Do you regularly pick up hitchhikers? Most people don’t, perhaps mostly because they’re scared the hitchhiker will pull a gun or knife on them. To someone from another culture, this wouldn’t make much sense, that a hitchhiker would even want to do that. To us, it doesn’t make sense that anyone would want to take vengeance on a good Samaritan. But this was a very real threat in that culture, for the scenario Jesus made up in that parable. From Poet & Peasant and Through Peasant Eyes,
What we are dealing with is an irrational response, not a reasoned action. We have no evidence of any inn in the middle of the desert. The natural assumption of the story is that the Samaritan took the man downhill to Jericho…. In any case the inn is either in a community or in touch with one. The Samaritan, by allowing himself to be identified, runs a grave risk of having the family of the wounded man seek him out to take vengeance upon him. After all, who else is there? The group mind of Middle Eastern peasant society makes a totally illogical judgment…. The stranger who involves himself in an accident is often considered partially, if not totally, responsible…. After all, why did he stop?
Have you ever wondered why the conflict in the Middle East never ends? You’ll wonder no more if you envision this better. Golda Meir said, “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.” And more from my above-mentioned source,
Mosaic legislation established cities of refuge for people under the threat of death from blood vengeance retaliation. This legislation provided an escape valve for a custom it could not eradicate. The concept of retaliation, deeply reflected in the Old Testament, is still with us. Modern law in many Middle Eastern countries also makes certain allowances for blood vengeance killings…the custom of blood-revenge is too deeply rooted to be under the control of these feudal lords…. It is plain that Moses, clothed with all the influence and power of an inspired law-giver, could not eradicate this dreadful custom, and was merely commissioned to mitigate its horrors by establishing cities of refuge…. Thus this phenomenon was a problem for Old Testament society and continued in full force through the nineteenth century.
What drives such irrational behavior except a self-righteous, judgmental and even a suspicious spirit? A spirit governed by an easily-angered people, prone to bitterness? And what drives a good Samaritan to take care of a man half-dead on the roadside except for love and concern? Especially in light of such a vengeance-seeking culture? 1 Corinthians 13 says “spirituality” is nothing but a clanging noise if there’s no love.
Praise God for the love he showed us by sending his Son. Let’s pray we’ll love each other and those around us in the same way.