.
The initial shock of the story is that when a man is attacked, robbed and left for dead, both a priest and a Levite, two respectable religious leaders in the Jewish community, ignored the man and carried on their way on the other side of the road. If that wasn’t shock enough for the expert in the law that Jesus addressed the story to, there is a bigger shock to come - it’s a Samaritan who does stop and help the stricken traveller. Jews and Samaritans were supposed to hate each other, and Jews would have been well used to Samaritans being the villain of stories, not the hero.
Delving deeper into the Parable, you discover that the Samaritan offers us a blueprint for humanitarian support, for heartfelt help, for generous care and compassion.
First of all we see that the Samaritan gave compassion- in Luke 10:33 we read that ‘when he saw him, he took pity on him’ - In other words what he saw moved him to action.
Secondly we discover he gave care- in Luke 10:33 the Samaritan gives bandages (perhaps strips from his own clothes?), oil as a balm and wine as an antiseptic.
Thirdly, we note that the Samaritan gave his own possessions- reading in Luke 10:34 we see the man being led to an inn on the Samaritan’s own donkey.
Fourthly, we read in Luke 10:35 that the Samaritan gave his money - paying the innkeeper 2 silver coins to look after the injured man. Some translations tell us he gave 2 denarii - about 2 days wages - with the promise of more on his return.
Fifthly, in Luke 10:35 we see the Samaritan committing to visit the man on his return journey - he gave his time.
Finally, in Luke 10:36 Jesus asks which of the 3 passersby was a real neighbour to the man who’d been attacked. It’s not too much to suggest that the Samaritan gave his reputation by helping the man. Respectable people had ignored the man who had been attacked, yet the Samaritan was the one who gave to the man. His giving was crossing a boundary as Jews and Samaritans supposed to hate each other, but his care and compassion overrode any hatred, fear or suspicion he might have felt.
Perhaps we face situations where for whatever reason, metaphorically speaking we walk by on the other side. Or perhaps we throw some money at an area of need because that’s relatively easy to do, and we don’t need to engage our emotions or our energy.
The Good Samaritan reminds us that whilst money helps, there are plenty of more ways to give if only we will cross the road and see the need.