The Jericho Road is no more than a thirty-minute drive from where we live. Yet the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37) can be as distant as the period of time in which it happened. Such a dramatic experience—passing up someone in dire need—would never happen to us! But how about someone who is not in such dire need? Let’s consider someone who needs just a little help.
I do most of my weekly grocery shopping at a supermarket ten minutes from our house. I like to shop early in the morning so I can get home in case David needs the car to go to town. So there is always in the back of my mind the urgency of hurrying to go and return as quickly as possible.
On one recent shopping day as I was hurrying along the aisles with my cart, I noticed two ladies, apparently a mother and daughter, selecting their groceries carefully and making sure they had the right item before placing it in their cart. Russian immigrants, I thought, again regretting the lackadaisical way I studied Russian years ago.
They were ahead of me in the checkout line and by the time I reached the car with my load, I saw them standing across the street at the bus stop surrounded by their bags of groceries. A very strong thought entered my mind: “Offer these two ladies a lift.”
However, I realized the whole of the back seat of our little European car was completely full with bulging shopping bags and boxes of food. No room for two ladies and their bags. But, the thought persisted: “Give them a lift. You can put some of your bags in the trunk.”
“But the groceries are packed, I’m in the driver’s seat and I’ve already started the motor,” I argued.
As I started to drive away, the younger one of these two ladies, seeing I was going in their direction, approached my car and timidly indicated that they would like a ride. With true compassion and regret on my face, I pointed to the back seat so she could see my dilemma. Crestfallen, she stepped back. I offered to take the mother in the front seat, but no, they would go together. I apologized. I apologized again, honestly regretting I couldn’t take them. I drove on.
Again the voice: “Turn around. Put some of your stuff in the back and take these ladies home.”
I continued driving. “I have to get home,” I argued. “David needs to leave immediately.”
The voice said: “Turn around, turn around. It’s not too late.”
David wasn’t waiting impatiently for me to return. In fact, he didn’t leave for town for another half hour. To this day, I am haunted by my refusal to simply obey that inner voice and do what I could to help these dear ladies. It would only have taken a few extra minutes of my time. Resistance and rebellion are still very active in my life.
From that experience, I learned a very important lesson: the opportunity to help someone always comes at an inconvenient time. It interrupts our lives and interferes with our plans. Perhaps fearing the unknown, we resist and look the other way, very much like the two men who saw someone in desperate need along the Jericho road.
-  On the Roman road from Jerusalem to Jericho, see John Wilkinson, “The Way from Jerusalem to Jericho,” Biblical Archaeologist 38:1 (March, 1975): 10-24. ↩