Jesus Christ was a teacher and he often told parables, embedding within them messages and lessons. One of the many important parables Jesus taught was the parable of the Good Samaritan of the Gospel of Luke. He was asked by a lawyer, an expert on the Law of Moses; how one could inherit eternal life. Jesus replied by asking him what the law said and the lawyer replied with the first commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with your entire mind, and with all your strength; and, Love your neighbour as yourself” (Luke 10:27). Jesus said to do so and he will live. The lawyer wanted to justify himself and asked Jesus who his neighbour was. Jesus replied with the parable of The Good Samaritan. (Luke 10: 25-37) We can apply the covenants to our everyday life to be like the Good Samaritan.
The parable begins between the city of Jerusalem and the city of Jericho. The roads between the cities were rough and deserted, with very few inhabitants and where many robbers spent their time. A man travelling to Jericho was unfortunate and fell into the hands of the robbers. The robbers stripped him, beat him and then went away, leaving his body on the side of the road half dead. By chance, a priest was going down the same road and when he saw the beaten body, he passed onto the other side. Next a Levite came to the place and when he saw the man’s body, he too passed onto the other side. But a Samaritan, a person despised by the Jews was travelling when he saw the man. He approached the injured man, cleaned and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. The Samaritan put the man onto his animal and brought him to an inn to take care of him. The next day, he returns and repay the innkeeper whatever more he spent.
The priest and the Levite are two characters in the parable. They are Jewish religious leaders who have good knowledge of God’s law. There are a number of possibilities which may explain why the priest and the Levite could not stop and help the injured man. It would have been bad for the priest and the Levite to touch a dead body, which may explain why they did not check to see if the man was dead. To touch a dead body would have made the Levite and the priest unclean (Numbers 19:11). In Leviticus 21:1, it states: ‘The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them: A priest must not make himself ceremonially unclean for any of his people who die.” But in accordance to Leviticus 25:35, they were still required to help his brother in need: “If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you.” They may have had to be someplace else and therefore, it would have been an inconvenience to help the man, their neighbour while the Samaritan did.
The third person in the parable is a Samaritan, a person from the province of Samaria. Samaritan and Jews did not associate with one another (John 4:9). Jews called Samaritans unclean and looked down on them. To Jews, Samaritans were considered as social outcasts, untouchables and racially inferior people who practised a false religion. Any physical contact with a Samaritan would make a Jew ceremonially unclean. The Samaritans responded with a strong dislike for the Jews. The bible does not say whether the injured man was a Jew but either way the charitable Samaritan was moved with pity when he saw the half-dead man on the side of the road, “The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But the Good Samaritan reversed the question, “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” (Martin Luther
King Jr, 1968). It was the Samaritan who showed Mercy to the injured man, not the Levite or the priest and this is the point that Jesus was trying to get across to the lawyer.