In the Bible a donkey could be symbolic of knowledge, humility, poverty, courage and peace. It could also symbolize a sign of richness befitting the House of David. So in that sense, they could also represent commerce and wealth.
As we look at the care the Samaritan provided to the man beaten and left on the side of the road, we see all of the above. We see the Samaritan use every resource he had at his disposal to provide aide: he used his oil, wine and bandages; he used his only method of transportation for the injured man (his donkey), he delayed his trip, he paid for ongoing care and lodging plus any additional expenses that were incurred. All for the care of a stranger. Remember, the Samaritan was traveling so his resources were limited based on the journey he had planned. In spite of that, he withheld nothing.
The other two men in the parable, the priest and the Levite (who were considered holy men), did not miss a step and walked on by. I’m sure they were busy with their own plans and agendas. They simply stayed on course as planned. Maybe they were even on holy business trips!
The parable following the “Good Samaritan” in Luke is about Mary and Martha. The story tells of how Mary chose to sit at Jesus’ feet while Martha toiled away.
When I looked at these two parables together I saw something I hadn’t seen before. The priest and the Levite were no different than Martha. The similarities were all wrapped around being so busy and task oriented that they missed the opportunity right in front of them.
How often have I been busy doing something that I missed the broken person in my path that I needed to minister to? Did I stop what I was doing to attend to the opportunity right in front of my face? Or did I find what I was doing more important?
I’m sure the Samaritan had plans at the other end of his journey that had to be changed because of the delay and care he provided to the man on the side of the road. But for him compassion prevailed. Compassion without any strings attached. It was not about score-keeping. It was not for acknowledgement. It was all about caring for another human being in need. A stranger.
Sometimes it is through these delays and detours in our journey that God does a work in our own heart. When we are able to set our interests aside, it opens up room to have the love of God flow through us in a new way.
Lord, give me the wisdom to see opportunities to be Your hands and feet when people are in need. Place compassion in my heart to stop what I am doing for the sake of others. Help me to love like You do.