The Good Samaritan

“Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. “And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. “Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. “But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. “On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.” (Luke 10:30-37)

The Parable of the Good Samaritan is possibly the most well know of all the Parables that Jesus told. Hospitals have been named after the Good Samaritan. In West Palm Beach, Florida there is the Good Samaritan Medical Center. Many states have Good Samaritan laws to protect those who would stop and render aid to an injured person as Florida does.

Biblical commentators have viewed the meaning of the Parable as the traveler who left the heavenly city (Jerusalem) to go to the worldly city. (Jericho) The robbers along the way represent the Devil and sin who left the traveler dying in his sin. The priest and the Levite refer to the law and its sacrifices which were unable to help. The Good Samaritan is Jesus who is the only one who could help the traveler. The Good Samaritan gives the traveler wine to drink which is the blood of Christ and anoints the traveler with oil which is the Holy Spirit. The Inn is the Church and the inn-keeper is representative of the Apostles. The two coins that the Good Samaritan left represents the baptism and the Lord’s Supper. This is a very interesting interpretation but there is a greater lesson that we can learn from this Parable.

To better understand this Parable let us look to the conversation Jesus was having with a lawyer just before His telling of this Parable. Jesus was having a conversation with the seventy who He had sent out to evangelize and now they had returned. Jesus was blessing them and telling them He had been given “authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you.” (Luke 10:19)

Overhearing this exchange between Jesus and the seventy a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25) The test may have been just to gauge the faithfulness of Jesus to the law. The lawyer’s intent was most likely to trick Jesus, as the lawyer stood up to draw attention to himself. Later he sought to justify himself with another question. His question was similar to the question that the Rich Young Ruler asked of Jesus. “A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18)

Jesus showed His confidence in the law by pointing the layer back to the law with a question about the law. “And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” (Luke 10:26) It was in the same manner that Jesus responded to the Rich Young Ruler when He stated. “You know the commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.” (Luke 18:20) In this time the Law of Moses was still in effect and Jesus came to fulfill the law not to replace or subtract from it. “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-19)

The lawyer answered by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. “And he answered, “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) Jesus later stated in the Gospel of Matthew that the whole law was based upon these two Laws. (Matthew 22:34-40) Those living while the law was in force could be saved by their belief in God’s Word.

The lawyer persisted and wanting to justify himself asked another question. “But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Luke 10:29) In that day the Jewish people would not associate with the Samaritans and possibly the lawyer was trying to trick Jesus into saying that a Samaritan was his neighbor. “Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)” (John 4:9

Jesus answered the question by telling the Parable of the Good Samaritan. A man is traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho a distance of about twenty miles. Along the way he is attracted by some robbers and beaten and robbed. This stretch of road was known as “The Way of Blood” because of the many robberies.

Two pass by and do nothing to help him. One passer was a priest and the other a Levite. These two were the religious leaders of the day and were the elite among the Jewish people. A third man, a Samaritan, comes by and has compassion for the injured man. Even through this Samaritan was despised by the Jews still he shows concern for the man who has been robbed.

The Samaritan applies first aid by binding his wounds and pouring oil and wine on him. He then places the man on his own animal and takes him to the inn. He pays for the mans keep by giving the innkeeper 2 denarii to provide for his care. The Samaritan also tells the innkeeper that he will pay on return any further money that is needed.

Jesus then asked the lawyer which of these three men proved to be a neighbor. “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” The lawyer had to give the obvious answer. “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Jesus answered the lawyer “Go and do the same.” We see that Jesus turned the question of the lawyer to a question for the lawyer. This then makes the point of the law to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

We can glean some lessons from this Parable. Our neighbor is the one in need that we can help. Some think that neighbors are the people that we share affinities with. People of the same race, nationality, or religion. Others see a neighbor as anyone who is not an enemy. Jesus had put these thoughts to rest by using a Samaritan in His Parable. The Samaritans were of a different race, a different nationality, and a different religion. They were people that the Jews had animosity towards. “And He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him. But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:52-53) The Jews considered the Samaritans as enemies but here a Samaritan was helping a Jew.

So it is for us as Christians, followers of Jesus, that we too should love our neighbor no matter how much a stranger he is to us. “Contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.” (Romans 12:13) “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” (Galatians 6:10) Our neighbor then is anyone in need who we can offer help to.

This is the love that God has shown towards us, has given us, and expects us to show towards others. By doing so we show that we are followers of Jesus and walking in His love. “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant February 9, 2017

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