The Good Samaritan
Updated: Mar 10, 2021
The Good Samaritan - Luke 10:25-37
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”He answered, “‘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, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.
So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.
He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
What do you think about the Priest and the Levite passing the man by?
How are we tempted to do the same with individuals who may be in a similar situation to the beaten man?
What do we think that Jesus is saying with this parable? Why does he tell it?
The Question #1: What must I do to inherit eternal life?
Religious Lawyer: In Israel to be a lawyer meant that you were an expert in God’s law, or the Old Testament.
This man spent his lifetime learning and memorizing the law inside and out. And as he did so, he would daily seek to apply these laws to his daily life.
In order to ensure that he was living the laws as perfectly as humanly possible.
This desire to perfectly keep the law of God is what motivates him to ask Jesus about who is neighbour is in the hopes of fulfilling the law: “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, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Question #2: Who is my neighbour?
The Lawyer wanted to know if there was a way to brand some individuals as neighbours, and others strangers, so that he might realistically love all of his neighbours.
If he could in fact fulfill this way, then he might guarantee himself an earned eternal life.
Second, the Israelite understanding of neighbour was much different than how we understand a neighbour today:
Israelites neighbor is any member of his nation, but not one who is not an Israelite.
Someone who looked the same, talked the same, and believed the same.
The lawyer is looking for a way to earn and deserve the gift of eternal life by living a perfect life.
Characters of our Story
People in the first century, people were identified by their clothing, their language, or their accents. This man could not express any of these identifiable characteristics in his unconscious state.
No one could recognize him as a neighbour - so according the lawyer, no one is called by the law to love him.
He cannot be identified as being a part of any nation, and is therefore, no one’s neighbour.
A holy and religious leader whose job it was to help those in need.
But he sees the man and passes by.
Justifying his decision to pass the beaten man because it is not his responsibility to care for this individual who would not be considered a neighbour.
Levites were priestly assistants: The ‘police of the temple’.
So, this Levite knew the laws, he too knew his priestly expectations.
He could recite what was written in the Law perfectly.
And yet he too saw the man and passed by on the other side.
Why do you think that the Priest and the Levite pass by? Why do we pass by people such as the beaten man today?
Samaritans, to the Jewish audience that Jesus is speaking to, are the Jews’ archenemies. Like Leafs and Bruins fans, like Andy and the Pontiac Bandit, like Batman and the Joker.
The Samaritan ‘saw him’ in the same way as the Priest and Levite, but instead of ‘passing to the other side’, the Samaritan ‘...Had compassion on him, and he went up, bound his wounds and poured on oil and wine.”
This ‘evil enemy’, the Samaritan, had compassion on this nameless, faceless, neighbour-less man.
The Samaritan was not a religious leader, he did not question who this man was, and he did not pass by.
The Samaritan was not prevented by man-made problems or imposed religious structure. He was moved to a generous compassion for a suffering man.
He was not looking to justify his actions, nor was he looking to fulfill a spiritual check-list before the eyes of God.
He was moved by a costly, Christ-like love and compassion which reached beyond the requirements of law.
As we read the story, as we hear about the different characters, who do you most resonate with?
Undeserved, Overwhelming Love
Jesus is saying that being a believing Jew, completing all of the ceremonies and being on the inside of the religious system, does not mean you are going to enter into Heaven and the God’s Kingdom here on Earth.
Regardless of your law-keeping and hard work, you cannot achieve eternal life, you cannot earn God’s grace.
You cannot earn eternal life or salvation.
How have you thought about your thoughts and actions and their impact on your faith or your ability to be a ‘good enough’ Christian to earn God’s love?
Jesus as Our ‘Good Samaritan’
Jesus came to Earth, God in human form, and died on the cross for you.
This death has gifted each of us a promised, never-ending love. One that we cannot find in Earthly things, but only in God.
Jesus not only gave up his clothes, and provisions, but his entire life, so that we could be clothed, bandaged from our brokenness, our sinfulness, our regretful choices. That these wounds would be healed by his never-ending love and forgiveness.
We are given, through Jesus, the gift of grace. The gift of saving from our brokenness through forgiveness of our sins. The gift of everlasting life that only God can give us.
Not because we deserve it, not because we’ve earned it, but because He loves you all so deeply.
And it is from this love that we are moved to compassion and love, not to pass by to the other side, to lavishly love and care for those who society has deemed ‘unlovable’.
Do you want to make Jesus and his love and forgiveness the centre of your life? Do you want to receive this gift of grace and eternal life?