The Good Samaritan
The Good Samaritan
When I think of the Good Samaritan, I think of the parable Jesus told to the lawyer (an expert in religious law)
Luke 10:25-37 ESV – The Most Important Commandment
25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him (Jesus) to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He (Jesus) said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 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.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
What is the motive of the lawyer?
When the lawyer asked how to receive eternal life, he was trying to make Jesus look like a fool. Jesus did not fall for the question. Instead, Jesus answered the question with a question when he replied, “What is written in the law?” The lawyer knew the law and answered, 27“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.” 28 And he (Jesus) said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
Jesus answered his question by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan.
Luke 10:29-37 (Esv) The Parable of the Good Samaritan
29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 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 denari[a] 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.”
After reading the parable we see that the first people introduced are two robbers (example of evil trying to kill, steal and destroy) and we then read about four other people in the parable. The first man mentioned was the victim. He was robbed and stripped bare of his clothing. The man was beaten to within an inch of his life and then left on the side of the road to die.
The second person mentioned was a priest, who had the first opportunity to help the beaten man. The priest saw the man and crossed over to the other side of the road to avoid him. In that day and age, a Jewish priest was a highly recognized and respected man of God and teacher of the laws. Presently, in 2014, we could put Christians (followers of Christ) into that position because if you are a follower of Christ, you are also considered to be a priest.
1 Peter 2:9 (ESV)
9 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
Followers of Christ are a people called by God to fulfill the gospel of Christ and adhere to His teachings which would include the many parables of Christ’s teachings. The priest in the parable walked right by the dying man and did not stop to help him. To avoid and not help a fellow Jew would have been a disgrace to him as a Priest. He would have been breaking the law of loving his neighbour. That is perhaps why he chose not to get close enough to find out that the victim was indeed a Jew. The man was unconscious and did not have clothes which would suggest he was a Jew. Before Christ, a priest was the mediator or spokesman between God and man. He had a huge responsibility. Today, we know that because of Christ we no longer need a priest in that way. We are called to pray and we have a mediator.
1 Timothy 2 (ESV)
Pray for All People – “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man[a] Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.”
The next person mentioned in the parable is a Levite, descendents of Levi and not Aaron. A Levite was not as honoured as a priest. A Levite had responsibilities to take care of the temple and assist the priests. Again, the Levite was someone within the priesthood who held a position of responsibility, yet in the parable he also crossed over to the other side of the road and ignored the man and left him to die.
The fourth person mentioned was a Samaritan; A member of the modern community in the region of Nablus claiming descent from them, adhering to a form of Judaism accepting only its own ancient version of the Pentateuch as Scripture. Footnote
Samaritans were not considered to be pure Jews, but they did follow the law. They separated themselves from the Jews and started a new group of believers. The Jews did not like them. They looked down on them. The Samaritan, while not a full believing Jew, did stop and help the victim.
The Samaritan is a modern day example of how a follower of Christ should respond to someone in need. Many people, if asked, would say that they are Christians. The real mark of a Christian is that they follow Christ Jesus and seek to be like Him and while doing so, also seek to fulfill the gospel of Christ, (what He also taught). The name Christian is actually a Greek word. Anyone can call themselves Christian. In the parable, Jesus, was saying, it is not what you call yourself, but who you really are in Christ.
Let us look at the example of the Samaritan and how he responded. Recognize the characteristics he displayed in helping the victim:
- Samaritan showed compassion and mercy by stopping and caring for the victim.
- He put the beaten man on his donkey and walked him to town for help.
- He took a risk to his own safety by helping the man. The neighbourhood he was in was also dangerous to him.
- He gave up his time and put aside his own needs as to care for the victim.
- The Samaritan sacrificed his own reputation.
- Without hesitation, the Samaritan gave of his own money to help him.
In the parable the lawyer asked Jesus, which of the people acted like a neighbour? (Like he couldn’t figure it out?) In context – a neighbour was someone of the same religion or race. The Samaritan was not a full Jew. That being said, if anyone didn’t meet the qualifications than they were released from the law. Based on the law or in that context, the priest and the Levite did not fulfill the law of Moses whether or not they knew the victim was a Jew. In their case one might conclude that they could use that old excuse, we never knew he was a Jew. Jesus answered the lawyers question and it had nothing to do with the Jewish meaning of ‘neighbour’. Jesus said, “He that showed mercy on him. And Jesus said unto him, Go, and do though likewise.” The Samaritan loved his neighbour by caring for the man. It was that simple.
It is a big challenge to anyone to be like that Samaritan, whether we call ourselves Christians or followers of Christ or if we have no faith at all. The example Jesus was teaching in this parable is not beyond our capabilities. Every one of us, if put into a situation like that, could choose to respond in the same way. Every day we are given opportunities to help others. It could be something as simple as a telephone call to a neighbour. We could start simple, if that is what it takes. Visit a patient at the hospital or someone who is shut in and can’t leave their residence. Visit with a lonely person at a convalescence home and listen to them, pray with them, or make them a bowl of soup. Buy someone a coffee that has to work out in the cold or write a note of encouragement to someone. Make a dinner; give a hug and a smile. Tell someone you love them. Pay for someone’s groceries. Take someone who has no transportation to an appointment. There are so many ways we can be a Good Samaritan.
I’m almost certain that there are many times when many of us try to justify ourselves in the same way the lawyer tried to do. We are afraid of the risk to us. Often, the problem is that we don’t take any risks. We like to be comfortable and safe. “Complacency is like being locked in a can without a can opener. None of the good stuff gets out.” That was my quote. The excuse list is as full as our face book walls. Sometimes it might mean we need to sacrifice our time, money, reputation and safety. Yes, even our safety. All that we have does not belong to us anyway. It all belongs to God. That would include our lives.
AHEAD – Life is full of detours. Sometimes we don’t have a choice and sometimes we do. We might even surprise ourselves by getting off the donkey and helping a stranger in need. We never know what can happen on that detour or how our help could change that person’s life in some way. Sometimes the way of the detour (rarely), but it could mean giving up our life for someone. It may mean, I have to take a stand and do what is right rather than what is safe. I challenge you to ask yourselves these questions which I am asking myself:
- Am I the kind of person who is willing to take a detour to save someone’s life?
- Am I willing to bless someone else with the things God has blessed me with?
- How can I be Christ’s arms reaching out to someone?
- Am I willing to step out of my comfort zone and offer help to those rejected and beaten down?
- Am I willing to help someone even if it costs me financially?
- Am I willing to risk my all?
- Am I willing to be like Jesus?
- Do I turn my head and walk the other way?
- Do I let that person, neighbour or friend succumb to their problem?
- Do I leave the elderly person to sit in her loneliness or sadness?
- What will be the choices I make?
The list could be as full as my face book page. A lot of us look for the loop holes. We behave like that lawyer. I must get off that same comfortable, safe path of life, “Stop being a couch potato. They eventually decay.” Do something different for someone else. Store up my treasure in heaven. By doing these things, I will be loving my neighbour.
To wrap this all together:
1Peter 2:18-22 18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.”
Praise, honour and glory to God forever.
Quote of the day: “The life you live will soon be past, but the things you do for love will last.” Author unknown
Inspired by Sermon Notes
Hope For Today Fellowship
Teaching: Pastor Bryan Vaughn