A lawyer asked Jesus, what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus replies by asking him, “What is written in the Law?” Quoting the law the lawyer answered, “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27 Jesus responded, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” Not being content with Jesus’s answer he asks another question. Who is my neighbor?
Jesus tells him the parable of the good Samaritan. The story is about a traveler who gets robbed, stripped, beaten, and left to die, on the side of the road. His countrymen finding him ignore him. Along comes a Samaritan, he takes it upon himself to bring the injured man to an inn and pays the proprietor to care for his wounds. He promised the proprietor to reimburse him for any extra expense. In this story, Jesus illustrated the one in need is his neighbor.
But wait! Is there more to this story than a Samaritan doing what any decent person would do? A man, traveling from Jerusalem headed to Jericho is ambushed, and left to die. Would it be unreasonable to assume the man is a Jew? When we, you or I tell a story we make assumptions based on our surroundings. For instance, if we tell a story that occurs in the United States we assume the characters are American unless we are told otherwise. Jesus does exactly that in this story, he identifies the Jewish priest, Levi, and Samaritan. The road is in Jerusalem, the three people who come upon the beaten man, are Jews or of Jewish descent. Jesus intentionally identifies the other characters in this story. If we look at it in context Jesus is talking to a Jew in Israel, and the story is specifically about Jews how can we assume the victim is not a Jew?
Why does it matter if the victim is a Jew? Jews would not have anything to do with Samaritans. In the story of the woman at the well, “The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)” John 4:9 Because of her race, the woman at the well is surprised, a Jew would ask anything of her. What she is saying is that the Jews did not consider the Samaritans worthy enough to fetch them water. The racism in this statement is palpable.
The act of compassion becomes more than doing the decent thing. It crosses over racial lines, and it becomes an immense act of love. The despised, hated, marginalized, minimized, disrespected, dehumanized Samaritan is now in a position to gloat over the Jew. However, he put aside all the racism he has experienced and lent aid to the victim. He not only helped the beaten man but He transported him to safety, and then pays the bill, and promises to pay for additional expenses. He is living out Christ’s commandment, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” Matthew 5:44 (KJV)
Yes, we are to lend aid to our neighbor. Don’t stop doing what a straightforward interpretation of this story implies. Keep helping and working with those that need our help, but also attempt to show love to those who are in opposition to us. If the victim in this story is a Jew, the genuine act of love Christ is referring to goes well beyond doing the right thing.
The world is suffering and dying. Science and governments have failed us. We need a Samaritan and His name is Jesus. Share your testimony.