Updated: Dec 14, 2021
What does the term really imply?
Can we talk about the "Good Samaritan?" Today, the term "Good Samaritan" describes a stranger who comes along to help and does a good deed. However, the story is so much more profound. The term Samaritan is so much more.
Jesus tells the parable (beginning in Luke 10:24) because as he's preaching, he keeps getting tested by the priest and leaders who know the law of Moses. They have been taught scripture since birth. They wore tassels on their cloaks and boxes on their heads to remind them of the word.
One man, who was raised to know the law, to live by it as if it were the air he breathed, asked Jesus, "What must I do to get into Heaven?"
The man knew the answer. So was his question to mock Jesus? Scripture says that the man was trying to trap Jesus in his own teachings. But he may have been looking for approval with his peers around.
Jesus returned the question with a question, "What does the law say?"
The man answers confidently, "Love the Lord God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your soul, and to love your neighbor as yourself."
Jesus confirms he is correct and encourages the man to do these things, but the man is not done. He is not satisfied. He goes a little further and asks, "Who is my neighbor?"
Again, is the man seeking recognition? Does he want Jesus to say, "Dude. Don't worry. You're in. You've lived the life." Does he want Jesus to actually hand him the non-transferable golden ticket with his name on it, signed by the Son of God for reassurance? That would be nice.
Yet, Jesus decides to tell a story to make a clear point. The main character of his story is a merchant. A commoner. A middle-class man. Someone who the man with the inquiring mind would only remember the name of if the goods sold were important enough. In the merchant's travels, he is robbed, beaten, and probably horse/donkey-jacked. He is left on the side of the road and left for dead. A common occurrence among poor unfortunate souls.
The merchant is passed by twice. Once by a priest and again by a Levite. These are men who know the law to the letter. Taking the time to help the man dying on the ground would be inconvenient, a burden. They had important business; otherwise, they wouldn't be traveling. Besides, there were cleansing ceremonies they would have to go through. That could get people talking behind their backs.
The one who stopped was a Samaritan. An outcast. A half-breed. Half Jew and Half Gentile (everyone not Jewish). They were ignored, and every "Good Jew" would go the extra many miles to avoid going through Samaria. They were the epitome of racism. The low of the low. Yet, one took the chance at the risk of their own life (death by being stoned) to help the hurt merchant. The Samaritan took his own clothes and ripped them to make bandages. He placed the merchant on his horse and walked to an Inn. He made certain the merchant was comfortable and paid it forward to have the wounds taken care of until the Samaritan returned from his journeys.
When Jesus finished the story, he asked the man of the law, "Who was the neighbor?" The answer was not Mr. Rogers.
The man who started out testing Jesus was now the one being tested. He mumbled, "The one who had mercy."
To me (my personal opinion and imagination with the story), I wonder if Jesus was pointing out that the man who questioned him was one of the people who passed the wounded man on the road. Like looking at him and saying, "I know what you did last summer." Instead, Jesus says, "Go and do likewise."
Now, ask yourself, who are the Samaritans in your life today? The ones that cause discomfort to think about? The ones we don't know how to help, or it would be too inconvenient, or have the reasoning, "If you give a mouse a cookie..." Who are those who make you cringe when they're near like a natural reaction, the ones you ignore, "look down" on, or would just not have around? They ruin some part of your life somehow. They've made their decisions, and we all know we can't help everyone...
The homeless, the rich, the government, the gang member, the troubled teenager, the exploited person working the street, those who are different in their walk, talk, lifestyle, dress, income, ideas, opinions, bathing... Fill in the blank here. Who are you the Samaritan to? Who are you a neighbor of?
We can help that one person who can start a ripple effect. The one person who can go on and help others or start a fire in us that wants to help more. The one who shows mercy, no matter the cost.
"What does the Lord your God ask of you? Seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8
"For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:12
Suit up and get ready to change the world. You're worth it, and so is everyone you meet.