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Lat Blaylock, Editor, RE Today
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Parables: The Good Samaritan
What does this parable teach Christians?
We all have people that we find difficult to get along with, those we would rather avoid rather than help. Jesus told a story about how Christians should treat everyone, regardless of how we feel.
A lawyer asked Jesus a question: “Who is my neighbour?” What the man meant was, who should I help?
Jesus did not give a direct answer, instead, he told a story. The journey from Jerusalem to Jericho was a dangerous one in his day. It is 17 miles long and descends 3,300 feet. Perhaps the story Jesus told is based on something that actually happened, or perhaps he was referring to the fear that if you went down this road, then you were quite likely to get attacked and robbed.
Walking along this dangerous road was a Jewish man who was violently attacked and left for dead. A priest passes by but doesn't help, walking by on the other side. There might be two reasons for this: 1.He might have been afraid that this might be a trap and he could get attacked. Or 2. He might have been worried that the man was dead and that he would become unclean by touching the man. Or there is a third possibility: he was just too busy to stop.
The second man to come by was a Levite, who again walked on by. Levites were a special religious clan who had high status in Israel, so he might not have wanted to touch someone he regarded as unclean.
Finally, a Samaritan turns up. Now Jews saw Samaritans as their enemies, likely wanting to trick them. Perhaps Jesus’ audience might have thought that the man who had been attacked would be murdered by this third person. Not a bit of it; the Samaritan deals with the man’s wounds, takes him to a safe place and agrees to pay his upkeep at the inn.
WHAT WAS JESUS TEACHING PEOPLE THROUGH THIS PARABLE
Jesus was challenging the lawyer’s view about who was good and who was not: at the end of the story the lawyer cannot bring himself to say “The Samaritan.”
Today, Christians take this story as the inspiration to show love for all people. One charity designed to help the poorest people is called “The Samaritan’s Purse.” A group set up to listen to people who might think about committing suicide is called The Samaritans.
You can read the parable for yourself in the Bible: Luke 10: 25-37
- What do Christians learn from this parable?
- How could you show a selfless concern for others, like the Samaritan in the story?