The Worthiness of a Ministry Seen Through the Parable of the Samaritan who acted with mercy

And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?…  But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? Luke 10:25-37

The ministry that someone sustains is the result of a call that God placed in the spirit of the person; the call is not a human response to a divine stimulus, it is God’s choice over someone who, when he agrees, does so not because he exercises his free will but because the sovereignty of God predominates over the person. The prophet Jeremiah recognizes that his call was not his choice but God’s sovereign decision about him,

The ministry that someone sustains is the result of a call that God placed in the spirit of the person; the call is not a human response to a divine stimulus, it is God’s choice over someone who, when he agrees, does so not because he exercises his free will but because the sovereignty of God predominates over the person. The prophet Jeremiah recognizes that his call was not his choice but God’s sovereign decision about him,

O LORD, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, everyone mocketh me. Jeremiah 20:7

The call is given so that God will be glorified through the person, not to exalt the person above the caller,

And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.   1st. Corinthians 1:28-31

The call is not a professional vocation, for there are many who are called to exercise a ministry that does not necessarily accommodate the abilities, character, or personality of the one who exercises it. The call is a divine execution that the person carries out according to the sovereignty and the Word that God has placed on the person,

Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit: Amos 7.14

The parable of the Samaritan who showed mercy in helping to recover the one who had fallen into the hands of thieves is a parable apparently presented to teach about the Mosaic conception of who should be considered as neighbor; however, because of the role he plays within the religious institution of Israel of the questioner, the parable is aimed at showing what it means to serve God in the calling that each one holds; and the reference to the other characters in the parable, the Levite and the priest, confirms this.

The priest in the Law is the connection between the people and God, and his function is to restore man’s deteriorated communion with his Creator. A priest who defines neighbor by his proximity is only a ministry that has not understood what it means to have communion with God.

The prophets presented descriptions of what it meant for man to turn away from his Creator, and presented his condition as that of a wounded and battered man.

Hast thou utterly rejected Judah? hath thy soul lothed Zion? why hast thou smitten us, and there is no healing for us? we looked for peace, and there is no good; and for the time of healing, and behold trouble! Jeremiah 14:19

Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit: yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb. Hosea 9:16

There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the bruit of thee shall clap the hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually? Nahum 3:19

To restore a man’s communion with his Creator is tantamount to healing the wounds of one who is wounded and battered. So, that a priest should meet a wounded man and not help him, is the description of a ministry which has not understood its function on earth, which does not honor its calling.

The presence of the priest in the parable appears to confront those who reduce God’s commandment to a religious definition, and who depend on them to fulfill the detail of the commandments. Neighbor, and by extension, ministry, is not a concept, it is an experience of communion, of communion with God.

The function of the Levite is to serve in the Temple, and they did so from the age of twenty-five until they turned fifty,

And after that went the Levites in to do their service in the tabernacle of the congregation before Aaron, and before his sons: as the LORD had commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so did they unto them. 23And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 24This is it that belongeth unto the Levites: from twenty and five years old and upward they shall go in to wait upon the service of the tabernacle of the congregation: 25And from the age of fifty years they shall cease waiting upon the service thereof, and shall serve no more: 26But shall minister with their brethren in the tabernacle of the congregation, to keep the charge, and shall do no service. Thus shalt thou do unto the Levites touching their charge. Numbers 8:22-26

The requirement of service demanded of them was of such high quality that a failure in their service was tantamount to the most terrible iniquity in their relationship with God. The life of the Levites was a life of service.

But the Levites shall do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they shall bear their iniquity: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they have no inheritance. Numbers 18:23

Twenty-five years of service in which each one had the opportunity to see the manifestation of God in favor of the people. So, one would not think that a Levite would see someone in need and would not offer him help; a Levite who saw a wounded man thrown on the road and who passed by not to help him, is a person accustomed to serve but who has no value or reason for his service. He turned the call into a habit, nothing more.

The presence of the Levite in the parable appears to show that service to God is the result of the experience of knowing God; only he who knows God can serve.

Neighbor is the proof of a person’s knowledge of God. Neighbor is not a responsibility of service, but the opportunity to show others how much we know God. The apostle John put it this way:

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 1st. John 4:20

Ministry is to see needs, and to supply them; it is to awaken compassion for the benefit of others; it is to care; it is to protect; it is to invest in others; it is to restore the condition of need of those who have fallen into disgrace; it is to vindicate those who have been socially marginalized.

The presence of the Samaritan in the parable appears to show that when a person does not act according to God’s righteousness, there will be a Samaritan who will show, with his presence and his way of acting, how arrogantly walks he who holds a ministry of God. The Samaritans were a society despised by the Jews; in the account of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman, she reproaches Jesus for the Jews’ contempt for the Samaritans: How can you, being a Jew, ask me to drink, for I am a Samaritan woman? because the Jews do not deal with the Samaritans.[1]

To have said Jesus to the lawyer, Go, and do the same, was tantamount to saying to him, act as the Samaritan did, which meant an offense and a humiliation; Jesus’ expression to the lawyer was the confrontation with the arrogance with which he walked.

God’s call has a divine dignity, not to emphasize the person above the one who called him, but to establish on earth that operation of God necessary to break the strength of the kingdom of darkness that has bound the inhabitants of its regions.

The parable presents three persons, each a bearer of ministry; two of them with a ministry classified by a title, only one, the Samaritan, with a ministry without a classification; in fact, many would not have considered until today that the Samaritan could be a minister of God. Ministry does not make it a title, it does not make it a diploma, it does not make it an institution; ministry makes it the conviction that we have that we serve God, that He called us, and that what we do we do for Him,

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Colossians 3:23

Why in the parable are the priest and the Levite presented as ministers who defraud God’s call in them?

The ministry, the service to God, cannot be built on the person, even worse, on the fame that the person can raise as God’s minister. The ministry is not the image that the person lifts up on himself, nor on what he does as endowed with a singular power given to him, as if it were an exclusive instrument of God.

Neither the priest nor the Levite could understand to what God called them, they only saw in themselves functions which distinguished them from others, functions of category, functions of rank; any other function apart from their functions in the temple were seen as denigrating and of little esteem. Neither the priest nor the Levite saw a service to God in the help which might have been given to the wounded in the way. They disappointed the call of God deposited in their spirits.

If you have a ministry from God, awaken it, enliven it; do not bind it to a title, do not build a personal image behind it, do not seek to take advantage of it; do not incur the error of the priest and the Levite in the parable.

Of the three ministries that the parable presents, who would you like to be? Go and do the same.

No matter what we do within a community of faith, nothing will be of value if we do not first count on doing it for the purpose that God will be glorified by the service we render to others.

God’s call to the ministry does not consist only in “preaching”, in interpreting, in knowing how to elaborate a good homiletic outline. It is more than a professional discipline. It is surrender; it is devotion, zeal, commitment, responsibility.

All biblical quotations are taken from the King James Version.



Pastor Pedro Montoya

Twitter: @pastormontoya


[1] John 4:9