Everyone knows this parable, or at least the term “Good Samaritan”. Everyone wants to be the Good Samaritan, claim the title or use it to challenge others to be so. Its just that the characteristic of the good Samaritan is so rare nowadays.
Lets play a game – Before you read the passage, tell me the characteristic that the good Samaritan exhibited that Jesus used as an example for others.
Let’s take a look at
30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
Questions to Consider
Who were the audience?
The primary audience was a lawyer who had asked the “big question”, on how to inherit eternal life. The surrounding audience was of course the disciples and those who followed the Lord at the time, but also scribes that were with the lawyer, along with a local population that had gathered.
When did the Lord give this parable?
Jesus gave this parable in His third year of ministry.
Where did the Lord teach the parable?
Jesus enters into the Judean countryside with His disciples. He has journeyed from Galilee, and will spend approximately 3 months in the area
Why did the Lord give this message?
The Lord was addressed by a lawyer in verse 25, being asked on how to inherit eternal life? Jesus referred to the lawyers understanding of the Old Testament. The lawyer answered by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5. The lawyer recieved commendation from the Lord,
You have answered correctly, do this and you will live
Jesus answer troubled the lawyer, as it was intended to do, I’m sure. The lawyer wanted to blunt the impact of the response. The lawyer pushed on, asking –
And who is my neighbor?
What was the message for the original audience?
For the lawyer who asked the question the message was – Don’t try to wriggle out of your responsibility to others. Not just those who live in your vicinity, or that you rub shoulders with. Exercise mercy to those who are in need.
That, I think is the primary message of this parable. But as I sit here pondering, I would like to suggest an underlying message.
As the lawyer was seeking to justify himself, (in other words to make himself look righteous), Jesus uses the most unrighteous example (at least in a good Jew’s eyes) to straighten him out. The ever existing undercurrent of self righteousness is definitely dealt a blow in this parable, especially when the Lord refers to a priest and a Levite passing the victim by. Even the most religious members of God’s nation are cast as the villians in this parable, with the outcast Samaritan looking like the hero! The difference? Actions, and not belief systems.
What is the message for us today?
Many in this current culture may try to associate the man who was robbed with some who are under oppression today, and this is a valid connection. The Social Justice movement is rampant in our culture and some of the causes need to be addressed, while others are simply foolish, even sinful.
For the believer in todays culture, this parable gives no encouragement to any to join a group or “gang”, an organization or chapter, a church committee or neighborhood society to fight a systemic cultural injustice. No no no
The Lord said to the lawyer “go and DO likewise. He placed responsibility on the individual to perform acts of mercy on the hurt, the weak and the defenseless.
One other thing – Was there any definition of who the robbed man was?
This allows the believer to offer mercy to any soul he finds.
But Carl – what about justice for the one who deserves justice, even a murderous, thieving, cheating, lying, wifebeater? Justice is the purview of the government and it’s officers. Jesus didn’t seem to limit the Christian about who he may provide mercy to. The character of the “wounded man” is not a point of concern for the believer.
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