The Story of The Good Samaritan
September 8 - Nº 251 Luke 10:25-37
Jesus continued to teach in and around Jerusalem. One day a man who was an expert in religious law stood up and asked him a tough question. “Teacher,” he inquired, “How can I earn the right to have eternal life?” Jesus answered, “Go ahead and tell me what you have learned from the Law.” The man replied, “Well, it says, ‘You should love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul, your strength, and your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.’” “That’s exactly right,” Jesus said. “If you go and do just that, you will have eternal life.” But the man realized that this was impossible. So, he decided to see if Jesus could narrow it down a little. “Who qualifies as my neighbor?” he asked. Jesus shared this story: “A man was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. Some robbers grabbed him and beat him until he was almost dead. They took everything he had and left him on the side of the road. A priest happened to be going the same way, but when he saw the dying man, he crossed over and passed by on the other side. Then a Levite (one of the priests who served in the Temple) came to the same place. He, too, moved to the other side of the path and ignored the injured man. A third man came along, but he was a Samaritan. When he saw the man, he took pity on him. He stopped to help him. He cleaned his wounds, using his own oil and wine, then he bandaged them. He lifted the man onto his donkey and took him to an inn. That night, he stayed at the inn with the man and continued to nurse him. The next day, the Samaritan gave the innkeeper some money and instructed him to take care of the man. ‘If it costs more, I’ll pay you when I come back,’ he said.” Jesus paused and asked, “Which one of these three people do you think was a ‘neighbor’ to the man who had been robbed and beaten?” The lawyer replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus nodded, “That’s the example I want you to follow!” Although this was a gentle dialogue, Jesus had just made the criteria even harder for this Jewish religious leader to inherit eternal life. Not only did he need to love God with all his heart, soul, strength, and mind—he had to be willing to love the Samaritans as much as he loved himself! Notice: the neighbor in this story was not the man who was beaten and left for dead. As the lawyer pointed out, the neighbor was the Samaritan who had mercy on the hurting man. But the Jews hated the Samaritans both racially and religiously (see #221 - Jesus Meets a Woman at a Well). The lawyer had just trapped himself. He had summarized the law by saying that anyone who wanted eternal life had to love their neighbors as much as they loved themselves. Then Jesus forced him to admit that a Samaritan could be his neighbor. Jesus was teaching the lawyer that titles and identity don’t matter. His question should not have been, “Who qualifies to be my neighbor?” It should have been, “Do I qualify to be a neighbor?”
Are you willing to accept and love others regardless of who they are or where they come from?
The merciful Samaritan did not establish a hospital for injured pilgrims, but he did help the one God placed in his path. God wants us to stop what we are doing and help when we notice someone is hurting!