Jesus, the Good Samaritan

An expert in the law asked Jesus “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered his question with the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Could the expert in the law see himself as the one beaten and left half dead? Or might he miss the parallel? I miss it. I don’t like to be the helpless one.

Jesus was accused of being a Samaritan and demon possessed. He didn’t fit in well with the religious right. But in this story, it is the Samaritan who saves the life of the Jew. I would expect the story to be about a Jew saving the life of a Samaritan. Isn’t that the moral of the story? We should reach out in compassion to the outcast and hurting ones.

Not quite. Jesus is the outcast in this story. And the one saved was the expert in the law. He was the one wanting to justify himself who asked “Who is my neighbor?” But wasn’t his real question “What must I do?”

Jesus answer is this: “There is nothing you can do to inherit eternal life! Here you are half dead and helpless! But never fear. I have come by on the same road and I have compassion for you. I will bandage your wounds, apply oil and wine, and take you to a safe place. And I will cover the cost myself.”

Just then an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. He asked, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind. And you must love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus told him, “You have answered correctly. Do this, and you will live.” But the man wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” After careful consideration, Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he fell into the hands of bandits. They stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. By chance, a priest was traveling along that road. When he saw the man, he went by on the other side. Similarly, a Levite came to that place. When he saw the man, he also went by on the other side. But as he was traveling along, a Samaritan came across the man. When the Samaritan saw him, he was moved with compassion. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring 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 and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If you spend more than that, I’ll repay you when I come back.’ “Of these three men, who do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the bandits?” He said, “The one who showed mercy to him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do what he did.” (Luke 10:25-37)

2 thoughts on “Jesus, the Good Samaritan”

  1. I certainly never saw the parallel. So it is likely unless the expert was truly seeking wisdom and cherishing it like treasure that the parallel was never understood.

    It seems there was a barrier to hearing God’s voice here. The expert was trying to “justify himself.” That is not to say that Jesus did not speak. It is simply more difficult to hear while we are busy protecting ourselves.

  2. I think we frequently change the focus of Jesus’ teaching so that it will match what we want to hear. One I have noticed is that the story of the prodigal son, notice what we call it, is almost always taught focusing on the rebellious son or at best the father, but Jesus told the story mostly about the older brother.

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