So I have this friend and long time follower of God Running who told me about an encounter he had the other day. He wants to remain anonymous so I’ll call him John.
The Mysterious ’94 Ford Ranger Pickup
John lives in a hilly part of Portland not far from my neighborhood. The other morning he looked out his window and saw a rough looking ’94 Ford Ranger pickup parked in front of his house. John told me that in his quiet neighborhood it’s unusual for anyone to park in front of his house so he was a little curious about it. Finally someone showed up and opened the door of the pickup so John went outside to see if he needed help.
The owner of the pickup was a young guy in his twenties named Charles. Charles explained that his starter was out, and he had to park on a hill so he could coast down and pop the clutch to start his motor. John shared that he had driven vehicles with that problem more times than he would like to remember. As they talked John learned that while Charles was growing up his mom and dad were mostly gone. He called his dad a sperm donor and his mom a womb donor. He was the oldest of five kids and did his best to serve as the father figure for his younger siblings. He also learned Charles had recently lost his lease on his apartment.
John told me that after listening to Charles for awhile he remembered how Jesus used to ask people what they wanted. I’ve written about this before so immediately I recognized what John was talking about. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked the blind man sitting by the road near Jericho. (Luke 18:38-41) “Do you want to get well?” Jesus asked the invalid at the pool of Bethesda. (John 5:6) “Shall I come to heal him?” Jesus asked the centurion with the paralyzed servant. (Matthew 8:7) (If you’re interested, you can read more in a previous post called The Control Freak and Jesus.)
Anyway, so John says this idea that Jesus would ask people what they wanted, even when it seemed obvious, pops into his head. So he asks his new friend Charles: “What can I do for you?”
John told me, “The guy says, ‘Nothing. I don’t want any help.'”
John was a little surprised by his response and tells him it was nice meeting him, and starts to wrap up their conversation. Then as he turned to leave, he said, “Sure wish there was something I could do for you.”
And at that point Charles asked for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
So John runs into the house and grabs a $50 Shell gas gift card he had laying around and about $100 in cash. He came back out and told Charles he wasn’t going to give him a PB&J but here’s some cash and a gas card.
The Parallel Parable
“Then,” John said to me, “I remembered the parable about the Good Samaritan.”
You know the story.
Jesus had just told a lawyer that the two greatest commandments were to love God with everything you have, and to love your neighbor as yourself. The lawyer, in an effort to make himself look clever, asked a follow up question, “Who is my neighbor?”
So Jesus tells this story about a guy who was beat half to death by robbers and left on the side of the road. And a priest passing by sees him but continues on his way. Then a Levite passes by but he also continues on his way. Finally a Samaritan passes by and sees him. But the Samaritan has compassion on this guy and binds his wounds. Then he takes him to an inn and cares for him. The next day the Samaritan gives the innkeeper some money and tells him to take care of the robbery victim, and, he says, if the guy’s needs exceed the amount of money the Samaritan left, he’ll cover the difference when he returns.
After sharing the parable, Jesus asks, “Which proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”
And then he says,
“You go and do likewise.”
So my friend John tells me this parable popped into his head while he’s talking to Charles. So he tells Charles to take his pickup to a mechanic he knows and John will pay to have the starter repaired and he’ll also pay for some additional repairs that will make Charles’s ’94 Ford Ranger pickup more reliable.
Then Charles offered his hand. But the whole COVID thing is happening. So John told me in that brief moment he remembered how Jesus touched the lepers. So John shook hands with Charles in spite of the social distancing rules. Then he asked Charles if he could pray for him and Charles said yes. So John put his arm around Charles and they prayed together.
Today, even as the Samaritan made arrangements with the innkeeper, John is making arrangements with the mechanic to repair Charles’s pickup.
I so appreciate John sharing his story with me. I was struck by all the connections to Jesus’ teachings.
The way John asked, even as Jesus would ask.
The way John tried to imitate the Samaritan from Jesus’ story.
The way John touched Charles during the pandemic, even as Jesus touched the unclean lepers.
Even the way John wants to remain anonymous, as Jesus would often tell the people he helped to keep it to themselves.
There are all these parallels, and they inspire me.
I hope they’ll inspire you.
In Jesus’ own words:
“You go and do likewise.”
Photo of auto mechanic via Tinker Air Force Base News — labeled for reuse on Google Images
Newly released book by Kurt Bennett, now available on Amazon!
Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus)
Love Like Jesus begins with the story of how after a life of regular church attendance and Bible study, Bennett was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote this book for himself as much as for others.
Love Like Jesus examines a variety of stories, examples, and research, including:
- Specific examples of how Jesus communicated God’s love to others.
- How Jesus demonstrated all five of Gary Chapman’s love languages (and how you can too).
- The story of how Billy Graham extended Christ’s extraordinary love and grace toward a man who misrepresented Jesus to millions.
- How to respond to critics the way Jesus did.
- How to love unlovable people the way Jesus did.
- How to survive a life of loving like Jesus (or how not to become a Christian doormat).
- How Jesus didn’t love everyone the same (and why you shouldn’t either).
- How Jesus guarded his heart by taking care of himself–he even napped–and why you should do the same.
- How Jesus loved his betrayer Judas, even to the very end.
With genuine unfiltered honesty, Love Like Jesus, shows you how to live a life according to God’s definition of success: A life of loving God well, and loving the people around you well too.
A life of loving like Jesus.