“Jesus took up the question and said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him, beat him up, and fled, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down that road. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. In the same way, a Levite, when he arrived at the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan on his journey came up to him, and when he saw the man, he had compassion. He went over to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on olive oil and wine. 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. When I come back I’ll reimburse you for whatever extra you spend.’ “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers? ” “The one who showed mercy to him,” he said. Then Jesus told him, “Go and do the same.” Luke 10:30-37
In Luke 10, right before Jesus tells this story or parable (the Good Samaritan), a Religous Lawyer had stood up and asked Jesus a question. As it usually was, the question was probably not asked out of a search for truth, rather to in a effort to entrap Jesus. So the question was, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
To this this Jesus answered, “You’re the expert, how do you interpret. How does the Law reads about this?” The lawyer responds by quoting Duet 6:5 which says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
“Correct”, says Jesus, to which the lawyer responds, possibly smirkishly, but maybe genuinely, “But who’s my neighbor?” Jesus tells this parable or story in answer to that question: A man is traveling to Jericho (a road known to be notoriously dangerous) and he’s jumbed, robbed, beaten, and left for dead. Along comes a priest (the religious lawyer’s pious counterpart, and he, not wanting to dirty himself with the situation, walks on by the hurt man, as does Levite, which was probably what the lawyer was). But a Samaritan saw the man and stopped to help. Now understand this side-note. Hebrews traditionally married not only within their own race, but the super-pious one’s also married within their own clan or “tribe”. The Samaritans where considered “half-breeds” from events dating way back to the kingdom split of 930 bc, by the tribes which remained intact, which this lawyer was a member of. Pure Jews (like the lawyer) HATED Samaritans so much that they would re-route several miles AROUND their state or province to avoid potential contact with on of them. So let’s take another look at Jesus’ story: The lawyer’s trying to entrap Jesus (Whom he hates) with his question and is trying to prove himself to be a “law keeper”, worthy of eternal life. So, Jesus answers him with a question that involves a hurt stranger and a Samaritan, whom the lawyer and the priest would have certainly hated and refused to help. To summarize, Jesus exposed the hatred in heart of the religious man with this question!
So, the Samaritan is the hero in the story! He helps the hurt man, takes him to a safe place, pays the bill for his care and returns to check on him (vss 33-35), all because HIS response to the hurt stranger was one of COMPASSION, not judgement (vs 33). So, Jesus asks the lawyer, “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man?” (Vs 36) To which the lawyer has to answer, “The Samaritan”. Jesus simply says, (in answer to the lawyer’s intial question of “what must I do to inherit eternal life” (vs 25)), you “go and do the same.” (vs 27)
Suprising, the lawyer, who was trying to entrap Jesus finds himself feeling pretty entrapped and wondering about his own spiritual status, which was exactly how Jesus wanted him to feel.
It’s also surprising that often when we go out to minister to society’s outcasts, the homeless, the addicts the jobless and poor, that the folks that we find actually ministering to these people are not from churches, but are people that we as the church, would also look down on for the sin they are involved in! Does that mean we should condone sin? No, Jesus didn’t! It DOES MEAN that we should, as Jesus did, see these broken people with eyes of compassion! Maybe we should pray for God to help us see people as He sees them and break our hearts for the same things that break His! BUT beware–doing this may expose the hatered and prejudices that are in our own hearts!
Think about it!