Yesterday, I began to slowly stabilize, slowly healing from the raw wounds of last week's meetings. The sobbing settles down into sniffles and then that deep silence that follows poured out tears. In that silence, God often talks to me. Quiet things rise to my thoughts...
The story of The Good Samaritan - well that is the title we always give it. It is as if the very way we were taught Bible stories puts a spotlight on certain people on the stage. Our eyes follow them and the others fade into the background. This is also the story of The Beaten Jew, but we don't tell his story. He is just a prop from our Sunday School point of view. Not to Jesus. I don't think Jesus was telling a flat, one-dimensional story.
He was also telling the story of The Beaten Jew. The one who endured not only the attack by robbers - that sudden, horrific, cruel act that left him bloody and battered. Helpless on the side of the road needing immediate aid if he was to survive, he lay there. Who knows how long?
Then hope - his people - those set apart to serve and minister. Through his swollen eyes, he saw them approach. But they walked on by. They thought about themselves more than him. Did not want to minister to his obvious needs, abandoning him in his crisis. Perhaps they did not want to risk that he would die, and they would be defiled. We don't know. But they walked on by. Twice. The priest and the Levite.
His heart was crushed. His hope proved empty. Questions swarm in his mind, his faith called into doubt. His head sinks back into the bloody dirt around him while flies buzzed over his wounds. He doesn't even bother to open his eyes at the next footsteps that sound on the path. What hope is there?
But while those who should have cared did not, God had not left him. He only sends in another - not the ones we expect, but the one God could count on. God always has His remnant, His faithful ones, like He told Elijah. He always has those He can send in. He has not forgotten.
As much as this story is the story of The Good Samaritan, it is also the story of The Bruised Jew. What did he need? Bandaging, oil, rest, food, care - these were provided. It is also the story of The God Who Did Not Forget. It is the story of a God who was not hampered by the failure of His own.
And I sit here wondering... did the Beaten Jew take longer to recover because not only was his body beaten, but his hope, his heart, too? Maybe he did... but God was there.
So this story comes to my thoughts. An awareness that this, too, did not surprise God. It did me. It whammed me from out of the blue when I was already wounded, but it did not surprise God. He'd seen it before and had His proven neighbor ready - the one He could count on to show mercy.
This story follows a command to love others as ourselves. It answers a specific question from one seeking to justify himself in not obeying that command. We are to love without any excuse. Without justification to exclude - which means, I guess, even that we are to love the priest and the Levite who thought of themselves more and rejected the needs of the wounded. We are to show mercy. Even to the unmerciful.
And we, as children, still look up and ask our Father for correction of wrongs. Love seeks the good of others. At times, it is good to be corrected.
Mercy and correction... an interesting balance. I haven't figured it all out. But I will write out something I wrote in my journal at the beginning of this pain from this person.
"God, Hebrews 13:17 "as ones who will give account".. You said it, not me. And I will hold You to it. Hold him to account. I chose to forgive for Your sake. You hold him to account for my sake. Defend Your daughter. Correct Your child. Hold him to account."
Balanced with mercy. Both are important. Correction and mercy. Perhaps correct him in the same way I love it when God corrects me - with a quiet gentleness.
But my job is to show mercy. Even to those who don't.