Why We're Not Always Good Samaritans
Meeting the Good Samaritan
The parable of the Good Samaritan is a parable told by Jesus and is mentioned in only one of the gospels of the New Testament. According to the Gospel of Luke (10:29-37) a traveler (who may or may not be Jewish) is beaten, robbed, and left half dead along the road. First a priest and then a Levite come by, but both avoid the man. Finally, a Samaritan comes by. Samaritans and Jews generally despised each other, but the Samaritan helps the injured man. Jesus is described as telling the parable in response to a question regarding the identity of the "neighbor" which Leviticus 19:18 says should be loved.
The story of the Good Samaritan is told by our Lord. It is meant to be understood in the context of what has already been said in Luke chapter 10. we may remember that in praising the Father, Jesus has just said:
The first part of the story is in answer to the question, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
The second part deals the question, “Who is my neighbor?”
Let us look then at the first question, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” The man who comes to Jesus is a lawyer. He is not the kind of lawyer who goes to court with us for a traffic ticket or to bail someone out of jail. This “lawyer” is an expert in the Old Testament law, in particular, the Law of Moses, which is contained in the first five books of the Bible. We might say that this person is an Old Testament scholar, specializing in the Law of Moses. This term “lawyer” is not used very frequently in the Bible. We find it only in the Gospels, in Luke 10 and Matthew 22:35.
The Second Question
Our lawyer tried to put Jesus on the defensive, to force Him to justify Himself. And now, suddenly and unexpectedly, it is the lawyer who is on the spot. He now feels obligated to justify himself. And he attempts to do this by asking Jesus a second question. Some people never learn! Our text says, “trying to justify himself, he asked, “Who is my neighbor?”
The passage which the lawyer just quoted says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” You’d think this guy would be real uneasy about his ability to do this, but instead he seems more worried about the command to love his neighbor. Why? My theory (which is only theory) is that it is difficult to test one’s love for God. How do you assess one’s attitudes, one’s devotion, one’s meditation, one’s relationship with God? You can’t. But if you want to find some way to measure one’s love for God, you can look at his love for his neighbor. Isn’t that what the Book of James is saying to us (and 1 John too)? James says that a man who professes that he has faith and yet doesn’t show love for his neighbor is a man with a false profession. I find it interesting that the title of one of Chuck Colson’s books is Loving God, but the subject matter of that book is about loving man.
When you read this book, you find that the love men have for God is expressed by their love for their fellow man. I suspect that the reason this lawyer is so uneasy about the command to love his neighbor is because he knows his love for his neighbor is deficient.
At the conclusion of His story Jesus asks the Jewish lawyer a final question: “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” The lawyer really chokes on his words here. He cannot find it in himself to even pronounce the word “Samaritan,” and so he answers, “The one who showed mercy toward him.”
Twice now, Jesus has been asked a question by the lawyer. Twice, Jesus asked the lawyer a question in response. And twice, Jesus then responded to the lawyer’s answer by telling him to “do” that which he had just said. The lawyer asked Jesus what one must do to inherit eternal life.
Jesus would not define the term “neighbor” by doing a Hebrew word study. He defined it by telling a story. And Jesus will not allow the lawyer to deliberate and pass judgment as to whether someone else is our neighbor; He challenges us to ask ourselves whether or not we are good neighbors to those in need.
That is what the truth of God’s Word is for, it is to be rightly understood and then rightly lived. God does not want us to give Him a textbook definition of loving our neighbor; He wants us to demonstrate love for our neighbor in the real world, by showing compassion to one in need, as did the Good Samaritan. Let us beware of intellectualizing the truth. Let us beware of keeping the Word of God in the classroom. And let us live out the grace of God that we have experienced it, if indeed we have experienced it.
Why We're Not Always Good Samaritans Reviewed by Kannuri JOEL on 05:15:00 Rating: