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The Good Samaritan

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What is the true meaning of this parable

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The Good Samaritan

This is probably one of the most well known and wellloved parables of Jesus.
It is also one of the most misunderstood parables of Jesus.
Tonight we will take a guided tour of this parable.
I hope to prove to you from the Scriptures what Jesus was trying to get across to His original audience and by extention to us today in telling this great story.

What this parable is not...

It is not a fable. Like Aesops fables. This is not a biblical story akin to the tortoise and the hare.
The story is realistic. It takes place in real places with real people. The Sammaritans are real and still exist today. The road to Jericho from Jerusalem is still around and I've travelled on it. Didn't walk it though. Used a bus :D And it is rather desolate in the Judean wilderness.
The story is not an allegory. Each character does not have a meaning. The good samaritan is not Jesus. The oil and wine are not the sacrements of the church. The Inn is not the Church. The two coins are not the New and Old Testaments. Many early church fathers interpreted the parables this way and while many of them got things very right, on this one they got it wrong. So lets see how we can get it right!

Read the Parable

Lets read the parable.

A man wwas 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 xpriest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise xa Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a ySamaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and zbound up his wounds, pouring on zoil 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 adenarii3 and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.

(Hand out paper)
Please write one or two sentences. What is the parable about? What is the real truth that Jesus is trying to convey?
Eg. Jesus was teaching the disciples how to fry burgers.
Or. Jesus wanted to instill in his listeners the importance of having your own donkey.
(Give a minute or two for writing. Then collect. Read out some of the answers)
Good answers but they illustrate my point. People misunderstand the parable.
This is what the Bakers Exegetical Commentary says
The passage’s themes are ethical and practical. At the heart of believing in God is loving him and one’s neighbor. In fact, life is found in loving God and one’s neighbor. One should be a neighbor by showing compassion to anyone in need. Being a neighbor does not make distinctions in offering care. Compassion may involve time and sacrifice. The issue is not to define who the neighbor is or to seek to do the minimum one can do. This is a simply a call to be a neighbor
Except they are dead wrong as we will see. There is SOME truth in the statement, but this is NOT why Jesus told the parable.
Lets look at the parable story itself.

The Parable

Jerusalem to Jericho

Jericho is close to the Dead Sea (16 kms north) and below sea level. Jerusalem is in the hill country. The route is quite steep and dangerous. No settlements or towns on the way. Lots of caves and hideouts. Its alot safer today, physically but if you are Jewish not so much. Today Jericho is in a Palestinian territory and Israelis are forbidden from entering. Big red signs. Blind Barimaeus was healed there. And Zacchaeus was from there. Herod beautified the city. So it was not unusual for peopel to travel there.

Highway Robbery

So the poor man is attacked robbed and stripped. Not even the shirt on his back. They beat him so he was bloody and bruised. A priest walks by. A priest is close to God one would think. He would have compassion. But no. he passes on the other side of the road. Then a Levite. A servant in the Temple. Maybe he will help. Still no. He comes and takes a look and then moves on. Probably quickly. Remember this is wilderness. Desert area. If night comes this half dead man will probalby die of exposure. Priest don't care. Levite don't care.

The Samaritan

So next we meet the Samaritan. We all know what the Jews thought of Samaritans. But why? Some dispute as to where they came from but they seem to be descendants of Israelites who were left behind after the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom. They had their own subset of Jewish beliefs and their own temple. They allowed their temple to be dedicated to Zeus by the Greeks, unlike the Jews and their temple was actually desroyed by the Jews in the intertestimental period. In 6 AD some Samaritans desecrated the Temple with human bones during Passover. So one can imagine at the time of Jesus relations were not at their best. Now we have this parable where the roles are reversed. The bad guys are the Jews. In fact they are the colleagues of the man who started all this. The good guy is the Samaritan whom the Jews will travel the long way round to avoid going through their territory.

The Samaritans Conduct

He had compassion. Everything he gave the man came from his own provisions. No first aid kits in those days. So the cloth he used for bandages came from his own clothes. Like in the movies when someone gets hurt and the person helping starts tearing up their own shirt to bind the wound. John MacAthur tell us that the words used here imply lavish care. He was not stingy with his things. When he leaves after staying the night with the man he give two days wages to the innkeeper for continued care which equates to betwen 14 days and 2 months stay at the inn. I'd shoot for the lower number because its not just lodging but food and care as well. That's alot. So think about picking up an injured man on the side of the road, take him to some cheap motel, take care of him, give the motel owner 2 weeks board and lodging and then ask for an open tab for the mans care. Think how much that will cost. Would you do that? Your answer is important!

Whats the Point?

So why did Jesus tell this parable? What does the context tell us?

But he, vdesiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied

So Jesus told the parable to show who our neighbour is? Still no.

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.”

Look at how Jesus applies the parable to the lawyer. He makes the lawyer admit that the hated Samaritan was the good guy in the story and the true neighbor. Then look at what He says. "Go and do likewise" If Jesus was just answering the lawyers question about who is my neighbor why tell him to go do likewise? Have any of us cared that lavishly for someone? Other than ourselves or close family members? So is Jesus really telling us to do that for everyone? Good luck! You'll be bankcrupt within a month.
Fortunately the context helps us again. v29 says "But wanting to justify himself..." why would he want to justify himself?
Luke 10:26–28 ESV
He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 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.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
Remeber this guy is a lawyer. Not like our lawyers today but the same type of mindset. He is looking for a loophole so he can say that he definitely keeps the second part. He loves his neighbor as himself. Depending on the definition of "is". I mean neighbor. Why does Jesus say "do this and you will live". Sort of like "go and DO likewise"

Here's the Point

Luke 10:25 ESV
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
The pericope starts with this lawyer standing up and posing a question to Jesus. The Bible says "BEHOLD" This is a marker saying to the reader, pay attention to what follows. Its important.
The last thing Luke records for us before this is the reaction of Jesus to the return of the seventy two He sent out to preach the gospel. He prays:
Luke 10:21–24 ESV
In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”
So I think Luke is trying to contrast the disciples (little children) with the lawyer (wise and understanding). So BEHOLD!

Eternal Life

So the lawyer wants to know how to get eternal life. Well repeat this prayer after me and belive it and you'll have eternal life. No. Jesus asks him about law. If anything the lawyer would know the law and he proves that he does. Jesus commends him for his correct answer. So this is what the LAW demands. And Jesus tells him, do ALL the law demands and you will have eternal life. WOW! Easy hey?
So the lawyer thinks, do I qualify? Well I have the love God bit down, but what about my neighbor. Well I certainly don't like Jesus too much. I wonder if there's some wiggle room here. Hey Jesus. Who's my neighbor? You?
No. Everyone. Even the hated Samaritans. So when Jesus says to him "Go and do likewise" He is telling him THAT is how you love your neighbor as yourself. Which is what you must do to gain eternal life.


The pericope ends there. The lawyer moves on. No repentance. No eternal life. In contrast with the disciples who have eternal life. Without loving their neighbor exactly like the good Samaritan did. When they needed food for the 5000+ they came to Jesus for a handout.
So why did Jesus tell teh parable. He wanted the lawyer and those around him to do some math. To get eternal life I must obey the law THAT much. I can't do that . Don't have the money. Or the time. In other words eternal life is beyond me. Ok Jesus if I can't have eternal life by keeping the law how do I get it? Now that is the right question.
John 6:67–69 ESV
So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
So I hope I have proven to your satisfaction from the text of Scripture what the real truth of this parable is.
Can you take from this parable the truth that we should love our neighbor and give sacrificially to help them. Sure. As long as you don't miss the main point. Only Jesus has the words that bring eternal life. So if you want it, run to Him every day!
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