25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “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.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side.
32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.
35 And the next day he took out two denarii[a] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
This text is the story of the Good Samaritan. There is no time reference. The narrative is independent from what has gone before and begins a new section.
The expert in the Law was a scholar well-versed in Scripture. He asked a common question (10:25), He asked this either to take issue with Jesus or simply to see what kind of teacher He was.
The answer assumes that the way of the Torah is the way of life. “Life” is the result for one who, in the communion of God’s love, walks in His ways. But it is possible to move from the summary statements given by the lawyer to a moralizing of the Torah, as did many of the Jews. One must read the Torah as the book of God’s gracious election and constitution of His people despite their sin, not as a “how to” book about earning merit before God.
The human response in faith is likewise a response in love and mercy, as Jesus illustrated by the Good Samaritan story. Jesus affirmed that if a person fulfills the Law of God perfectly, that individual will receive eternal life on Judgment Day. However, this is impossible for sinners.
The road from Jerusalem to Jericho was a distance of 17 miles and a descent from about 2,500 feet above sea level to about 800 feet below sea level.
The road ran through rocky, desert country, which provided places for robbers to waylay defenseless travelers. It is significant that the person Jesus commended was neither the religious leader nor the lay associate, but a hated foreigner.
The Samaritan put himself at risk by identifying himself as one making amends. He might be attacked by the victim’s family in revenge for the attack by the bandits since the actual attackers could not be found.
Jesus tells the famous parable of the Good Samaritan to clarify that He expects His followers to do good to all people. However, His concluding exhortation, “Go, and do likewise,” reminds us just how far we are from the loving, self-sacrificing behaviors the Lord expects. So it was that Jesus became the Good Samaritan for us. He laid down His life and befriended us while we were yet His enemies. He promises us full restoration and life everlasting.
Prayer: Lord, make me more like You, that I grow in faith and love for my neighbor.
May people see You in my actions as I reach out to them with Your love. Amen.