How can we make the story of the “Good Samaritan” come to life? What could gazing at this painting, by Van Gogh, potentially reveal that is new and undiscovered. Possibly nothing, and yet I do enjoy gazing at the scene and thinking about why he might have chosen this story as his subject. Did it have some special meaning for him? I’m sure…
This is a copy of a Delacroix painting and one that is masterfully executed in its own right, but even so, there is something riveting about Van Gogh’s use of color and his signature swirls of paint. I can imagine him working fervently as he applied the paint with his pallet knife.
We can feel the heaviness of the lame man’s body as the Samaritan heaves him upwards onto his horse who seems to be turning around to question the wisdom of their mission.
If you look closely you can also see the Priest and the Levite as they hurry on down the road into the distance on the left side of the painting.
As soon as I began to read the story again, in Luke the 10th chapter, I was taken back to the “Sunday School” of my childhood.
As a child, it was easy to sympathize with the injured man and celebrate the compassion of the Good Samaritan vs. the merciless Priest and Levite who had no time to get involved.
But as we grow older, we become more aware that things are not so black and white. In time, we learn there are people who are capable of doing unspeakable things to harm or take advantage of a situation and so we can struggle with putting this into practice.
Inspired by Van Gogh and challenged by Jesus’s creative genius for surprises that tease our mind into thought, I hope you will try to make this personal.
How can we take this image to heart?
Can you remember a time in your life when you felt naked and robbed?
By that I mean, when did you perhaps feel vulnerable because someone had robbed you of your confidence and self-worth?
Can you remember a time when you felt emotionally or spiritually beaten?
Thankfully most of us can not think of a time when we were physically molested, but I am willing to bet all of us have felt scarred by someone’s thoughtless actions or words.
Can you remember someone who was your Good Samaritan?
Who interrupted their day to pray with you and to sooth your wounded heart with kindness? Perhaps leaving you with words of encouragement so that in time, you were able to get up and go on?
When you think of your “Good Neighbor” I hope you will send them a card or message of thanks this week to let them know how much their actions have meant to you. Let these images inspire you to pass it on:)
This week as we prepare ourselves for the coming of the baby Jesus, remind yourself that God is the ultimate Good Samaritan when he sent us his son. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.
Thanks for reading and listening:))