Walking in Truth Devotional Update
Jesus and the Parable of the Good Samaritan
We have before us one of the most beloved stories in the New Testament and a passage preached on many times.
The parable told by our Lord is in response to two questions asked by a lawyer (an interpreter and teacher of the Mosaic law) and also referred to as a scribe according to Strong’s Concord.
He asked Jesus, “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? The question is very important because it has to do with salvation. Luke informs us that he asked this all-important question to “test Jesus.” In other words, he wants to see how well Jesus can answer such an important question.
Jesus asked him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” The lawyer replied, “”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.” Jesus said, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” This answer establishes what God has always expected: a heart relationship with Him—and a love relationship with other people. Then the lawyer, wanting to justify himself, asked Jesus the second question, “And who is my neighbor?” Now an expert in the law should have known the law teaches that “they were to have the same law for the alien and the native-born. I am the Lord your God” (Lev. 23:22; Lev. 19:34). There were not two laws, one for the Jews (Israel) and one for the Gentiles, or the Samaritans who were the outcasts, and the despised enemies of the Jews.
It is at this point Jesus told the beautiful story of the good Samaritan. Jesus began by saying that a certain man was going down from Jerusalem.” The road down from Jerusalem to Jericho was treacherously winding and was a favorite hideout of robbers and thieves. The only thing Jesus tells us about the victim is that he had fallen among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. The racial victim of the victim did not matter. All that mattered was that he was a human being and was in desperate need of help.
However, Jesus did tell us that two of the travelers were the Priest and the Levite (Jewish people), and the third traveler was a Samaritan. Jesus spent no time describing the priest and simply tells us that he showed no compassion or love for the wounded man and passed by on the other side of the road so as not to get involved. The next person to pass by was a Levite and he did the same thing the Priest did and failed to show love and compassion. Both men would have known the law and that God did not allow for failure to help those in need (cf. the passages above in Lev.), but they refused to obey God and ignored their responsibility to help an injured person.
“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’”
The Jews would never have expected a Samaritan to be the hero in such a situation. Two Jewish leaders, a Priest and a Levite, deliberately ignored the needs of the injured man while the Samaritan proved to be the neighbor to the man in need. Jesus asked the lawyer a final question: So, which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”
The lawyer answered but did not admit that it was a Samaritan. He simply said, “He who showed mercy on him.” To the Jew there was no such thing as “a good Samaritan.” Please understand it wasn’t the Samaritan’s nationality that set him apart from the Priest and Levite, it was his compassion and love for a fellowman.
Surely, we should learn not be afraid to help people and to see each person in need as our neighbor. Jesus was not telling this lawyer that he could get eternal life by obeying this aspect of the law. He was simply reminding him what the law taught, and the law taught that God expects all people to be treated the same as we pointed out from Leviticus. Furthermore, Jesus nailed the Law to His cross (Col. 2:14-17) taking it away and replacing it with His will for man today (James 1:25). But don’t think that love and compassion may be ignored today. Jesus was truly the Good Samaritan because of His love and compassion for mankind.
By Guy Roberson
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