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The Parable of the Good Samaritan Made Simple

(Luke 10:25-37)

A book on Jesus’ parables wouldn’t be complete without a chapter on the parable of the Good Samaritan. If you’ve been to church for many years, you would’ve heard this parable preached.

I hope that you will enjoy some of the fresh revelations from what I have to say in this teaching.

In Luke 10:25, it says “and behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, ‘Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?’”

Obviously this teacher was testing Jesus to see if He had the right answers.

Jesus has answered his question in the succeeding verses and a record of the conversation can be found in verses 26 to 28. “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” and so he answered and said, ‘You shall 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.’ ‘You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.’”

Jesus is saying that in order for one to have eternal life he must love God with all his heart, mind and soul and love his neighbor as himself. He’s saying that you need to properly fulfill the law. Yeah, that’s fine. The problem is that we just can’t possibly do it. We can’t love God with all our mind, heart and soul and strength and love our neighbor the way we love ourselves in our own strength without the Holy Spirit’s enabling.

And I think this guy knew that he was falling short and he was just trying to justify himself. He just wanted to see if he was in right standing according to this new Rabbi. So he wanted Jesus’ interpretation of what it meant.

For the Jews, a “neighbor” is someone who does good things to you. In their tradition and interpretation of the law, if someone was your enemy then you would treat him as an enemy. You know, hit for a hit; a punch for a punch. It was commonly known as the “eye-for-an-eye law”. That was the Old Testament law that they had lived under for thousands of years. So to this lawyer his neighbor was someone who was treating him right and this he wanted Jesus to justify him. So the lawyer asked, “Who is my neighbor?”

“Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among the thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side” (vv. 29-32).

You notice in the passage that both the priest and the Levite saw the beaten up person, looked at him and passed by on the other sides. In other words, they crossed over to the opposite side so that the person wouldn’t groan to them and they’d be obligated to do something. They both saw the person in the desperate condition but found a way to escape having to deal with the situation.

“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion” (v. 33).

Notice the word compassion; compassion is an act of love. If you find compassion in your heart for someone, you find yourself compelled to help them.

So he went to him and bandaged his wound, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denari” (vv. 34-35)

During their time, two denari was equivalent to two days wages. It is about $400 in Australia. The passage went on to say, “and gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I’ll come again, I will repay you.’ So which of these three do you think was a neighbor to him who fell among the thieves”

The lawyer replied, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” (vv. 35-37)

The Jews were called set apart by God. In light of this, it would have been especially hard for the lawyer, being a Jew, to admit that in this particular parable, the one to be considered as a neighbor was the Samaritan. In their culture, the Jews wouldn’t mix with other people; they wouldn’t sit down and have a meal with anyone who wasn’t a Jew. They wouldn’t have anything to do with the Gentiles. And so it was a huge step for a Jew to accept that a Gentile, a Samaritan was his neighbor. Even if this lawyer understood what Jesus said, he would’ve gone away from there without applying the parable

Now, let me just make this practical. How many times have you gone down the street and seen someone beaten off by the side of the road? How many times have you seen someone in a really bad situation? I’ve seen this happen a couple of times - people getting someone into a taxi or an ambulance for having a heart attack. But apart from that in my life, I don’t often see people beaten up by the side of the road in a bad condition that need to go to hospital.

So, how do we apply this parable to our own lives? How is this applicable? What meaning has this parable in our lives?

Well, one application of this is with people having had their hearts broken, people who’ve had financial problems, someone who is mentally ill. There are quite a number of reasons how a person ends up homeless on the streets. Many of them are stuck in addictions to alcohol and drugs. There are all sorts of reasons. Some of these people have been abused and beaten up by life. These are the people that we are called to have compassion on.

In the parable of the sheep and the goats, we were exhorted to take the homeless into our home. But sometimes people have got a family they have to look out for. Some people, after showing love to strangers, have got their assets stolen. There are all sorts of reasons why taking in a homeless person is not practical these days. You need to have a lot of trust in your heart to take a total stranger into your house.

There’s nothing stopping you from going down, meeting a homeless person and buying him a Coke and a hamburger. There’s nothing stopping you from taking him out to a restaurant once a week to have a steak dinner. There’s nothing stopping you from taking him up to a clothing store and buying him clothes. If you were really interested and really cared about a homeless person that you spent enough time with, you could find a way to get him off the streets.

So if you are asking where you find beaten up neighbors, you can consider the homeless people.

Who else? you may ask. Other people may be beaten up emotionally. For instance the girl that you know has been going to bed and having sex with any man. There’s a good chance why she is acting out in that way may be that she was sexually abused by her father or someone in her family. She’s a person who needs care. She needs someone to show her what true love is. She desperately needs true support and understanding. How is she ever gonna learn and break out from that cycle of abuse if someone doesn’t take her aside, help her and show her what true love is? How would she know how a man should treat her? How could she stop abusing herself? . . . She could be your neighbor.

Another neighbor that you can take aside could be the Muslim person down in your local café. Even though he might know you’re a Christian, if you treat him beautifully and show him love, you can win him over to your side. You could buy him gifts or even take this book in, give it to him and say, “I know a person who has written a book and you should have a look at this. I reckon you’d enjoy it. These are the teachings of Jesus, your prophet.”

There are many ways to help your neighbor. There are many people in desperate situations. One thing clear in this parable is that your neighbor isn’t someone of your same religion. He isn’t someone of the same sex. The word “neighbor” isn’t narrowly defined. Your neighbor is anyone in this world who’s going through a hard time. We are called to love anyone. In this parable, Jesus was saying that the Samaritan who helped the beaten up man has proved himself to be a good neighbor.

As a responsible neighbor, we should be full of love, mercy and compassion to everyone. I have identified the word “compassion” as the keyword in this teaching. We should flow with compassion for everyone. No matter what race, culture, sexuality. I know some people are stigmatized more than other people in our society. The gay community is really badly treated by the Christian world and seems not to accept them. God loves the gays and many of them are in search for the truth and would want to become Christians. In fact in our church, we have a few gay people. We need to embrace these people with love, pray for them that the Holy Spirit would minister to them and show them that their lifestyle isn’t true. But we should treat them with love regardless of their sexuality, regardless of what they’re doing, regardless of whether they’re sinning. That’s what the Good Samaritan is all about. In essence, it is about removing yourself, removing your own ideas, removing your own prejudices against people and treating all people equally with love.

Jesus did not only treat the people who are good, honest and truthful. He did not only pay attention to the people who are “holy” and in good standing. Jesus Himself was a friend of the prostitutes, tax collectors and publicans. He was hanging out with them more than he was hanging out with the religious leaders. Most times, the sinners are open and honest about their life because they are suffering and need answers to their questions. Only people who think that they are righteous and holy and have everything together haven’t got ears for the message of Jesus.

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