LOVE IN ACTION
Lord, Your teachings never cease to amaze us.
Read LUKE 10:25–37
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
a Luke 10:27 Deut. 6:5
b Luke 10:27 Lev. 19:18
x Luke 10:35 A denarius was the usual daily wage of a day laborer (see Matt. 20:2).
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people” (Gal. 6:10).
The teaching here is unequivocal: we are to do good to all people, without regard to differences of ethnicity, gender, orientation, religion, or any of the other categories that can divide us. This extends especially to those people from whom we feel most estranged. This parable is almost universally famous, justly so, and is in every sense classically Christian.
To make his point Jesus employs a shock tactic. A despised Samaritan is presented as the embodiment of mercy. The lawyer who asks the question (25) knows his Scriptures well enough but evades their full implications. Perhaps he shares the common prejudice against Samaritans (one that Jesus did not share) and is prevaricating. Or maybe he just likes to argue. Jesus does not directly answer his question as to who his neighbor might be. Instead he poses a different challenge: to whom can I prove to be a neighbor? And the answer is clear—to anybody who is in need.
The behavior of these professional religious ﬁgures thought to be on their way to minister at the temple is sometimes considered to be an indictment of those who place their ritual purity above common humanity. This may be so—and it is a sad fact that the religious are not always merciful. However, they are more likely to be returning from Jerusalem rather than heading toward it (31). They have done their religious shift and might be expected now, as exemplary ﬁgures, to show some simple compassion. For whatever reason (fear, or lack of concern?), they “pass by on the other side.” The Samaritan, by contrast, who might be expected to pass by, is the one who feels pity and shows mercy (37), a divine quality. Herein lies the shock. The application is that we should do the same, living lives full of mercy. We have no excuse.
God “is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:35,36).
Lord, impart to each of us the degree of compassion that You displayed when You walked the earth as a man.
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