30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
The story above is one of the most familiar stories in the Bible. We learn it in Sunday School at an early age. What happens when we get older is that it becomes all too familiar to us. We relegate the reading of the story to Childâ€™s play and its profound truths to elementary study. We, as grieving persons, need to look at it as a fresh and new story. We need to focus in on the Samaritan and the wounds of the man who fell among thieves.
At first glance, this story is one of a man who has had something taken from him. Likewise, we as grieving persons have had something taken from us. Perhaps it is a mother, a father, a brother, sister, husband or wife, or child. Perhaps it is a friend. The meaning of our loss is ill relevant to our study, however, we all can agree that we feel cheated of something. Death has robbed us of our joy. And we are wounded because of that loss. We arenâ€™t complete and whole. A wife who has lost her husband, a mother that has lost a longed for child, a child who has been forced into adulthood by the loss of a parentâ€”-have had part of their lives, their identity taken away from them. It has left a gaping hole in their side.
For a husband to lose a wife or vice versa, it is traumatic. The bible teaches us in the earliest chapters of Genesis that man and woman shall become one flesh in marriageâ€”their spirits are forever intertwined. Death rips that bond apartâ€”and it cannot be repaired. Instead, Jesus desires to be a husband to widows, a father to fatherless, etc. He desires to fit and repair that bond with a deeper love than we ever could experience. This is done through His Spirit.
A closer look at the story of the Good Samaritan shows that the Samaritan bound up his woundsâ€”provided temporary protection for them, and then poured in the medicine of the oil and the wine. Oil and wine in the New Testament symbolize the Holy Spirit. The Good Samaritan is Jesus Christ pouring the Holy Spirit upon wounded humanity.
His Spirit must cleanse our wounds. In burn victims, part of the treatment of those burns involves gently washing away the old dead, burned tissue to reveal new, healthy tissue underneath. While this process is extremely painful to the patient, it actually helps to save his life. Our skin is the only organ whose main function is to protect the body and the softer organs underneath. When it is damaged, it allows for entry of infection.
Grief is a painful process. However, like the burn victims and their painful treatment, the grieving process is a necessary part of our healing. Without it, we would become infected with bitterness, grief itself, and hatred. We would essentially die spiritually and no doubt suffer physically from this infection.
The good news is, as Spirit-filled believers, we have the oil and the wineâ€”the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God to soothe our painful wounds. Many people turn to mind-numbing psychiatric medications and other substances like alcohol and hard, illegal drugs to do what only the Holy Spirit can doâ€”that is soothe our hurting and painful spirits.
Jeffrey K. Johnson is a licensed funeral director/embalmer in Louisiana with over 10 years experience, and is president of Hearts that Heal ministries.