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Loving That Certain Man

  A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. . . . But a certain Samaritan, . . . when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, . . . and took care of him. (Luke 10:30, 33?34)

There has been much discussion about the compassion of the good Samaritan, but who was that certain man traveling alone on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho? Who was it that so easily fell among thieves and was wounded, humiliated, robbed, passively ignored, and left to die until an unlikely comforter arrived? It is you and me. We are that certain man! Even Jesus allowed himself to succumb to this fate for our sake. Was he not humiliated, wounded, deserted, and left to die? His own apostles "came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side" (Luke 10:32). On that seemingly merciless day, it was Joseph of Arimathaea who was Jesus' good Samaritan. He was the only one with enough Christly affection to bind up Jesus' lifeless body and take him to his own resting place.

We carry the bag that the thief desires in our own thoughts, including the physical senses, our educated beliefs and practices, our bodies, and all the so-called laws that evil makes to steal away our divine connection. Accustomed to our way of living, we move along life's pathway with uncertainty, and with each new challenge, we walk forth with only that which we carry with us. Will those firmly held beliefs, capabilities, and routines keep us safe on the road to Jericho? Jesus' choice of Jerusalem and Jericho is significant. Jerusalem is defined as the possession of peace and the abode of harmony, while Jericho means a place of fragrance or constant pleasant odor. Was that certain man enticed away from the harmony of peace by a sensual fragrance? In our search for personal happiness, we often go astray and leave behind the spiritual harmony that was ours from the beginning.

In Jesus' parable, both the Levite and the priest represent the intellectual figureheads that the man depended on for help. The Levites were trained to preserve the letter of the Mosaic Law and to practice its traditions, and the priests expounded upon that law, but church politics did not require either of them to understand or practice that law in their hearts. Jesus often scolded them: "Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me (Matt 15:7?8). He made clear where Christ stands on the subject: "I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts" (Rev 2:23). No human advice, sensual body, intellectual pontification, or religious rite can prepare us to search the reins and hearts. Christ provides the opportunity and the answers required for spiritual progress, and nothing else does.

Jesus said that the Samaritan poured in oil and wine to heal the man's wounds. Mary Baker Eddy defined oil as "consecration; charity; gentleness; prayer; heavenly inspiration" (SH 592:25). She described wine as the "inspiration of Love" and "understanding." Consecration to good enables us to hear Christ's voice and properly decipher the reins and hearts, while the inspiration of Love sees the body and heart as its own idea - whole and perfect. These are the real actors on the scene. Consecration is the human activity that leads us to Love. Our business, then, is for us to transform ourselves from being that certain man who fell among thieves into the good Samaritan whose mental bag is filled with the oil and wine that cannot be stolen.

The divine pattern of redemption and healing requires mankind to sever the connection with this world's enticements, a parting of the ways that is rarely sweet. After Jesus proved that there was no thought that could be taken from him by thieves - "I can of mine own self do nothing" - he returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit (John 5:30). His example illustrates Christ's standard. Is it necessary for us to be confronted with thieves and violence before we get humble enough to know we can of ourselves do nothing? Perhaps, but our redemption is sure, and our remedy is at hand.

Jesus told Nicodemus, who had come to him at night, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). To recognize birth from above, we must first give up our hold on birth from beneath. Jesus continued with an explanation: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again" (John 3:6?7). Was not Jesus acting as the good Samaritan, pouring in the oil and wine that Nicodemus so desperately needed? This so-called ruler of the Jews was mentally lost, wounded, naked, and half dead on the pharisaical road until Jesus poured in oil and wine.

Be consecrated with ready wine to help those who have been downtrodden by their lack of faith, and pour the inspiration of Love into those with a wounded self-image. Isaiah assured us that "if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday" (58:10). When intimidated by thieves that are attempting to steal your conscience, livelihood, and life, do not attempt to teach evil a lesson by striking up a conversation with it. Instead, rebuke it in the same way Jesus did: "Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve" (Luke 4:8). When God announces your holy mission, may humility and honest conviction answer, "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven," for Christ lifts you up above mortal life's challenges to behold spiritual self, alive to Life without those challenges (Matt 6:10).

George Denninger ©

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