One of my favorite parables that Jesus tells is the one of the Good Samaritan (found in Luke 10:25-37). But to really understand the strength of this message, you have to realized what a “Samaritan” was to the audience of Jews (and specifically the ‘expert in the law’) that Jesus was talking to. Jews were “God’s chosen people” and over time, this stature really went to some of their heads. Even within the Jewish community, they had created a level system. They looked down on the “Gentiles” (anyone not a Jew) as a lower class group of people. But there was one group of people that were considered lower than dogs. (Side note, since I personally hold dogs pretty high, this is not really an insult, but back then it was). This group of people were the Samaritans. So with that context, let’s look at the Parable in an “updated paraphrased version”.
After Jesus agreed with the lawyer that the greatest commandment was to Love God with everything you have and love your neighbor as yourself, Jesus clarified just who your neighbor really is, by telling a story.
A Jewish business man is traveling between towns when he is robbed and beaten half to death, left on the side of the road, dying and naked. At two different times in the day, a Jewish Priest and a Levite (most respected in the community) walked by and avoided this man in distress. But the third person to walk by was a disgusting low life of a Samaritan. This is the many who took pity, used his limited supplies to care for the injured Jew and even paid for his care at a local clinic. This low life even went so far as to put down his credit card to guarantee payment of any other bills that came as a result of his care.
When Jesus asked the lawyer who behaved neighborly, he said the Samaritan did. Jesus simple response was to “go and do likewise”.
This story of an unbeliever showing love and compassion to a stranger, when the two believers did not, is a sad reality even today. I hear stories of a “Christian” not offering to help someone else who is not a Christian and I see them as the same as the Priest and the Levite. But Jesus calls us to behave like the Samaritan did.
God set the example by sending His Son to die, not only for the Jews, but for EVERYONE. The Jesus set the example by spending time with the sinners (the lost sheep). And in the middle, He tells us to not withhold help from someone simply because of their place in life.
We are to care for EVERYONE, just like He does. We want everyone to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, but even those who don’t, we are still to love as ourselves.
If you’ve ever been the injured man on the side of the road and watched as “believers” walked by without help, let me just say I’m sorry for their ignorance. That is NOT what Jesus calls us to do. He showed love to everyone, the Samaritan showed love by caring for the Jewish business man… and Jesus calls us to “go and do likewise”.