Jesus told stories to his disciples on the days leading up to His death and resurrection. He did it to help prepare their hearts for the life-changing event that was about to happen.
“He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.” (Mark 4:34, ESV)
Jesus used these stories to strengthen his relationship with His disciples. As a parent, your capacity to influence and encourage the spiritual direction of your child increases as you journey together, experiencing the same stories that Jesus told his disciples on the way to the cross. Whether it’s at a specific time each day, or tucked into moments as you travel from one place to another, these conversations provide powerful chances to meet God together and experience the stories Jesus told during His season of Lent.
“They said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?’” (Luke 24:32, ESV)
Each parable reveals little signs that are actually memorable signposts, pointing the way home as you prepare to truly celebrate Easter. “It is while traveling through Samaria, going from Galilee to Jerusalem, that Jesus takes time to tell stories that prepare his followers to bring the ordinariness of their lives into conscious awareness and participation in this kingdom life.” (-Eugene Peterson in , pp 15-16)
The Lenten season is the spiritual equivalent of an annual physical exam; it’s a time to check our hearts and lives. Jesus used these parables and stories to reach the heart. The point of Lent is not to give up something external like chocolate or screen time; it’s a strong reminder to give up sin.
“On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ ‘What is written in the Law?’ he replied. ‘How do you read it?’ He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ‘You have answered correctly,’ Jesus replied. ‘Do this and you will live.’ But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’
In reply Jesus said: ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’ The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.’”
While it might not seem like it as first, this parable focuses on joy. Discovering your identity in Christ is what brings real joy. Right before telling them this parable, Jesus told his disciples,
“Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’ Then turning to the disciples he said privately, ‘Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.’” (Luke 10:20-24, ESV)
How does the parable of the Good Samaritan help us discover our identities in Christ?
Identity is not just a matter of knowing what Jesus says, but knowing who we are because of Him. And once we know who we are, we also know what we need to do.
... And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” (Luke 10:37b)
Ask a child: What are some things about you that reveal your identity? What are some things you can say and do that will show others your identity in Christ?
Ask a grownup: “Did God ever turn something bad in your life to good?”
(Hint: in the parable of the Good Samaritan, we see that God can use a bad situation for a good purpose--in this case, to make neighbors out of strangers.)
Make an acrostic of your name. For each letter, write a word that helps explain who you are. Choose one characteristic and work with a grownup to figure out how you can joyfully “go and do” something this week that will help show your identity in Christ to others.
Lord, as I begin to prepare my heart for Easter, help me to focus on you. Help me remember that my identity is in you, and you alone. Help me not to be distracted worrying about what others will think of me, but keep me focused on knowing who I am in you and treating others around me the way you would. Even when it’s a little unexpected, like the Good Samaritan.