Note: In January 2011 my wife and I went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. This post is part of a series of blogs I have written to convey what I learned while on this life changing trip. You can read about the entire trip in the devotional book Touching the Footprints of Jesus.
The story is found in Luke 10:25-37. A lawyer asked Jesus who was his neighbor. In response Jesus told the story of a Jewish man traveling along the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. Robbers attacked him, stripped him of his belongings and left him for dead. First a priest, and then a Levite passed by the man. Though they saw him, they ignored his cries for help. Then a Samaritan passed by. The Samaritans and Jews were enemies. Yet, it was the Samaritan that stopped to help the Jewish man. He put him on his donkey and carried him to the inn. He paid the innkeeper to keep the Jewish man in the inn until he could recover. The Samaritan even said that if the bill was more than he expected, he would pay the balance the next time he came by. It is a powerful story of the need to overcome cultural and racial differences and help other people when they are need.
I found it interesting that though the site is right beside the road and is one of the most famous parables that Jesus told, no one in Israel has ever bothered to develop the site. There it sits, easily accessible. It would seem like an easy site to develop, and rumor is that it will be eventually. Yet, after 2000 years, “eventually” has not come yet. I cannot help but wonder if the reason a site that speaks of racial reconciliation in a land of ongoing racial strife has been ignored for a reason. Perhaps if the site was developed, then those who live in the area would have to deal the meaning of the site in a way they may not yet be ready to. It is much easier to ignore the meaning of the area if the site sits undeveloped and unvisited.
Thinking about this issue makes me wonder about racial reconciliation in the United States. Though Americans have made great progress in the last fifty years, Sunday morning still tends to be the most segregated hour of the week. After all this time, surely Christians should have been able to overcome their racial difficulties and worship together. Unless, of course, we just do not want to deal with that concept yet . . . .