The Good Samaritan
25 An expert in the Law of Moses stood up and asked Jesus a question to see what he would say. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to have eternal life?”
26Jesus answered, “What is written in the Scriptures? How do you understand them?”
27 The man replied, “The Scriptures say, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind.’ They also say, ‘Love your neighbors as much as you love yourself.’ ”
28 Jesus said, “You have given the right answer. If you do this, you will have eternal life.”
29But the man wanted to show that he knew what he was talking about. So he asked Jesus, “Who are my neighbors?”
As a man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, robbers attacked him and grabbed everything he had. They beat him up and ran off, leaving him half dead.
31A priest happened to be going down the same road. But when he saw the man, he walked by on the other side. 32Later a temple helper came to the same place. But when he saw the man who had been beaten up, he also went by on the other side.
33 A man from Samaria then came traveling along that road. When he saw the man, he felt sorry for him 34and went over to him. He treated his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put him on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35The next morning he gave the innkeeper two silver coins and said, “Please take care of the man. If you spend more than this on him, I will pay you when I return.”
36Then Jesus asked, “Which one of these three people was a real neighbor to the man who was beaten up by robbers?”
37The expert in the Law of Moses answered, “The one who showed pity.”
Jesus said, “Go and do the same!”
Have you ever considered how our actions reflect the condition of our hearts?
The story of the Good Samaritan is one that challenges us. Samaritans were cultural outsiders, as far as the Jews were concerned. They did not worship the God of the Old Testament, and indeed a Samaritan village had recently rejected Jesus (Luke 9:51-53)!
Jesus’ audience would not expect him to portray a Samaritan as the good guy (neither would we!).
But there was something different about this Samaritan … his heart. “When he saw the man, he felt sorry for him” (v 33b). He sees the robbery victim, and this instantly stirs compassion in his heart … even though the man is a Jew, who under normal circumstances, probably would not talk to him. His heart leads him to action: he approaches the wounded man, treats his wounds and takes him to get help (vv 34-35).
Both the priest and Levite saw the man too (vv 31-32). There was no love stirred in their hearts … neither wanted to get involved.
Jesus’ powerful point? We are to love our neighbour as ourselves. Period. No excuses. That also means if we know enough about someone to know they are in distress, then they are our neighbour.
That widens the definition of neighbour considerably, and if we seek further clarification, we may be missing the point. We may also want to check the condition of our hearts.
In using a Samaritan as the good guy, Jesus shows us that even people who do not worship God can be filled with love for their neighbour. How much more should we be?
And the Lord’s final challenge: now that we know what loving our neighbour looks like, do it (v 37).
Dear Heavenly Father, you are compassionate and holy, and you have loved us while we were unlikable. Please help us to extend your love to others, and to be moved by loving hearts to help others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.