The Parable Of The Good Samaritan


“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:30-36

The first thing we notice about Jesus’ teaching is that His parables ‘were always spontaneous’. He never had to think about them beforehand and say, “Listen, can you come back next week and I’ll give you the answer.”

Jesus was the best with His spontaneous answers to people’s questions and we should be too.

We should always be truthful with people when they ask us a question. There are times when we need to be honest enough to say, ‘Listen I don’t know the answer to that question right now, but I will get back to you.’

But there are times when we should always have an answer to some questions. Has anyone ever asked you why you are a Christian? Has anyone ever asked you, why you believe in God and go to worship Him?

Now I’m sure all of us can answer ‘Yes’ to those questions. Because as Christians those are the type of questions we should easily be able to answer, even though we don’t know the Scriptures that well, 2 Timothy 4:2 / 1 Peter 3:15.

There’s something else about Jesus’ parables we need to remember. In Luke 10:25 when the law expert asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus swings it back around to him and asks him, “What do you think the Law says?” And he answers in Luke 10:27 “‘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, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.'”

And then the man asked Jesus another question in Luke 10:29 “Who is my neighbour?” And so Jesus went on and told him the parable we call ‘The Good Samaritan’. And I say we call it the ‘good Samaritan’ because never once does Jesus call the Samaritan good.

But itsit then that Jesus asked the man this question in Luke 10:36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

Every parable had a point or a purpose. That’s why the man answered in Luke 10:37 “The one who had mercy on him.”

Parables were told to get the listeners to think for themselves. They were always designed to get a response, a change in attitude or a change in action in those who heard them. And so Jesus gets to the point, and He tells the man, “Go and do likewise.”

Jesus is saying to that man, “Now I know you understand how to get eternal life because you answered the question correctly and I know you understand what I’ve just said to you through this parable but here comes the hard part, go and do it.”

Love all people, have mercy on all people, not just the Priests, not just the Levites but all people. Love even those Samaritan people that you can’t stand to be around.

And notice the Law expert never even mentioned the word ‘Samaritan’. He answers correctly to Jesus’ question but he says, “The one who had mercy on him.”

You see we don’t understand just how much the Jews hated the Samaritans. This guy hated them so much he wouldn’t even use the word ‘Samaritan’, never mind call him a neighbour.

Remember in John 4 when Jesus is speaking to the woman at the well? After the disciples went away to buy some food, it says in John 4:27 “Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

Now, why were the disciples surprised? Well, not just because she was a woman but also because she was a Samaritan woman. Even she was surprised when Jesus, a Jew, was willing to speak to her, a Samaritan.

That’s why she said to Jesus in John 4:9 “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.”

The Jews hated the Samaritans. This man’s answer to Jesus must have hurt his Jewish pride so much that he couldn’t even say the word ‘Samaritan’.

To understand a parable we first need to understand the original text. In other words, what did the parable mean for those who first heard it? Some people have become experts at making every little detail mean something in a parable.

For example, people will say that the priest and the Levite couldn’t help the man because of religious reasons. They will try and find out who the robbers were and who they stood for.

People fail to see the point and we get so tangled up in the text sometimes, trying to get a point from every little detail, we end up missing the main point. We forget to ask the first question, what did it mean to those who were listening?

When Jesus was telling this man this parable, the man wouldn’t listen and then think to himself, who’s the man who was robbed? Who were the robbers? He knew exactly what Jesus was talking about.

The lawman forgot the Law because of traditions. The lawman was just like the Priests and the Levites, they paid lip service to the Law.

They forgot what God said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” Exodus 33:19. Mercy to a Samaritan was the last thing in that Jewish man’s mind.

But by the time Jesus had finished, the lawman knew that Jesus was saying to him, “I don’t want lip service, I don’t want sacrifice.” So what did Jesus really want him to understand?

The parable was about the Jews getting rid of their racist attitude towards the Samaritans, that is, the Gentiles, and instead of treating them as outcasts, getting them to treat everyone justly and with mercy, Matthew 23:23.

It’s about loving your neighbour as you love the Lord and yourself. The Samaritan did exactly what the priest and the Levite should have done.

The Samaritan did what the lawman now needs to go and do. In other words, he needs to practice what he preaches. But my point is this, not all parables can apply to us today but we can still learn many lessons from them.

So now that we understand what the parable meant to that lawman, we can now go on and see what we can learn from it ourselves. The lawman only asked Jesus the question, “Who is my neighbour?” for this reason. “He wanted to justify himself.” Luke 10:29. In other words, he wanted to make himself out to be a blameless and a Law-abiding Jew.

And so what Jesus did in the way of this parable was to get him to look at himself. So that the lawman could see his own sinfulness and see just how far from the Law he really was.

When it comes to justifying ourselves of sin, we have all become experts. And that’s because we all have different standards about the Law or God’s Word.

In other words, we can all give a good reason for not doing something we shouldn’t be doing. Or in the case of the lawman, something he should have done.

Sin isn’t just about the things that you shouldn’t do like gossiping and drunkenness. But sin is also not doing the things that you should be doing, James 2:2-5.

There may be poor people in the world’s eyes but they may be richer in faith than we are. Poor people have as much right into the kingdom of heaven as you and I do. The lawman had to learn to treat all people the same, whether they were a Jew or Samaritan, Jew or Gentile.

Because the Gospel is not just about believing, it’s about doing and if you don’t do for one, which you would do for another, then that is sin in God’s eyes.

It’s all very well preaching and talking about the needy, it’s all very well having our after worship chats about those in need. But if we just talk the talk and don’t walk the walk, we’re sinning, James 2:15-17.

That’s what the priest and the Levite did in the story. They were going somewhere, but so was the Samaritan. The only difference was that the Samaritan stopped to help.

We can stop and help people, we can stop and share the gospel with people because wherever we are going to can wait. We may not be able to stay long with them but you can arrange to catch up with them again later. That’s what the Samaritan did, Luke 10:35.

He didn’t just help the man and then leave him to it, he went back to make sure he was OK. Let’s not make excuses for not helping people and try to justify ourselves. Let’s practice what we preach because we love our Lord and show our neighbours how much we love them.

The real question the lawman should have asked Jesus was, “Master, how do I love my neighbour?” But he didn’t ask that, he asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbour?”

And we should be asking the question that the lawman should have asked. Jesus, how do we love our neighbours? We love our neighbours by helping our neighbours with the love the Lord has shown us, Galatians 5:6.

The parables of Christ separated those who wanted to know the truth and those who didn’t want to know the truth. And the truth is this if you turn to God and believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.

If you confess Jesus as Lord of your life and are baptised for the forgiveness of your sins then you will receive God’s promised Holy Spirit to dwell within you.

The Holy Spirit acts as a deposit, guaranteeing your entry into heaven if you remain faithful to Him and His word.

He’s not looking for perfection because none of us are perfect but He is looking for faithfulness. And I hope and pray that you will ask someone today.