The Flip Side of the Good Samaritan

I’m old enough to remember hearing a great song on the radio and then rushing out to buy the record album. That hit song was often the title track on the A side of the record, and I would listen repeatedly until I had memorized every lyric and chord. Only after reaching this point of satiety would I flip the record over and play the B side. The B side was typically reserved for songs that were less destined to climb the hit charts, but once in a while I’d find a surprising gem that would join my list of frequently played favorite songs.

A few Sundays ago, as I sat in church and listened to the scripture lesson, I realized that I’ve only understood being a “good” Samaritan from the A side. You can visualize it, can’t you? That familiar parable of a person lying wounded in the street, passed over by so many until one lone soul – a Samaritan- stops to help. That parable is one of my earliest Sunday school memories. It has been on my favorites playlist throughout my life and has become not just a well-loved story, but also a personal directive for how to live.

What about the flip side? Just as every record has an A and B side, so does every story. The B side of being a “good” Samaritan comes to us in the words of Luke, chapter 17 where Christ encounters and cleanses ten lepers. Jesus answers their cries for help and heals them, then he sends them off to be cleansed by the priests. In their joy and excitement, they run to share this news without even thinking about giving thanks – except for one.

“And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.” Luke 17: 15-16.

That one out of ten returned to give thanks for the miracle that would restore his normal life.

Helping others brings me joy so it’s easy for me to have that A side version of the Good Samaritan playing in my head on repeat. These words from Luke, however, make me reflect on the times I’ve also been one of those lepers and cried out to Heaven for help, only to rush right back into life, happy that my prayer has been answered but without truly giving thanks. How many times have I missed the opportunity to replay the message from Luke, the B side, and thank God for His many blessings? As you live in these days replaying the A side of the Good Samaritan parable through your deeds and actions, don’t forget to flip the record and listen to Luke’s message on the B side for the hidden gem that will help us be that one in ten. Only then can we have complete understanding of what it means to be a “good” Samaritan.


Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive me for the times I have cried out to you for help and then, like a selfish child, have forgotten to thank you. Let me start right now by thanking you for all the blessings in my life. There are so many they are too numerous to name! Let this meditation imprint on my heart so that I will always remember to give you the thanks and praise you deserve. Not just in times of trial after answered prayers, but each and every day.   Amen.

Brenda Windischman