“And Jesus answering said, A certain man fell among thieves, leaving him half dead. There came down a certain priest and likewise a Levite and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan had compassion on him, bound up his wounds, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And when he departed, he took out two pence, and said unto [the host], ‘Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, I will repay thee.’ Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was [his] neighbour ?” (Luke 10:30-36 abridged)
The story of the “Good Samaritan” is so well known, it has become a term for anyone who does a good deed. However, there is a deeper lesson here than simply being a good neighbor and helping others.
Jesus tells this story in response to a question from “a certain lawyer” who had two questions.
The first was: “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” There is a direct answer to this question in several other places in the Bible such as Acts 16:30-31: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.'”
However, Jesus often does not give a direct answer because He knows the motives and needs of our hearts. He often dealt with the self-righteous, like the Levite and priest or even the above lawyer (student of God’s law).
Jesus’ answer to the question about eternal life was, “What is written in the law?”
To which the lawyer replies, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, strength and mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.”
This is a great answer because it sums up the ideal standard of God’s law. If we could love God and our fellow man perfectly, we would not sin against either. However, God’s law — His perfect standard — shows us that we don’t live up to it. We don’t love God with all our heart nor our neighbor as ourselves.
The lawyer’s second question that precipitated our story was: “But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?'”
I am supposed to love my neighbour — but just who are we talking about here?
The priest and Levite ignoring the one in need was a swipe at the religious leaders of the day. But then comes a Samaritan, and here Jesus hits their prejudice.
The Jews and Samaritans had a mutual hatred for one another. Sadly, racism is not new. Imagine this Jewish lawyer listening to this story, picturing the man in the ditch as a fellow Jew, being passed over by Jewish leaders, now being shown compassion above and beyond, by a Samaritan!
I’m sure he got Jesus’ point. Do you love like that? What if it was a Samaritan in the ditch — would you love him and tend to his needs?
How many times have we looked the other way or passed by on the other side? We don’t love our fellow man as we should, let alone loving God with all our heart. The bottom line is that we are selfish and sinful. That is why we need the Saviour. That is why eternal life is obtained by faith in Jesus Christ and then He helps us to love God and others as we should.