5 Pentecost - Luke 10:25-37
Who do you think suffered more pain: the man who fell into the hands of robbers, or the lawyer who fell into the hands of Jesus?
We are so familiar with the one story, too familiar maybe, that we are prone to miss the other one in which a lawyer stood up to test Jesus.
Jesus turns his question on him and makes him look silly for asking.
That won’t do, so the lawyer follows up with another question to justify himself, to save face, to salvage something from this contest he started and is now losing badly.
And who is my neighbor? he asks.
Jesus responds with a story that strips him, beats him, and leaves him half dead.
A man … Jesus begins, talking to a man.
He already has him exactly where he wants him.
Storytellers know that hearers identify with the first character they meet.
The man to whom Jesus is telling the story will hitch his wagon to the man for the rest of the story because right now there’s no one else to follow.
The man goes downhill through the hood.
He walks the winding, hilly path full of switchbacks and hiding spots alone.
Predictably, he gets jumped, robbed, rolled, and left in a ditch to die.
Questions gather in the lawyer’s head, but the story keeps moving.
A priest also goes down that road, so away from rather than towards the temple—he’s not
heading to work.
Holy business, including purity laws, should not be an issue—but he crosses the road, maybe
because he’s a chicken.
So likewise a Levite—clergy continue to be unhelpful.
The people who know God, and God’s law, are not very loving or neighborly, and time is wasting for the helpless man with whom the lawyer has subconsciously identified.
Then comes the right hook to the soul.
A smarmy looking foreigner wearing a San Francisco Giants hat and an I voted sticker