Luk 10:25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
Luk 10:26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”
Luk 10:27 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.”
Luk 10:28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
Luk 10:29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Luk 10:30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.
Luk 10:31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side.
Luk 10:32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
Luk 10:33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.
Luk 10:34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.
Luk 10:35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’
Luk 10:36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”
Luk 10:37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
The parable of the Good Samaritan is familiar to us but its message is always for today and is a challenge to us.
Jesus was approached by a lawyer whose occupation was to interpret the Law and make additional laws to ensure that the Law was not violated. They were experts at making life miserable with burdens God never intended for his people to carry. He came to Jesus with a perhaps a prideful attitude and wanted Jesus to know that he was a great example of one who kept the Law or possibly he came with a sincere question. The question he posed to Jesus was to find out who Jesus would say was truly his neighbor.
The scribe who asked this question was in earnest. Jesus asked him what was written in the law, and then said, "How do you read?" Strict orthodox Jews wore round their wrists little leather boxes called phylacteries, which contained certain passages of scripture--Exodus 13:1-10; Exodus 13:11-16; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Deuteronomy 11:13-20. "You will love the Lord your God" is from Deuteronomy 6:4 and Deuteronomy 11:13. So Jesus said to the scribe, "Look at the phylactery on your own wrist and it will answer your question." To that the scribes added Leviticus 19:18, which bids a man love his neighbour as himself; but with their passion for definition the Rabbis sought to define who a man's neighbour was; and at their worst and their narrowest they confined the word neighbour to their fellow Jews. For instance, some of them said that it was illegal to help a gentile woman in her sorest time, the time of childbirth, for that would only have been to bring another gentile into the world. So then the scribe's question, "Who is my neighbour?" was genuine. (William Barclay Commentary on Luke)
When we look at the life of the Samaritan we notice several things about his life.
1. He was a Samaritan. The Jews regarded the Samaritans as rebels and they wanted nothing to do with them. They were outcasts who were a mixed breed as they had married outside of the Jewish nations. The strict Jew did not want to have any association with a Gentile and because the Samaritans were a mixture of Jew and Gentile they were rejected. Jesus used the Samaritan as an example to the lawyer which gave even greater impact to his story. The lawyer would be comparing himself to someone he rejected yet in the end would have to come to a conclusion that he could not deny.
2. The Samaritan traveled alone and this was not a safe way to travel on a road that was known for its robberies. The road between Jerusalem and Jericho was called the “The Red or Bloody Way”. It was a road with many twists and turns which made it easy for robbers who hid behind the rocks to quickly jump out and rob people. The Samaritan was not using good judgment to travel alone on this 20 mile road. So as Jesus told the story, those listening were probably making judgments about the Samaritan that reinforced their prejudice against them and labeled this man as careless.
3. The Samaritan made himself available. The Levite and the Priest did not respond to the need. They avoided making themselves available to help the injured man. They were more concerned with violating the Law which forbid them from touching a dead person if they wanted to stay ceremonially clean. The priest would lose his turn of duty at the Temple and would be unclean for 7 days.
4. The Samaritan was a risk taker. When he saw the injured man on the road, he took a risk to help him. The injured man could have been faking his injury so that someone would come to aid him and then the robbers who were part of the plan would jump out and rob the one who came to help. The Levite came a little closer than the Priest but was not willing to do more than just look at the injured man. The lawyer was probably thinking that the Samaritan was acting foolishly by taking the risk but Jesus was emphasizing his courage to reach out to help someone who was injured.
5. The Samaritan had compassion. Maybe he saw himself in the injured man. He could have been in the same situation and would have wanted someone to help him. The word compassion means more than just pity. It is a very strong feeling, a yearning in the heart. It is as though you see something that takes your breath away. It is more than a reaction and has with it the desire to do something to aid the person in trouble.
6. The Samaritan made his resources available to the injured man. His material possessions of cloth, oil, wine and his donkey were readily used to help the man. He used them to bandage the wounds as best he could and transport him to a safe place where he could receive care until he recovered.
7. The Samaritan was generous and trustworthy. He must have developed a relationship with the Inn keeper that he could be trusted to pay whatever additional expenses incurred. He went beyond what was expected of him to provide additional help in his absence.
When Jesus finished telling the story, it was obvious to the Lawyer who the true neighbor was but also what it means to be a neighbor. The applications to our lives should also be obvious.
1. At times we find ourselves facing situations that we did not expect to encounter. We have the opportunity to make a response to come to the aid of a person in need or we can make excuses or justify our lack of involvement.
2. We can choose to make ourselves available to help someone in need. If we are so set on our agenda or schedule we will not give ourselves the option of stopping to help someone. An act of kindness or assistance may only take a moment of our time but if we do not have a mindset that we are available we probably won’t do anything .
3. Involvement usually carries some amount of risk to ourselves. Pulling someone out of a burning house or car is a high risk that few people would be willing to take. In some situations we may risk our health and safety. Intervention is not always and easy task and may result in people opposing what you are doing to help the person in need.
4. When we truly love our neighbor then having compassion toward them in times of need should be a natural reaction and response. Love is an action word not just a feeling. We can measure our love by the type of response we give to situation we encounter. We must be able to put ourselves in the situation the person is confronting and allow ourselves to experience to some degree what they are feeling. If we were in the same situation they are facing how would we want someone to respond to us?
5. A true neighbor will make their resources available to someone in need. We will give what we can to help them and give it immediately. For some people delaying in giving often leads to not giving at all. It is not impulsive giving but spontaneous giving from a generous and compassionate heart. If God is the true owner of everything we have then it should not be difficult to give away what he has given to us when he prompts us to do so. An open hand is better than a closed fist.
6. Another way we can help is by getting people the help they need. Connecting them to other people who are better prepared and skilled in dealing with situations the person confronts is important. Follow up care is a great way to show compassion to others. Checking up with them to see how they are doing is very meaningful to the person we are helping.
Throughout this week of your ministry with us you have seen people in need in many areas of life be it physical, emotional, spiritual. You have responded in love through the ministry you have given to the people and for this we are very grateful.
As you return home I pray that you will continue to reach out to people in need in your community and make yourself available and do what God leads you to do to demonstrate his compassion. We live in a broken world and we have many opportunities to demonstrate the love of God.