Where Are the Good Samaritans?
Luke 10 contains probably one of the most well-known parables of Jesus, the good Samaritan. A lawyer is testing Jesus and asks what one must do to inherit eternal life? Jesus asks him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” The man answers with “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus tells him that he answered correctly but wanting to justify himself the lawyer then asks “And who is my neighbor?”
It’s then that Jesus gives the parable of the good Samaritan and then at the conclusion asks the question “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” The lawyer responded with “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said “You go, and do likewise.”
While we all recognize that parables are really just that, a parable, we still often times find ourselves dissecting these parables so much we miss the overall point. We could spend hours speculating why the Priest didn’t stop and talk at length about his duties and all the possibilities. We could come up with a similar list of reasons why the Levite didn’t stop and all of his reasoning. We could even spend a great deal of time talking about what sacrifice it took for the Samaritan to stop and help this man.
I think something for us to consider about this parable is that Jesus is really displaying the natural expectations of these characters. Talking to a crowd that was most likely made up of primarily, if not all, Jews I’d suggest that the man who was overtaken by the robbers was probably visualized in their minds as a fellow Jew. Hearing a priest is walking by the natural expectation for that person would be to stop and give aid. The natural expectation for the Levite would be to stop and give aid to a fellow Jew as well. The natural expectation for the Samaritan would be to pass by and yet it is he that stops and lends aid.
We know as children of God we’re engaged in a spiritual warfare (Eph. 6) and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one (1 Jn. 5). We expect to face persecution, to be slandered, spoken evil of, ridiculed, etc. by those of the world. And yet to often we find that same persecution sadly coming not from those of the world but from within the Lord’s body. Paul dealt with the same thing when he admonished those in Galatia telling them that “If you bite and devour one another, watch our that you are not consumed by one another…Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Gal. 6:15, 26) James says “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?...Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. (Jas. 4:1, 11)
Like with the priest and Levite there are natural expectations when it comes to supporting and encouraging fellow Christians and even those of the world as Paul says “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those of the household of faith.” (Gal 6:10) It is difficult and heartbreaking to see and hear of our young people facing the great difficulties at school these days but what’s even more heartbreaking is hearing of those facing that persecution and as the look up at the crowd, however big or small, of their peers that are ridiculing and seeking to embarrass them they see fellow Christians standing against them rather than for them.
I want to encourage everyone, especially our young people, to strengthen, encourage, defend, and support one another and not ask who is my neighbor but rather to whom can I be a neighbor and then go out and prove to be a neighbor.