Luke 10: 25-37 New revised standard version (NRSV)
The parable of the Good Samaritan
25 Just then, a lawyer stood up to tempt Jesus.[a] “Master,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He told him: “What does the law say? What are you reading there? ” 27 He replied, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and the neighbor as himself. ” 28 And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live. “
29 But desiring to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus answered, “A man came down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and left him, leaving him half dead. 31 Now, by chance, the priest was walking that path; and when he saw him, he passed on the other side. 32 So also the Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed over on the other side. 33 But the Samaritan approached him on the journey; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine over them. He then put him on his animal, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii,[b] gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I return, I will give you back everything you spend. ‘ 36 Which of these three do you think was the neighbor of the man who fell into the hands of the robbers? ” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”
Tim’s dedicated thinking for today
A few historical details from ancient Judea help to illuminate the rhetorical power of this famous story. The most important is Jesus ’choice of location to set the story – the journey from Jerusalem to Jericho.
In antiquity it was known that this time it was treacherous with dangers both natural and human. The Greek word for the type of “inn” to which the Samaritan brings the wounded was a public place to stay with hired servants, a step away from the informal type of “inn”, which was really a guest room, where Mary and Joseph could not find a place (Luke 2: 7).
The amount of money provided by the Samaritan, “two denarii” (v. 35), would be more than enough to care for the wounded. Denarius was equal to the daily wage, so we can imagine in our modern world how much money should be spent on a stranger. Roman historians confirm that since two denarii could provide food for a month for a healthy adult male, that amount could probably provide food, shelter, and special care for more than a week.
The Samaritan had several good reasons not to stop. First, the wounded man is clearly not a Samaritan. A roadside man would probably hate a Samaritan under normal circumstances. Secondly, this traveling Samaritan has a valuable cargo beast – a mule or a horse or an ox – and thirdly, he has enough money on him to give the innkeeper two denarii and promise him everything he needs more. Apparently, there is a gang of robbers in the area that could attack him at any moment.
The Samaritan not only pauses to help the wounded man, but also takes the time to do what he can there at the end of the road before moving him to safety. He gives first aid – wine as a disinfectant for cleaning, oil as a soothing remedy and bandages for comfort and cleanliness. Only then does the Samaritan carefully move the passenger to the safety of the inn.
After Jesus told this story, he asked his questions again: “What do you think? Which of these three was a neighbor to the man who came across the thieves? “
Then the legal expert said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus simply said, “Go and do the same.”
Without a doubt, Jesus encourages a legal professional to help those in need, as the Samaritan did. At the same time, Jesus also forced the lawyer to revolutionize the recognition and change the view of the Samaritans.
It is acknowledged that a Samaritan can be good. (Remember, the Jews and the Samaritans hated each other.) I wonder if the lawyer left scratching his head and asking, “What just happened here? I asked him ‘Who is my neighbor?’ and he told me to go and BE a neighbor to others, and he even gave a dirty, corrupt, dirty Samaritan as an example of a neighbor! ”
I guess if Jesus had talked to Israeli Jews today, his good neighbor would have been a Palestinian. Had he talked to the Palestinians, he would have had a good neighbor, an Israeli Jew. In any case, the message is as clear as it could be: do not waste time and energy trying to discover who is inside and who is outside, whom God loves and who does not, who is acceptable and who is not.
Oh, the time and energy we spent on that question!
Instead, Jesus says, go and do what the Samaritan did. Take the time, energy, effort and your own resources to help another person in need – even a person who is very different from ourselves. Even a person that our culture, tradition and religious norms say we should hate – or at least with whom we will have no contact at all.
In other words, Jesus’ answer to the question, Who is my neighbor? Is Don’t worry about it – just go and BE neighbor.