The Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37 is a parable that is often taught to us as children. We use this parable to teach our children to be kind to those who have a need, that any one, no matter their social status, can help and about going the “second mile”. But as we get older The Good Samaritan has changed. It is now the name of a hospital or nursing home where we visit someone that is ill. It is now the name of a law that if we happen to come across someone injured or ill and offer assistance we don’t have to be afraid of being sued (definitions.uslegal.com/g/good-samaritans). Somewhere along the way we have forgotten that this parable applies to us and our everyday lives. Maybe it’s because we think of it as a child’s lesson because it seems so simple, but often the simplest lessons have the most impact on many lives.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan starts with a question asked by a lawyer in Luke 10:25. He asked Jesus how to inherit eternal life because he was trying to tempt Him. Jesus turned the question back to him (a technique I have used with my kids many times because it works) in verse 26 saying “What is written in the law? how readest thou?” This lawyer (one who was skilled in the law) should by all means know what is written in the law. He answered correctly in verse 27, but he still has a question. In verse 29 this lawyer is wanting to justify himself and asks “who is my neighbor?” It seems as if he wanted a list of names that he was to love and be kind to so he could check them off of a list. But Jesus, being the Master Teacher, taught this lawyer a very important lesson; one in which we as adults need to remember.
This is a parable but I’m sure this lawyer and those around travelled and knew the route very well that the certain man was travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho. They could just imagine themselves walking or riding their donkey on that road. This traveler “fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.” (Luke 10:30). This road would have been a good place for thieves to attack. According to Barnes’ commentary on Luke 10:30, “the country was rocky and mountainous, and in some parts scarcely inhabited. It afforded, therefore, among the rocks and fastnesses, a convenient place for highwaymen. This was also a very frequented road. Jericho was a large place, and there was much traveling to Jerusalem.”
As the man laid there half dead by chance a priest saw him and walked by on the other side. A Levite also travelled the road, he saw him and actually looked at him, but then walked by on the other side. One would think the priest or at least the Levite would have been the ones to stop and help the man. They were the first on the scene. They were the ones you would expect to lend a hand of mercy and compassion. But they were too busy, too self-centered, and too uncaring to change their plans and help.
It was the Samaritan that helped. The Samaritans were a group of people that had no dealings with the Jews (cf. John 4:7-9). One would not expect him to help. If he had been living up to the Samaritan standard he would have acted just like the priest and the Levite. Yet, he saw this half dead man as one who needed help. The Samaritan was the only one who stopped and did something; he had compassion. He was being the neighbor whom Jesus was teaching the lawyer about. He was kind to someone whom he never met and under normal circumstances, probably wouldn’t even say hello to him. Yet this Samaritan “went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.” (Luke 10:34) And his compassion did not stop there. The very next verse says he had departed the next day, left some money for the care of this wounded man AND that he would come back to check on him. This Samaritan did way more than anyone would have expected.
This neighborly Samaritan had some wonderful characteristics that we as adults need to remember. He was busy going about his business, but not too busy to help someone. We as women are busy, sometimes REALLY busy. Some days I wake up with a list of things to do that is ten miles long (at least it seems that long). But we need to ask ourselves a few questions. Would I take a few of those things off of my list if it meant I could help someone? Would I be willing to stop my earthly mission (e.x. cleaning and cooking) for a while to help someone find their spiritual mission (Revelation 2:10)? Would I not worry so much about the cleanliness of my house in order to help someone to find a clean heart (Psalm 51:10)? Would I be willing to help someone whom our society or culture looks down upon (James 2)?
This simple parable that started with a simple question can be boiled down to a simple, yet powerful answer. Who is my neighbor that I am to love as myself? Anyone that has a soul!
by Kristina Odom