Have you ever known anyone in need of grace and mercy?

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, March 1, 2017

“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion.” Luke 10:33

Not long ago, my family and I were traveling along the road, and my wife saw a homeless man. He was 70 years old, walking up Hwy. 74 towards Forest City, N.C., and he looked so poor, so sad, and honestly, desperate. My wife has a heart for people in need, and when she gets on her to mind to reach out, there’s no stopping her. I tried to, but failed.

I said, “We’re running late already…we’ve got the boys in the car…someone else can do it.” So we pass on by. But then, I hear my wife say, “You know? It’s kind of cold out. I bet he would like a nice place to sleep tonight. Let’s go back and see if he needs us to help him.” By then, I had to give up control of the moment.

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We went back, and we spoke with him. He was traveling to Virginia, and he needed a ride. He was already fed. We actually didn’t have enough money to house him in the one hotel in town, and he was really in need of a ride we couldn’t give him. He was thankful for us stopping by, but we were forced to leave him without giving him the help we had hoped we could give him. 

We left feeling so defeated. My wife was upset because she couldn’t be of more help to the man. I was bothered because I showed very little grace and mercy to him. I’ll be honest with you. I judged him. I was more concerned about my own well being than his, and I had very little compassion.

In that moment God began to show me that I had a lot of growing up to do. I would need to start seeing people more through His loving eyes. The man we met on the highway that day was an opportunity to share God’s love, but I didn’t care enough about his soul. I couldn’t even get past the physical condition of the man to see or even ask about his spiritual condition.

The truth is we have all been on the receiving end of grace and mercy before. People have been kind to us. People have forgiven us. People have helped us. People have loved us and cared for us in our time of need. But do we do the same for others?

Jesus gave an account about a certain man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. He was attacked by thieves, wounded, stripped of his clothing, and left for dead. The traveller was left isolated, beaten, dirty, and robbed of everything he had. Both a Levite and a priest see this needy and dying man lying on the side of the road, and for reasons unexplained, they pass by. In their moment of coming through for the traveler, they passed it up to carry on with their religious business of that day.

The traveler was actually helped and brought back to health by a merciful and compassionate Samaritan. The Samaritans in Jesus’ day were treated as inferiors to the Jews (You can read about it in 2 Kings 17:24-41). For a Samaritan to help a Jew in that day would have been unheard of! It was treason in the eyes of religious Jews!

How we need more Samaritans in the world! We need to begin to see people for who they are, and what they really need! What we need to see are true believers in Jesus Christ who will compassionately begin to reach out to those in need of the grace, compassion, and salvation of Jesus Christ instead of all the nonsense we are seeing lately through all of the hate, fighting, arguing, grumbling, protesting, complaining, and lashing out against others through whatever means necessary. It’s sickening to see so many people (Christians included) out humiliating one another instead of pointing people to what this world needs most, and that’s Jesus Christ!

What does the Samaritan do here? He sees a guy who is beaten beyond recognition, who is dirty, robbed, dying, and broken, and he has compassion on him. He doesn’t ask him about his nationality first. He doesn’t ask him about his sexual orientation or if he has a disease, or if he’s a Samaritan or a Jew or a Christian or a Muslim or an American or what political platform he supports.

The Bible tells us that the Samaritan was moved with compassion. That’s deep love. He has pity on him, and for the first time, someone stopped by this beaten and broken man and saw him for who he was – a soul, a life, someone in need of relief, cleansing, care, rest, and rescuing.

My challenge for us today is simply this: When you see hurting people, broken people, spiritually lost people, needy people, sinful people, and wounded people, could you begin to see them as Jesus does?

He sees and meets people right where they are in life, and can change them for eternity through His grace, mercy, and love. How many dying people are out there in the world who simply need to see through your own life that there is hope? Notice them. Reach them. Give them the help they need. His name is Jesus.

~ Rev. Peter McDonald, Midway Baptist Church