5 Men in the Parable of the Good Samaritan

This morning I was reading Jesus’ parable of The Good Samaritan in Luke 10.

This parable has been analyzed, allegorized, and sermonized, but not often enough actualized in our lives.

Good Samaritan has become synonymous with a charitable person who helps others, especially strangers. However, this feel-good story involves some elements that are not so nice.

The parable was in response to a Jewish religious leader who was testing Jesus and trying to trap him.

“What shall I do to inherit eternal life? he questioned

“What is written in the law? Jesus asked

The lawyer’s reply was the two great commandments to love God and love your neighbor.

“You’ve answered correctly, do this and you will live,” Jesus acknowledged.

But that was not good enough. Further seeking to ensnare Jesus and justify himself the lawyer, asked, “Who is my neighbor?”

The parable has characters that are often overlooked.

(1) The Hurt Man

He was traveling a treacherous road from Jerusalem to Jericho. This 17-mile stretch drops 3300 feet in elevation. It was virtually uninhabited. Marked by cliffs and gullies on each side of the road. Thieves often took advantage of unsuspecting travelers. In Bible times it was called “the path of blood.” Good judgment suggests you don’t travel this road alone. But he did. As a result, was beaten, bloodied, and left dying on the side of the road.

There are many today who are suffering. They are either hurting physically, mentally or emotionally. The road is littered with abandoned children. Abused women. The homeless. Handicapped. And others with addictions. It’s a reality we don’t like to think about.

(2) The Hurting Man

The second person in the parable is the man or men who inflicted their hurt. Those with no concern for the rights and property of others. They are selfish. Cruel. And calloused.

Like the thieves in the story, there are those today who rob and intentionally hurt others. They seek gain at the expense of another. Maybe not by literally stealing but through dishonesty and duplicity.

Some hurt others with gossip, reckless innuendo, and unfounded, slanderous accusations. Husbands and wives can hurt one another with thoughtless actions, angry outbursts, or sarcastic digs.

(3) The Heedless Man

The Priest saw the wounded man, but was inattentive. He passed by on the other side. Maybe the man was dead. He didn’t know. But touching him would make the Priest unclean according to the law. And unable to serve. Or possibly it was a trick. And an accomplice was waiting to rob him. So, he decided not to be bothered or get involved.

How often are we like the Priest? Busy. Going somewhere. Preoccupied with our schedule. We don’t have time to be bothered. We know we ought “to do good to all people.” But not now. Not today. Maybe later.

(4) The Heartless Man

The Levite was worse than the priest. He stopped. Walked over. Looked at the bruise and bleeding man. Then passed on. What was he thinking? Feeling? Wondering? We don’t know.

But we do know there is too much insensitivity in the world today toward the needs of others. People who are indifferent. Uncaring. And apathetic.

(5) The Helping Man

The Good Samaritan is the hero in Jesus’ story. The Bible says he felt “compassion” for the wounded stranger. He knew what needed to be done. And did it. His actions represented a sacrifice of time and money. Not to mention the possible risk of his personal safety.

Interestingly, Jesus uses a Samaritan as the good guy in the story. Samaritans were hated by the Jews as a half-breed race. But the one despised by others came to rescue and render loving aid.

Now, which man am I?

It’s easy to be thankful we’re not suffering hurt. Or to self-righteously feel good about ourselves that we’re not hurting others. But are there times when we are heedless regarding the hurts of others? Or worse yet, heartless?

This parable stands as a timeless example to apply the Scripture “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It challenges us to reach out beyond our circle of friends and fellow Christians. To get outside our comfort zone. It’s a call to show mercy to the unfortunate lying beside the Jericho road of life. It’s a cry to “do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Gal. 6:10).

“You be the Good Samaritan,” pleads Jesus. Open your heart. Give your time. Share your resources.

“Go and do likewise.”

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

9 Comments

Filed under Christian Living, compassion, Parables of Jesus

9 responses to “5 Men in the Parable of the Good Samaritan

  1. Pingback: 5 Men in the Parable of the Good Samaritan | A disciple's study

  2. Charlotte Lair

    You have such good lessons!

  3. Brownie Reaves

    Ken, well done my friend. I think of three separate and distinct attitudes in this story: the robber(s), “what’s yours is mine and I will take it if I want it”; the priest and Levite: “what’s mine is mine and I will keep it”; and the Good Samaritan: “what mine is yours and you can have it if you need it”. With love, compassion, and empathy, this “foreigner” can certainly teach us some important lessons. Good work, brother, and all the best to you and Norma.

  4. David Clark

    The innkeeper deserves recognition. He took an injured man in and took over his care not knowing whether a stranger’s promise to repay him would be upheld nor how long the recovery would be. The fact is the innkeeper was in for the long haul. How often are our acts of generosity of short duration? A few dollars handout and forget about why it was needed as if the problem were permanently solved and out of our sight.

  5. Coincidently, I was thinking about this story this morning too. However, I wanted to challenge the traditional thinking praising the “Good Samaritan” as the “Good Neighbour.”

    These days people hate. Some blame their hate on President Trump. They say he is the one stirring up all the hate.

    People can find many reasons to hate. What are your reasons?

    Are you so sure the person or persons you hate deserve your hate?

    The big words I’ve heard bandied about are:

    S/he is

    1. A liar
    2. A Racist
    3. A Crook
    4. A Bigot
    5. A Hypocrite
    6. A Hater
    7. A Sexist
    8. A Father from Hell
    9. Wicked
    10. Disrespectful

    These days people pride themselves on being Good Neighbours. They have heard the story of the Good Samaritan often enough and take pride in being the One to offer comfort to the Neighbour who has been robbed and beaten and left for dead.

    The Good Citizen wanting to justify him/herself asks. Who is my neighbour? Identifying with the one robbed and beaten who they are quick to want to help, they pat themselves on the back. They see themselves as the “Good Neighbour.” Full of righteous pride, they may turn and spit on the person running off on a Holy Mission, too busy to help the down and out on the street. More often they may turn their anger and hate toward the Robber who has beaten up their Neighbour because they do not see the Robber as a neighbour who needs their love or their help.

    Many people ask. Do Liars, Racists, Crooks, Bigots—BIG TIME LOSERS, SINNERS—deserve any love? Do they deserve words of praise?

    Many will say NO!

    Many will go even farther and dig and dig for further evidence to justify their hatred and convince others to join them in their hatred and their condemnation. They won’t bother to look for anything praiseworthy or find any reason to redeem this neighbour.

    In the story of the Good Samaritan, many people do not stop to help the victim. They go on their way. The One who stops and helps is often thought of as the Good Neighbour. The One who walks by is not.

    And yet, the One who walks by may be someone who needs some help too. And dare I say so does the Robber. We don’t know the Robber’s story or why the One the Samaritan helped got robbed and beaten. Many people have no time or love at all for robbers, liars, cheats, sexists and racists. They are busy building walls –of how Good am I—to protect themselves from people who are not like them—good, honest, excellent time managers and people who care for those who are hurt or fleeing persecution.

    We all are busy and we need to be wary of the One who is out to rob us. The other day, a man on the street asked me for money. I shook my head and went my way. I had no money to give a beggar on the street. I was in a hurry to honour a time commitment. I didn’t stop and chat the man up—to direct him to social services—or offer to buy him a coffee. I didn’t even take the time to smile.

    So, I want to take a moment today to say thank you to people who care for the people in downtown Vancouver who are unemployed and homeless. We have social services here in Vancouver. We also have churches and volunteer agencies that do their best to help people when they are down and out. People in need are not always clean or sober. They may lie, steal, cheat or kill someone for an opportunity to get high or improve their lot in life. It takes people with very big hearts to love these people. It also takes a lot of tax dollars and good will donations. Sadly, there may be times when there is not enough to go around.

    I’ve heard it said, Love makes the World Go’Round. So, why then do people who believe in love and want the world to love hate and lash out and criticize and blame those who hate for the hate in the world? Hate is easy. Love takes time, money and a lot of empathy and forgiveness.

    Please do not be quick to judge the hated one…the one viewed as Jesus Barabbas or Judas….the thief… or the Persons who do not stop and help the One beaten up and robbed. They need your love, not your hate and condemnation. They are neighbours and they do not always think and do things the way you think things should be done. That may get them in trouble, it may not. Love them anyhow and meet them when they are still far off. Be like the Father of the Two Sons. Find a reason to smile and celebrate with both sons.

  6. Larry Ray Hafley

    Excellent analysis, Ken. Loved it. Every preacher has sermons on the good Samaritan. Now, thanks to you, we all have another one!

  7. Pingback: The Sixth Man | ThePreachersWord

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