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During the season of Lent, I’m preaching a sermon series entitled The Journey.  Along with the weekly sermon, I’ll be blogging on my church’s website.  So I’ve decided to put those posts on this – my personal blog – as well.  Here’s the fourth week…

Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers.  They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.  So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.  Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.  The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper.  ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”  The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”  Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”                                                                                      (Luke 10:30-37)

One of my all-time favorite movies is The Fisher King(released in 1991) starring Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges.  Within the film the story is told of The Fool and the Fisher King…
A young boy spends the night alone in the forest to prove his courage so he could become king. While spending the night alone, he’s visited by a sacred vision. Out of the fire appears the Holy Grail. A voice spoke from the fire saying, “You shall be keeper of the grail so that it may heal the hearts of men.” But the boy was blinded by greater visions of a life filled with power and glory and beauty. And in this state of radical amazement he felt for a brief moment not like a boy, but invincible, like God. So, he reached into the fire to take the grail, and the grail vanished, leaving him with his hand in the fire to be terribly wounded. As this boy grew older, his wound grew deeper until, one day; life for him lost its meaning. He had no faith in any man, not even himself. He couldn’t love or feel loved.  He began to die. One day a fool wandered into the castle and found the king alone. And being simple minded he did not see a king. He only saw a man alone and in pain. He asked the king, “What ails you friend?” The king replied, “I’m thirsty. I need some water to cool my throat.” So the fool took a cup from beside his bed, filled it with water and handed it to the king. As the king began to drink, he realized his wound was healed. He looked in his hands and there was the Holy Grail, that which he sought all of his life. He turned to the fool and said with amazement, “How could you find that which my brightest and bravest men could not?” And the fool replied, “I don’t know. I only knew that you were thirsty.”

 

In Luke, chapter 10, Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan.  It is a story that has left an indelible imprint on our culture.  We have Good Samaritan Laws and Good Samaritan Hospitals.  Jesus tells the story in response to a question posed by an expert in religious law.  He wants to know what he must do to inherit eternal life.  “Love” is Jesus’ initial answer: a very simple response; but much harder to achieve.  It is hard to love because love requires genuine compassion.  It’s hard to fake compassion.  In the story of the Fisher King, the fool reveals what the king has been seeking his whole life.  The fool has no special knowledge or training.  He has compassion.  Likewise, in the story of the Good Samaritan, the Samaritan is simply traveling along when he sees a wounded man.  He feels compassion for him and, from that place of compassion, responds to his needs.  So life is not found in the desperate, individualized pursuit for glory; eternal life is here and now if – as we travel the road of life – we respond with compassion to those who are in need.  A fool and a Samaritan are the archetype of compassion.  “Go and do likewise,” says Jesus.

 

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