Like last week’s post on the Parable of the Sower, I’m sure many of you will already know the story of this parable like the back of your hand from Sunday school; to read the parable again, click here or find it in Luke 10:25. The meaning of the parable and the message that Jesus wanted to portray to us, through it, I believe is not the same as what many people believe. We know from what Paul tells us in Galatians 2:16, to inherit eternal life in heaven it is not about our actions, ‘doing what the Law requires’ but about our ‘faith in Jesus Christ’.
It all starts off, with ‘an expert of the law’, who stands up and asks Jesus exactly what we’ve just looked at in Galatians; ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Remember, though, the man asking the question is an ‘expert’ in what obey the law involves and teaches it to others in the Jewish Synagogue. Jesus replies by asking him, ‘What is written in the law?’. Knowing all there is to know about what is written in the law, he answered, ‘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, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Indeed, that is what the law says, ‘do this and you will live.’ This is where we see the true meaning of the parable.
Most followers of Jesus would ask, but who can do this Jesus? But no, ‘he wanted to justify himself…So he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?”’ He thought he could get to heaven by himself; through his actions and abiding by what the law says. But we know from what is stated in Romans 3, ‘that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.’ This is why Jesus came so die for us, he paid the ultimate price, larger than any offering in the Synagogue, ‘so that whoever believes in him, shall not die, but have eternal life.’ Jesus responded with the parable we are looking at today; the parable of the good Samaritan, so that we would properly understand the role of the law.
The story starts, with a man travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho (see map). When he was attacked by robbers, who ‘stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.’ The first person to pass the poor man was a priest, someone very similar to the ‘the expert in the law’ who Jesus was telling this parable to. We are told he passed by on the other side. We believe this is because he is not a good person, not a ‘good Samaritan’, not the sort of person Jesus called us to be. Indeed, that is right, but we must remember that the priest believed he was doing the right thing, passing by on the other side. This is because in Numbers, one of the books of the law, it states the following, ‘whoever touches a human corpse will be unclean for seven days.’ Next came a Levite, who also had connected with the Jewish temple; he too ‘passed by on the other side.’
Finally came the good Samaritan. He may have not been a Jew, but from his thoughts and actions of love and compassion towards the poor man, he kept the essence of the law. We read in verse 35, that he gave the innkeeper two denarii, the equivalent of a whole day’s wages in those times. We know this, as Paul tells us in Galatians that ‘the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself”.
The lesson I believe Jesus wanted to teach to us through this parable is that we cannot do everything the law asks of us, and as such we need a saviour; Jesus.
If you have enjoyed this post on the parable of the good Samaritan, then I recommend you click here, to read the other posts in this series on the parables of Jesus. Furthermore, if you have any views or thoughts you would like to share relating to this parables, then I’d love to hear them, just enter them in the comment section below. Finally, hit the like button if you would like to see more posts like this one and follow the blog to receive our twice weekly posts.