It was a bitter, cold evening in northern
Virginia many years ago. The old man’s beard was glazed by winter’s frost while
he waited for a ride across the river. The wait seemed endless. His body became
numb and stiff from the frigid north wind.
Then he heard the faint, steady rhythm of
approaching hooves galloping along the frozen path. Anxiously, he watched as
several horsemen rounded the bend. He let the first one pass by without an
effort to get his attention. Then another passed by, and another. Finally, the
last rider neared the spot where the old man sat like a snow statue. As this
one drew near, the old man caught the rider’s eye and said, “Sir, would you
mind giving an old man a ride to the other side? There doesn’t appear to be a
passageway by foot.”
Reining his horse, the rider replied, “Sure
thing. Hop aboard.” Seeing that the old man was unable to lift his half-frozen
body from the ground, the horseman dismounted and helped the old man onto the
horse. The horseman took the old man not just across the river, but to his
destination, which was just a few miles away.
As they neared the tiny but cozy cottage, the
horseman’s curiosity caused him to inquire, “Sir, I notice that you let several
other riders pass by without making an effort to secure a ride. Then I came up
and you immediately asked me for a ride. I’m curious why, on such a bitter
winter night, you would wait and ask the last rider.
What if I had refused and left you there?”
The old man lowered himself slowly down from
the horse, looked the rider straight in the eyes, and replied, “I’ve been
around these here parts for some time. I reckon I know people pretty good.” The
old-timer continued, “I looked into the eyes of the other riders and
immediately saw there was no concern for my situation. It would have been
useless even to ask them for a ride. But when I looked into your eyes, kindness
and compassion were evident. I knew, then and there, that your gentle spirit
would welcome the opportunity to give me assistance in my time of need.”
Those heartwarming comments touched the
horseman deeply. “I’m most grateful for what you have said,” he told the old
man. “May I never get too busy in my own affairs that I fail to respond to the
needs of others with kindness and compassion.”
With that, Thomas Jefferson, the third
president of the United States of America, turned his horse around and made his
way back to the White House.
The Bible tells us of another Good Samaritan
who helped somebody in need.
One day, a man who was traveling from a far
away city, suddenly met up with a group of thieves. The thieves took everything
he had, and then they beat him and left him lying half dead by the side of the
As he lay there he heard footsteps. “I hope
he will help me!” He waited and listened and then the footsteps went a
different direction. That was a priest who came by, but when he saw the man
lying beside the road, he decided to take a different route because he was in a
hurry and didn’t want to be bothered.
After a little while, he heard footsteps
again. This time it was a Levite, a well-known teacher in the temple. But when
he saw the man lying on the side of the road, he looked down and walked right
by, completely ignoring the poor, hurting man.
It wasn’t long until the man heard another
set of footsteps. The man who was traveling down the road this time was a
stranger from Samaria. As he passed by, he noticed the man who was lying beaten
and bloody on the side of the road. He felt sorry for him and wanted to help.
He got off his donkey and bent down next to the man to get a closer look at the
wounds. Gently, he wrapped bandages around the sores and helped him to his
feet. He carefully put the man on his own donkey, and took him to the nearest
hotel. He stayed with the man overnight and took care of him.
The next morning he had to leave, but he
could not take the man with him. When he paid the bill, he gave the innkeeper
extra money, saying, “Take care of him, feed him, and make sure he has
everything he needs. If he owes you any money after he gets well and leaves,
write it down, and I will pay the bill the next time I come by.”
Jesus tells us to go and do the same. Just
like Thomas Jefferson took time to help somebody in need, you and I need to
take time to help somebody in need.
The story of the Good Samaritan is recorded
in Luke 10:30–37.