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THE GOOD SAMARITAN
With the story of The Good Samaritan, Jesus explained to an expert on Jewish Religious Laws that the result of loving God, is, love for one's fellow-man, to the fact that every human being in need is our neighbour and needs to be loved and respected. With the story of The Good Samaritan, Jesus described this love and compassion for others.
Luke 10:25-29 One day an expert on Moses' laws came to test Jesus' orthodoxy by asking him this question: "Teacher, what does a man need to do to live forever in heaven?" Jesus replied, "What does Moses' law say about it?" "It says," he replied, "that you must 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 you must love your neighbor just as much as you love yourself." "Right!" Jesus told him. "Do this and you shall live!" The man wanted to justify (his lack of love for some kinds of people), so he asked, "Which neighbors?"
Jesus had been teaching and a lawyer stood up to test Jesus'
teaching ability and knowledge. The question by the lawyer was a challenge
of Jesus' authority. The lawyer's motive was not pure and his occupation
was one of the official interpreters of The Mosaic Covenantal Law. The
lawyer would have been a student of the first five books of The Old Testament
foremost before the prophets and other relevant books of scripture.
His question revealed he had no understanding of God's grace by thinking he must 'do' to inherit eternal life. Eternal life will never come to an end and is the gift of God. Jesus asked a question in return, being aware the lawyer knew the Law requirements. The Lawyer replied, "Love God" Deuteronomy 6:5 and "Love your neighbour" Leviticus 19:18. If it is feasible at all, the way to eternal life by doing, it is in these two commandments, but it is impossible for mankind to keep. He had the right answer but the wrong interpretation. Jesus talked more about these two laws than any other. The lawyer was surprised not to hear a new idea but from the Scriptures.
Both these passages were required to be repeated twice a day by faithful Jews.
According to the Law the love for God must be sincere, zealous and put before one's own life. God must be served with all that is within a person, and love nothing beside Him. To love God better than one's self and to love one's neighbour is not to wish any ill to anyone, is the Law, but they must have God's grace first and be forgiven. It is impossible for sinful mankind to love God with all their heart and their neighbour as themselves.
The lawyer had available to himself God's Law and therefore must obey and do according to the knowledge he has. It is mankind's duty to read God's Word with understanding and keep safe what is read.
As a lawyer, he belonged to a class of teachers that declared no Gentile was a neighbour. He believed that neighbourly attitudes and concerns belonged within the Jewish race only. The Jews trusted in themselves and in their own righteousness and believed all other people to be unrighteous, therefore critically despising them. The Jewish nation believed that those who were righteous, they alone were one's neighbour. They had elevated hostility towards whom they thought wicked, to the status of a virtue, in fact nullifying their own Mosaic Law.
The lawyer was not fulfilling the twofold commandment in his life and continued with a question to excuse his own mind. The expert in the Law asked Jesus who was his neighbour, to whom he must do good? The lawyer was condemned, he tried to justify himself which led Jesus to speak of an honest Jew who was abused. It is a matter of fact, a true story. The lawyer's basic attitude was wrong but knew that neighbour meant more than the person next door. Jesus quickly demolished any excuse for hating an enemy.
The answer Jesus gave was to the question 'who is my neighbour' and not to 'what must I do to inherit eternal life'.
Luke 10: 30-37 Jesus replied with an illustration."A Jew going on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes and money, and beat him up and left him lying half dead beside the road. "By chance a Jewish priest came along; and when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Jewish Temple-assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but then went on. But a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw him, he felt deep pity. Kneeling beside him the Samaritan soothed his wounds with medicine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his donkey and walked along beside him till they came to an inn, where he nursed him through the night. The next day he handed the innkeeper two twenty-dollar bills and told him to take care of the man. 'If his bill runs higher than that,' he said, 'I'll pay the difference the next time I am here.' "Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the bandits' victim?" The man replied, "The one who showed him some pity." Then Jesus said, "Yes, now go and do the same."
The road from Jerusalem to Jericho ran through dangerous rocky
and desert areas, a trail that was a windy, rocky treacherous pass, with
a descent of three thousand feet in the space of seventeen miles, which
provided places for robbers to attack unsuspecting and defenceless travellers.
The passage was called The Pass of Blood. King Herod's son had at the time,
put off forty thousand building workers from The Temple. Some of these
men became the marauding bandits who were able to surprise the few travellers
by hiding in the sharp turnings in the road. The highway bandits were men
who also consisted of Arabs and disheartened Roman solders. To journey
along that path was unsafe.
The Jewish victim was stripped of his garment, wounded, left half-dead by the bandits and unable to help himself. It was reckless plunder, the thieves left the victim exhausted to perish in the lonely wilderness. The robbers never expected other travellers to come along the unfrequented road.
'By chance' three people happened to go by the spot where the sufferer lay helpless.
The First, a Priest of the Aaronic Priesthood, feared he may become defiled if he touched the injured man. Coming from his priestly world, he was to avoid contact with a possible corpse which would stop him from performing his priestly ceremonies and obligations. The priest thought more of his religious services than a man in desperate need of help. The priest, who like the lawyer knew the requirements of the Law, but passed on the other side.
Next, a Levite, affiliated with the Temple, a servant of worship as well as a helper in the services and Law, was a descendant of Levi but not of Aaron, as was the priest.The Levite belonged to the same family line as the priest, was also an interpreter of the law and knew his responsibility. Both spiritual leaders passed by and treated the wounded fellow man as a problem to avoid. Both were involved in The Temple ministries but revealed they had no compassion. The priest and the Levite neglected their duty. Lack of love and compassion are often easy to justify, but both usually mean action and there is no reason for refusing to help.
It was unusual for a Samaritan to be using that stretch of road
and it very was significant that a foreigner, a half-breed, (both physically
and spiritually) from whom the Jewish nation did not hide their hostility,
was the good neighbour, who practised love that knew no boundaries or limitations.
The Samaritan treated him with care and love. The compassion of the Samaritan
was not idle. The Samaritan did not pass by. He bound up the wound inflicted
upon the unfortunate Jewish traveller, poured oil for his wounds and used
wine as antiseptic. The wounded Jew, too weak to walk was given the Samaritan's
donkey to ride. The Samaritan good neighbour took Him to a place where
he was safe and secure and would be looked after, and gave the owner money
in advance. The money was enough to keep the injured man at the inn for
The Samaritan proved himself to be neighbourly and had shown mercy and great compassion by his actions. The Samaritan's thoughts were not polluted as was the Religious Jews and he was commended because he was the neighbour who responded to the human need. The Samaritan, a half-cast, being half Jewish and half Gentile was hated by the full- blooded Jew was the outcast, but willing to befriend and help the suffering Jew. Oil and wine were usually carried by travellers as a first-aid kit. The lawyer, proud of what he knew, found out he had a lot more to learn as he went through life. Any person in need is the neighbour regardless of race or culture, and the moral of the parable is for all to show mercy, compassion and help others in their time of need.
The neighbour is the 'Good Samaritan' and Jesus said 'Go and do likewise', to be a good, helping and compassionate neighbour to others.
Jesus took the Lawyer's answer and extended it to beyond
loving only Jewish neighbours to include Gentile neighbours. Jesus was
not telling the lawyer that righteousness is the result of work, but love
and obedience to God's will would be a natural result of placing faith
Those who follow God's Word will receive eternal rewards. Instead of limiting the demands of the Law as did the Teachers, Jesus expanded them. The issue was not really determining whose one's neighbour is, but to be a good neighbour to all. The Lawyer thought it was up to others to prove themselves to be a neighbour, Jesus makes it clear that each person has a responsibility. Jesus was not teaching on Salvation, nor that good works will earn eternal life. Jesus pointed to the end of the Law, for it is not a set of rules how to love God and neighbour. It is the attitude of depending on God that results in loving and doing good.
This parable pictures the love and compassion Jesus has for mankind. Like the traveller, mankind is wounded and headed for death, with no way of help, until Jesus came and acted for the salvation of all. Jesus can be seen as the Good Samaritan, the neighbour.
The thieves saw the traveller as a man to be exploited, the
Spiritual Leaders, a problem, the Samaritan, saw a helpless being, the
innkeeper, a customer but Jesus saw them all were worth dying for.
A true neighbour compassionately serves others in need.
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