I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!
Martin Luther King Jr.
To the Mountaintop
Topic: Courage, Integrity, & Purpose
“Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness. One day a man came to Jesus, and he wanted to raise some questions about some vital matters of life. At points he wanted to trick Jesus, and show him that he knew a little more than Jesus knew and throw him off base….
Now that question could have easily ended up in a philosophical and theological debate. But Jesus immediately pulled that question from mid-air, and placed it on a dangerous curve between Jerusalem and Jericho. And he talked about a certain man, who fell among thieves. You remember that a Levite and a priest passed by on the other side. They didn’t stop to help him. And finally a man of another race came by. He got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy. But he got down with him, administered first aid, and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying, this was the good man, this was the great man, because he had the capacity to project the “I” into the “thou,” and to be concerned about his brother….
And so the first question that the priest asked — the first question that the Levite asked was, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”
That’s the question before you tonight. Not, “If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to my job. Not, “If I stop to help the sanitation workers what will happen to all of the hours that I usually spend in my office every day and every week as a pastor?” The question is not, “If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?” The question is, “If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?” That’s the question.
Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation. And I want to thank God, once more, for allowing me to be here with you….
Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land! And so I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!”
Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)
I've Been to the Mountain Top
King, Martin Luther. “‘I've Been to the Mountaintop.’” King Encyclopedia | The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute, The King Institute, Stanford, 3 Apr. 1968, kinginstitute.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/ive-been-mountaintop.
Martin Luther King Jr.
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The passage above is excerpted from Dr. Martin Luther King’s I’ve Been to the Mountain Top speech, delivered April 3, 1968 (King was assassinated the next day)
A passage from Krista Tippett’s interview with Shane Claiborne
“But initially, when we started the [The Simple Way] community, we were just responding to crisis, you know. And then there comes a point, as Dr. Martin Luther King said so well, where we’re called to be the Good Samaritan and lift our neighbor out of the ditch. But after you lift so many people out of the ditch, you start to say, Maybe the whole road to Jericho needs to be transformed.
Everywhere I go, I am so encouraged by the questions that people are asking, especially even within the Evangelical church that’s been so scared of a lot of those questions. Most people my age that I see, even within the Evangelical church, transcend categories of left and right, and really are wanting to know how to create a better world. And they know that the world we’ve been handed is very fragile. They say, we need to figure out how to live differently ourselves and how to live with some imagination and some creativity, and give ourselves to something bigger than just our own little circle of friends.”
–[Krista Tippett [Interview with Shane Claiborne, The Simple Way] (Becoming Wise, Penguin Press, New York, 2016) P. 175]
Passage is from a blog post by Rhett Smith
Shane mentioned King’s idea of “fixing the road to Jericho”, which it seems can be attributed to a conversation between King and Ambassador Andrew Young.
“Ambassador Andrew Young, my personal hero and mentor, the global spokesman for Operation HOPE, and the first lieutenant to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., recounted a conversation that he and Dr. King had on this very topic. Dr. and Mrs. Coretta Scott King had just returned from Israel, and predictably people began talking about the Good Samaritan and the Jericho Road, and associating this image with Dr. King. Dr. King told Andrew Young then, “….Andy, I think the Good Samaritan is a great individual. I of course, like and respect the Good Samaritan….but I don’t want to be a Good Samaritan.” Dr. King continued, “…you see Andy, I am tired of picking up people along the Jericho Road. I am tired of seeing people battered and bruised and bloody, injured and jumped on, along the Jericho Roads of life. This road is dangerous. I don’t want to pick up anyone else, along this Jericho Road; I want to fix… the Jericho Road. I want to pave the Jericho Road, add street lights to the Jericho Road; make the Jericho Road safe (for passage) by everybody….”
–[Martin Luther King, Jr. and Fixing the Road to Jericho – Post by Rhett Smith, January 20, 2008–From a talk given by Shane Claiborne (The Simple Way).]