Did the lawyer “Go, and do likewise”?
It is human nature to picture ourselves in a story being told. We commonly insert ourselves into books and movies no matter how realistic or unrealistic it may be. Whether or not it is likely that we would be the hero or the villain, we are almost sure to view ourselves as the hero. There is no doubt the lawyer immediately identified himself with the priest until Jesus portrayed the priest as an unloving elitist. And, there is no doubt the lawyer immediately identified himself with the Levite until Jesus portrayed the priest as an unloving elitist. Then Jesus mentioned the hero, the Samaritan. The lawyer would not have identified himself with the Samaritan. He hated Samaritans. The internal struggle for the lawyer would have been that Samaritan was the hero of the story, not the priest or Levite that he identified himself with. The lawyer had an immediate decision to make. Who would he have chosen to identify with; or, would he have been too confused to make a decision?
I believe there is a third choice. I believe that the lawyer through self-justification chose to identify himself with the priest and Levite, but assumed that if given the opportunity that he would act in love and mercy as the Samaritan. Self-justification is a powerful and deceitful ability we all possess. Many times as Christians we live like the priest and Levite, assuming that given the opportunity that we will love like the Samaritan. It is much easier to “believe” like the lawyer than to “do” like the Samaritan. Loving our neighbors will take sacrifice. Sacrifices we must make to love our neighbors are nothing compared to what we must sacrifice if we do not love our neighbors.
Did the lawyer “Go, and do likewise”? We will never know whether the interaction with Jesus changed the lawyer’s worldview. A more appropriate question is: Will you “Go, and do likewise”?