A man was driving down US Highway 84 from Snyder to Sweetwater when his car broke down. At the side of the road, hood up, he was trying to figure out what went wrong. As often happens in this dry but typically friendly part of the world, a car soon stopped. Three guys approached and offered help, but as the man turned to speak, a tire iron bashed his cranium. Then came several swift kicks in the ribs for good measure. They stole his wallet and cell phone and rummaged through his car for anything else of value. And the men sped off, leaving the unconscious man bleeding on the highway.
After a bit, a Methodist pastor approached the scene. Seeing the car pulled over with the hood up, he moved to the left lane to pass. When he glimpsed the man lying on the asphalt, his first instinct, of course, was to stop. But he was late — yet again — for a meeting in Sweetwater. Without thinking about it much, he just kept driving, knowing someone else would come along soon.
And sure enough, a Baptist preacher approached the scene. He, too, moved to the left lane to pass the stranded vehicle, and he also saw the man on the tarmac. But he was running late for a meeting at the Baptist building in Dallas. It was a pastors’ group he’d been part of for a year, and he’d been invited for the first time to give the devotional. Sighing deeply, he just kept driving, knowing someone else would stop to help. And someone did.
A beaten-up, rusting Ford Fiesta approached and slowed down. A black teenager, pulled to a stop with rap music blaring out of rolled down windows — the AC had long ago quit working. The kid climbed out, with dreadlocks and sagging pants. When he saw the unconscious man, he jumped to action, remembering what he’d learned in the free first-aid course at the county clinic. He tied his hoodie around the bleeding head and found a first aid kit in the man’s car to treat what he could. Since his cell phone battery was dead, there was nothing for the kid to do but risk moving the poor guy. After pulling him onto the backseat of the Fiesta, he sped toward Rolling Plains Hospital in Sweetwater.
At the emergency room they found no ID or insurance card, since the man’s wallet had been stolen. As they rushed him back for treatment, the teenager explained what had happened. Then he took the gold chain off his neck, the one his mother had given him before she died, laid it on the counter with all his cash, except a bit for gas, and said, “Here, take care of him. This will help with the bill. I’ve got to pick my little brother up at the bus station in Abilene. We’ll stop by our uncle’s and borrow some money to help pay the rest of the bill. See you tomorrow.” And he left for Abilene, running late and concerned his brother would be worried.
And Jesus said, “Which of these do you think was a neighbor?”
* Scripture quotation from Luke 10:36
* Photo by Peter Mizsak on Unsplash