A Fresh Look at the Parable of the Good Samaritan

The Parable of the Good Samaritan is so well known that our nation has “Good Samaritan” laws.

To get the best out of this familiar passage, let’s read it slowly, prayerfully, and carefully.

Luke 10.25Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus appears to have been visiting with his disciples in a private meeting. The lawyer wanted to test Jesus’ knowledge of the law.

Eternal life involves going to heaven when we die, but there is more. “Eternal” is a quality of life and not just a quantity of time.

The question was basically, “What must I do to have the best life now and forever?”

Luke 10.26He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?”

Jesus turned the question back on the questioning lawyer.

Luke 20.27He 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.”

The lawyer responded as any person would who knew the Hebrew heritage.

To love God with all our heart is found in a daily recitation of their commitment to God in Deuteronomy 6.4-5.

The love of the neighbor was prescribed in Leviticus 19.18.

Dallas Willard makes an important observation about these two commands.

It should be quite easy to love God. After all, he has all of the attributes that should cause us to be filled with love toward him.

Loving our neighbor is a different matter. The lawyer knew this fact and wanted to limit the scope of love with regard to the neighbor.

Luke 10.28-29And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”

But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

A seminary professor wanted to illustrate the Parable of the Good Samaritan to his students.

He asked three of his best students to preach to the students and faculty in chapel on the topic of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10.30-35).

To preach in chapel is a very high honor. The professor didn’t tell the students that he had given the invitation to two other students.

In addition, he asked an actor to play the role of a homeless man in distress. The man was arranged in such a way that the students had to pass by him on the way to chapel.

Not one of the three students stopped to help the homeless man. They were quite surprised when the homeless man entered the chapel service and preached a message on the Good Samaritan.

The Good Samaritan

The seminary professor captured the attitudes and actions of the two religious men.

They were off on an important task, and couldn’t be bothered by the injured man.

The Samaritan was considered an outcast. Jesus had just attempted to receive hospitality from Samaritans and was turned away.

The Samaritan in the story not only knew what to do, but did right by the injured man.

Luke 10.33-35 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity.

He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’”

Compassion motivated the Samaritan and he gave extraordinary care.

One aspect of the parable that I have previously missed is how the Samaritan spent the night with the injured man. There was not such thing as separate rooms in an inn.

He provided care for the man while in the inn and before he left on his journey.

The Lawyer Put to the Test

The Lawyer came to test Jesus, but ended up being examined himself.

Luke 9.36-37Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”

He said, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Jesus ended his conversation with “Go and do.” That is his message to us, too.

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross and I have spent hours over the last 20 years talking about the Bible. You can join our conversation on YouTube on the Bob Spradling channel.

Please email your prayer request to bsprad49@gmail.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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