Saturday, 21 May 2022

The Parable Of The Good Samaritan

The Parable Of The Good Samaritan

(A Teaching On Sacrifical Love)

Luke 10:25-37

“And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbour as yourself.'”

And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”
But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?”
Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.
But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion.

So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’

So which of these three do you think was neighbour to him who fell among the thieves?”
And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.””

"Oh what a wrenching parable, a story to inspire!
Displays of sacrificial love to which we may aspire!
For here we see a soul in need, a human in despair,
Though many had the chance to help, just one would meet him there.

Not the men of prominence or moral obligation,
A hero quite unlikely is the star on this occasion!
Rescue comes from one you wouldn’t think would show compassion,
The man you’d least expect to care shows us love in action!

Prejudice was set aside as boundaries were broken.
Mercy tore down culture’s walls as gates of love burst open!
With unconditional kindness and grace to be admired,
We see the Good Samaritan who gave the help required.

This parable from Jesus makes a point that’s clear to see;
My “neighbour” is the one in need who’s right in front of me!
How easy is the task to love my family and friends,
But is this where my goodwill stops and where my favour ends?

May I show the heart of God, let nothing blur my vision.
Let me love as Jesus loves, let nothing stop this mission!
Extending grace to everyone, responding to His call,
May I use my life for Christ and show His love to all!"

Matthew 5:43-47
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?”

Romans 12:19-21
“Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.  Therefore
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Matthew 22:39
“You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”

Points For Reflection And Insight
It seems there is a common thought in the secular world which is, “In order to love others we must first learn to love ourselves.” As much as this may sound very positive and affirming, it’s not actually Biblical.
We don’t need to learn how to love ourselves as we are born already doing this. We all have an innate desire to pursue what we want, have our needs met and look out for our own interests.

When we read in the Bible the command to “love your neighbour as yourself,” this verse doesn’t mean that we must love ourselves before we can love others. It goes on the basis that as human beings, we naturally already have a love for our own life and so in the same way that we take care of ourselves, so too we should seek to take care of others. In the same way that we look out for our own interests, again, so too should we look out for the interests of others.

Jesus makes it clear in the parable of the good samaritan, that to love God means also to love our neighbour. This concept is highlighted again in 1 John 4:20-21 which reads,

“If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.”

After hearing this point being made by Jesus in Luke chapter 10, the Lawyer, who was probably a well-meaning man asking a sincere question, then goes on to ask who a “neighbour” is. The Jews in Jesus’ day did believe that it was right to “love your neighbour” but they also believed that it was their duty before God to “hate your enemy.”
This is why Jesus gives an illustration that defines what makes someone our neighbour in the eyes of the Lord.

First Jesus brings into the picture, two men, one a Priest, the other a Levite and they would have fallen into the category of “religious officials.” Both of them saw their Jewish brother lying in a desperate condition and in need of help but neither offered any assistance, instead choosing to ignore the situation.

Listeners would have expected both of these men to offer help and comfort on account of the positions they held as Priest and Levite. Their inhuman conduct here was a breach of the law and huge failure to show God’s heart of mercy towards those in need.
It seems Jesus was calling out the corruption of the religious leaders in that day but He went on to cause even more shock by saying that the man who did come to help was a Samaritan.

It was a well-known fact that Jews and Samaritans hated each other for racial and religious reasons. Jews were often taught that Samaritans were the “lowest of the low,” so-to-speak and worse than any other Gentile or non-Jewish person. The fact that a Samaritan then comes into the story as a “hero” of sorts would have been extremely challenging for Jesus’ listeners.

Jesus goes on to describe how the Samaritan showed unconditional and sacrificial love to the man in need. The Samaritan didn’t hesitate or wait to be asked, he simply saw the need right in front of him and instantly gave freely of both his time and resources.
It could be said that there are several ways in which the Samaritan actually reflects Jesus.

The Samaritan was an outsider, despised by many. He came after others who had failed to meet the need but also came before it was too late.
The Samaritan arrived with everything that was necessary in order to help, he came right to the afflicted man, gave tender care and also provided for future needs.
This is certainly an interesting picture Jesus is creating here.

For those who were listening to this parable at the time, the thinking would have been that the Priest and the Levite were the neighbours of the man who had been beaten and robbed. What we see very plainly through this story however, is that they didn’t act like neighbours at all. It was the so-called “enemy” of the man who helped him. The least likely and most unexpected one who stepped up and did the right thing.

It seems that the question which Jesus is wanting to highlight through these verses is not so much, “Who is my neighbour” but rather the question is, “to whom can I be a neighbour?” This parable seems to break down walls of prejudice and highlights God’s unconditional, sacrificial love for all people.

Having defined what makes a person our “neighbour” in the eyes of the Lord and showing how God’s love is to be extended to everyone, the parable of the good samaritan ends with Jesus saying to the Lawyer, “Go and do likewise.”
Jesus used this parable to answer the Lawyer’s question and also provide a command for practical application. This parable shows us that we are to love our neighbour, even if our neighbour may be the one who others might consider to be our enemy. A neighbour is the one who has a need and is right in front of us.

This doesn’t necessarily mean we must run around after every need that presents itself in our day. After all, the Samaritan didn’t start up a hospital for every traveller in trouble, he simply helped the one who was before him and in clear need. What it does mean however, is that God wants us to be sensitive to both the practical and spiritual needs of those who are right in front of us, without prejudice.

Thinking about this parable’s definition of “neighbour,” who is in front of you today who has a need? Can you think of a way to help that person?
Is there someone who God has been putting on your heart recently who you could offer some support to, in either a practical or spiritual sense?

As the Scottish Baptist minister, Alexander Maclaren once said,
“The world would be a changed place if every Christian attended to the sorrows that are plain before him.”
Let’s pray that our ears may be sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit and our hearts may be open and willing to show the unconditional, sacrificial love of our Saviour to those who are before us and in need today.