Before we get into the parable itself, let’s have a look to see why Jesus told this parable. He must have had a reason. What had happened to give Jesus a reason to tell this parable?
And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
- Who was it that came to Jesus? The text says that it was a lawyer.
- Now a lawyer in those days is not someone that we think today that works to defend people and dealing with the countries laws. No, a lawyer in the days of Christ was someone who was an expert in the Mosaic law. Meaning, this person was a religious person. He worked in the sanctuary or in relation to the sanctuary. He worked for the church.
- And this lawyer now comes to ask Jesus what he needed to do so that he could inherit eternal life. Obviously he was wanting to hear something in regards to the law right? I mean in those days, the Jews focused so much on the law, form and ceremonies and things that they needed to do in order to get to heaven.
- For example, the Pharisee who stood at the street corner boasted about all this works how he paid tithe of everything and how he fasted twice a week. He was so focused on his works!
- Hence, a question like this from the lawyer was not something that would raise eyebrows but rather would cause people to listen more intently.
So how does Jesus reply?
- Luke 10:26
He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
- What does Jesus do? He points the lawyer to the law, the 10 commandments! How happy the lawyer must have been to be asked such a simple question, and especially something just up his alley in regards to his work.
- Luke 10:27-28
27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. 28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
- The lawyer replies by stating that the law tells us to love God and love our neighbour. He summarizes the 10 commandments into the law of love which is exactly what it is.
- Jesus Himself agrees with the lawyer as well. And he tells him that if he does that, he would life – meaning he would inherit eternal life!
- This fact is further corroborated by Jesus’ own words in Matthew.
- Matthew 22:40
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
- Jesus says that all the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments. Love to God and love to man.
This seems like an easy encounter. It seems like the lawyer is a pretty good man. He asked Jesus a question, and in Jesus’ reply and question back to him he had understood that the 10 commandments were more than just 10 laws, but it really summed up the essence of what love was. That was the spirituality of the law that many people miss, even today! But you see, he got it!
So you can imagine that the lawyer was feeling pretty good about himself at this point. And so he dares to ask Jesus one more question.
- Luke 10:29
But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
- The Bible says that he wanted to justify himself one more time. He wanted to make sure that he was on the right path, to probably prove to himself and others around him that he was righteous and was a good man and was on the right path to heaven and eternal life. After all he was a lawyer, a teacher of the law. So he was feeling pretty self-satisfied that he was ready for eternal life. He got the question right. Surely he would be the person that was loving God and loving his neighbour.
- So he asks the question that would cause Jesus to dive into this parable of the good Samaritan.
So now, let’s get into the parable.
- Luke 10:30
And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
- This man who was travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho must have been a Jew.
- Anyways, he falls into the hands of thieves who leave him half dead.
- Who does he represent? He represents all of us on this earth who have been plunged into sin and hurt by the devil. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) and we are all wounded and ready to die!
What happens next though?
- Luke 10:31-32
31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
- There were two people that passed by this man who was half dead.
- First person was a priest. The second was a Levite. However, both of them saw this man and didn’t help him.
- Were they neighbours? Did they love their neighbour? Obviously not, right?
- Not only that, these two people were religious people. The priest worked in the temple, in the sanctuary. He was definitely a religious person.
- How about the Levite? A Levite was called such because they were from the tribe of Levi. And this tribe was the tribe that was picked to work in the sanctuary. But not every Levite was a priest. Some were assigned to take care of the bowls, the furniture, the curtains, and different parts of the sanctuary. However, every priest was from the tribe of Levi.
- Needless to say, both these 2 men that walked by were religious people. They worked in the church!
- And remember, who is the lawyer? He was a teacher of the law. He also worked in the church as well.
- So just because you knew the law, just because you worked in a religious occupation, it didn’t mean you were a true neighbour.
- This was a rebuke to the lawyer. Why? Remember, he was trying to justify himself. He was trying to tell Jesus that he did love God AND man as well!
- But through this parable Jesus is showing him that not everyone who can recite the 10 commandments will inherit eternal life.
However, Jesus continues on with the story. What happens next?
- Luke 10:33-35
33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him. 34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
- So a Samaritan comes along next. And he takes care of this man by bandaging him up, cleaning him, and takes him to an inn where he can recover and promises to pay all the cost to nurse this man to full recovery.
Jesus then turns back to the lawyer and finishes the conversation with him.
- Luke 10:36-37
36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? 37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
- Jesus asks him who was the neighbour to the man that had been left to die from the thieves?
- The interesting thing is in how the lawyer replies. What does he say? He said, “He that showed mercy on him.”
- What is so interesting about that? You see, he could not even bring himself to say that it was the Samaritan that was the neighbour. He couldn’t bring himself to say that someone he hated, someone that was a heathen, was the one that was actually keeping the 10 commandments, the law of love, and that was showing love to his neighbour.
How did the Jews view the Samaritans? How was it that even this lawyer, this man who was meant to love everyone, could have such hatred for the Samaritans?
- John 4:9
Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
- This was the woman that Jesus met at this well in Samaria. And Jesus started up this conversation with her beyond business. It was small talk. And she was surprised. Why? Because the Jews did not have any dealings with Samaritans except to do business. To buy food or other things from each other. Trading together. But apart from that they didn’t mix with each other.
- What’s interesting is that those from Samaria were their close cousins. The only thing is that they had fallen into idolatry and apostasy and they had left the worship of the true God.
- But because of this, and the separation of the kingdoms after the time of king Solomon into Israel (who would later become Samaria) and Judah, they just gradually grew more and more distant from each other.
- An interesting fact. When you study the history of the kings, the northern kingdom of Israel hardly had any good kings, if any! All the good kings were in the southern kingdom, Judah. This is how idolatry crept in and overtook the whole country.
- So the Jews, they really hated the Samaritans. Furthermore, in another text we read this.
- John 8:48
Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?
- You see, they even classified the Samaritans in the same category as someone who was possessed with a devil!
- So this is the reason that the lawyer could not bring himself to even same the Samaritan. The neighbour was simply someone who had shown mercy.
And this is really one of the main points of this story. Our religion can just be all forms. It can be all about just going to church, listening to a sermon, hanging out with a few Christian friends and that’s it. I mean, we may even have memorised the 10 commandments and know that the law is summarised in two points – loving God and loving man.
But the question that we must ask ourselves is this. Are we really loving our neighbour? Are we really showing love to those around us? More than just our family and the friends that we like to hang out with. Do we really have compassion for everyone around us? Or have we become so insular and so focused on ourselves that we have just become selfishly absorbed in our own interests? Our own lives. Our own everything!
It’s one thing to be polite, courteous and kind to everyone that we come across. To the person that is helping with our groceries. Maybe you don’t lash out at them when they take a bit longer to scan all your items. But that’s not what it means to be a loving neighbour according to this parable.
You see, I’m sure the priest and the Levite was very gentle, kind, patient. I’m sure they didn’t think evil thoughts when they looked down at the man who was hurt and bleeding and about to die. But they just moved on quickly and didn’t want to help. They were probably more worried about their own safety and their own convenience and their own lives, rather than taking time to help a person in real need. They knew that if they stopped to help, it wasn’t just offering some water and a bit of bread. That would’ve been easy right? But looking at this man who was about to die, they did some quick calculations in their head. It was going to take some time away from their life. It was going to take some money. It was going to take some sacrifice. It was going to take some adjustment to their schedule. Maybe the priest would have to take some annual leave just to help this guy!
The all-important question to us today is this. What kind of neighbour are you? I want you to consider that in the light of this all too familiar parable that we have just read.
This Samaritan, he put the man on his donkey, he bandaged him up, poured out some oil and wine, and brought him to a nearby inn so he could rest. And guess what? The Samaritan was already paying for the current expense at the hotel. But he went even further. He told the innkeeper to allow this man to stay there until he was better and he would come back and repay everything. Do you know what that is equivalent to? Here’s my credit card, let this man stay here until he is well. I think many of us wouldn’t do that right? And I’m not saying that you should do that today. But I think many of us think of the monetary cost and all that sacrifice… and we back out! It’s too much!
But friends, Jesus is saying, “This is what it really means to love your neighbour.”
However, let’s take a moment to dig a bit deeper. This good Samaritan obviously represents Jesus and the man that is beaten and ready to die represents all of us caught in the web of sin in this world.
- Let’s look at some details.
- Luke 10:33
But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him.
- The Samaritan has compassion on this man.
- Jesus also has compassion on us:
- Hebrew 4:15
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are —yet he did not sin. (NIV)
- Jesus has more than just compassion. He has empathy. He knows what it means to be in our shoes.
But not only that, this good Samaritan poured out oil and wine upon this man ready to die.
- Luke 10:34
And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
What does wine represent?
- Matthew 26:27-29
27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.
- The wine represents the blood of Jesus. It is the cross. It is by the stripes of Jesus, by His sacrifice, are we healed.
- 1 John 1:7
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
How about the oil?
- Zechariah 4:3-6
3 And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof. 4 So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? 5 Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. 6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.
- The oil represents the Holy Spirit. What do we need the Holy Spirit for?
- 1 Peter 1:22
Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
- We need the Spirit of God to obey. And we need the Spirit of God to love one another with a pure heart! You see, God doesn’t want to just heal us and make us pure. He also wants to fill us with His love. Or could I say it a different way? He wants us to be true neighbours to love everyone around us!
Just a few more representations here. In the good Samaritan story, at the inn, he gives the innkeeper something.
- Luke 10:35
And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
- He gives the innkeeper two pence. It was like a down payment for the current expenses and probably for a few more days.
- What is represented by this two pence today? What deposit or down payment has Jesus given to us as a promise that He would return?
- Ephesians 1:13-14
13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
- “Earnest” means down payment. What is the down payment (earnest) of our inheritance? It is the Holy Spirit!
- And then the good Samaritan says, “When I come again, I will repay thee.”
- That’s the Second Coming! It is at the Second Coming that Jesus is coming with His reward. He will repay all that we have spent. And we know that the reward that we get in the future will far outweigh anything that we ourselves will spend or sacrifice for anyone here on this earth.
I want you to notice this really important detail. The good Samaritan passes on his duties from himself to the innkeeper. Do you see that? He is expecting the innkeeper to now be the good Samaritan.
- John 13:34-35
34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Jesus wants all of us to be the good Samaritan today. He’s called each and every one of us to this. And you know what? If we want to be this good Samaritan, if we want to be just like Jesus, we really need to be filled with His love, with His Spirit.
Friends, it’s not enough just to keep the 10 commandments. But how are you impacting the lives of those around you? Are you really just caught up with your own self and own life? Here is a good place to take inventory of our spiritual life. It’s not just about going to church and listening to a sermon. That is a small part of it. But it’s also the other 6 days, in how we live, and in how we serve, and in how we treat others. In how we love our neighbour.
Too often our lives are just all focused on self and our own lives and convenience. And we let troubles get to us to the point that we can’t love our neighbour. Maybe the Levite and priest were rushing for their job and so technically they didn’t want to be a bad Christian by being late for work. It was all about self!
Today, Jesus wants us to take that focus off of ourselves and let us focus on those around us. Let’s ask Him to fill us with His love that we might be the good Samaritan today. Not to love only in word, but also in deed. May God help us to that end!