A favorite Bible story for children and adults is the parable of the good Samaritan. It is a beautiful story of love and kindness, sorely needed in today’s broken world. Anyone who performs an act of kindness for another we call a Good Samaritan. This parable of the Good Samaritan answered a young lawyer’s question, “Who is my neighbor?” It is not only someone living nearby, but anyone who has a need that we can meet. However, I see another interesting parallel to this story. This self-righteous lawyer’s original question in Luke was, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” The solution is given in this sad but meaningful parable. It is not just an allegory but an offer of salvation for lost sinners. This story is located in Luke 10:30-37.
- The Landscape. A Jewish man was traveling a downhill road from Jerusalem to Jericho. Jerusalem is the most famous city in the Bible. The Temple Mount, Western Wall, and Mount of Olives are outstanding representatives of this city. Here the first church had its beginning, Christians were martyred, and Paul was educated, all in Jerusalem. On the other hand, Jericho was one of the poorest villages in the Holy Land and was captured when the walls collapsed. Later it was destroyed. Only Rahab the harlot and her family were spared because of her act of kindness. Jericho remained in ruins for centuries. The path of life for us is also a downhill one. Humanity began in the lofty heights of full fellowship with God in the Garden of Eden until Satan entered and civilization became corrupted and estranged from God.
- The Lost. The man who went from Jerusalem to Jericho is you and me. He was robbed, beaten, and left half dead by robbers. These thieves represent Satan who deceived Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, robbed them, and us, of our once great privileges as children of the Creator. As a result, sin entered the world and death by sin (Romans 5:14 CEV). Every person from Adam until now is born with a sinful nature, lost, and in need of redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ. This man was only partially alive. Ephesians 2:1 MSG declares that we who once were dead in trespasses and sins, God made alive. Contrary to popular opinion, our world system is not getting any better, but worse. II Timothy 4:3-4 GW says: “A time will come when people will not listen to accurate teachings. Instead, they will follow their own desires and surround themselves with teachers who tell them what they want to hear. People will refuse to listen to the truth and turn to myths.” II Timothy 3:13 TLB adds: “Evil men and false teachers will become worse and worse, deceiving many, they themselves having been deceived by Satan.” The image of this traveler is not pleasant because it mirrors the reality of this world.
- The Law. Pastor John MacArthur explains that the first priest to pass by was not a real person but just a character in the story. Priests represented someone who was expected to know and teach the law and assist others in need. In this parable, the priest only reflected the law and did nothing to address the man’s physical injuries. It was not the law this poor soul needed. He needed physical assistance that demonstrated God’s love. Then a Levite came by. Levites assisted the priests and, like them, were familiar with what the law stated about showing mercy to others. They represented the law, statutes, and ordinances. Levites knew how to treat one’s neighbor, but they never claimed to be ambassadors of mercy. This poor victim needed the very breath of life itself, not rules on how to worship. The Levite passed by on the other side.
- The Lord. Along came a Samaritan. The Jews hated the Samaritans. Samaria was part of the Northern Kingdom and was conquered by Assyria in 722 BC. The citizens eventually mixed with their conquerors and consequently became a type of hybrid Jew but were despised by regular Jews. The Good Samaritan embodied Jesus Christ when He came to the aid of this wounded man. I do not know where we would be if Christ had not come to us, lived among us, and died to save us from sin. With godly compassion, this Samaritan cleansed the victim’s wounds with wine and oil, representing Calvary where Jesus was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5 KJV).
- The Lesson. Our Samaritan did not just administer first-aid; He transported the wounded man safely to an Inn where he was cared for. This wounded individual, safely feeding, resting, looking, and speaking, reminded me of God’s purpose for the ministry of His Church. It is not a country club for worldly pleasure, but a hospital for the spiritually sick! The ministry of God through the Church is to feed the sheep, meet their needs, look for Jesus’ return, and tell others about Him. Someone recapped this victim’s experience like this: “The thieves beat him up, the priest and Levite passed him up, but the Samaritan picked him up. The thieves said: ‘What is yours is ours and we will take it. The priest and Levite reasoned: ‘What is ours is ours, and we will keep it.’ But the Samaritan said: ‘What is Mine is yours and I will share it.’ Go thou and do likewise” (Luke 10:37).
The Good Samaritan is an answer to a lawyer’s question, but it is also a lesson about our hearts. We are not the Good Samaritan. We are the man left beaten on the side of the road. Jesus is the only One good enough for Heaven. We need Him to pick us up, pay our debt, and bring us Home!
Do you know our Good Samaritan?