In what is often called the story of the Good Samaritan, the Lord Jesus shows us what crisis care looks like. Surprisingly unaided by religious figures, the nearly dead (and presumably Jewish) man in the ditch needed immediate rescue. Finally it arrived, but from an unexpected source. A Samaritan came and “took care” of him (Luk 10:34). The Greek epimeleomai (translated “take care”) is found twice in the story and has pastoral links. Paul, in his list of qualifications for elders, writes that they are to “take care” (epimeleomai) of the church of God (1Ti 3:5). The Greek root (melo) is used in 1 Peter 5:7, describing God’s care for us, also within a pastoral context.
Although a shepherd heart should be found in every Christian, it is a necessity for those who lead God’s assembly. Sometimes the care required reaches crisis levels, as it did for the man in Jesus’ story. For many believers today, the care they need is similarly urgent. With struggles exacerbated by a global pandemic, believers are being attacked from without and within. Doubts about God’s goodness invade the mind. Anxiety and depression have some feeling helpless and alone, with not a few experiencing suicidal thoughts. Some are overwhelmed with grief as loved ones have suddenly passed. Others have tragically turned to addicting substances to deal with their pain. Now those substances have them in their grip. With such profound and complex need, we often feel totally inadequate to help. But Jesus’ story shows us that we can.
Notice the concern of the Samaritan. Jesus says, “He saw him.” He got close enough to see the man’s need. How close are we to believers around us? Close enough to see their physical, emotional and spiritual needs?
Arguably, the priest and Levite may have been concerned also, but they kept traveling. Not the Samaritan. Notice his compassion – “when he saw him, he had compassion on him.” He didn’t see anything the other two didn’t, but he felt something they didn’t. Do we have merely a concern for the needs of God’s people or a heart to do something for them?
In order to rescue this man, there was a cost. The Samaritan poured oil and wine into his wounds, bandaged them, and paid to bring him to an inn. So too will it cost us to aid believers who need crisis care, whether it be measured in hours, currency or both. Love willingly sacrifices for others.
The Samaritan also demonstrated courage. After all, those who robbed and beat this victim could be lurking nearby and do the same to him. But he took the risk because he had a heart to help. Do we? Are we willing to risk the misunderstanding and criticism that getting involved may bring?
Finally, notice his commitment. He entrusted the care of this victim into the hands of the innkeeper and promised that he would return and pay whatever additional amount was due. How far into the future does our commitment go to help a fellow believer? Do we somehow think we’ve “done our duty” with a quick email or text? Crisis care demands more. And like the Samaritan, there may be times when getting others involved is required, knowing our limitations.
We may not feel qualified to help everyone in every crisis, but we can certainly do some of what this Samaritan did for those in need. “Go, and do thou likewise.”