The Good Samaritan

April 27, 2014    Luke 10:25 42 The Good Samaritan    

 

A man falls into a pit.   

A scientist comes by and calculates the amount of pressure needed to pull him out of the pit

A geologist comes by and he is keenly interested in the different strata and layers that are in the pit.

A tax man goes by and he is wondering who is paying taxes on the pit.

A building inspector comes by and he wonders if the owner has taken out a building permit to dig the pit.

The self pity person comes by and says you haven’t seen anything yet.

The charismatic Christian comes by and tells him just confess that you are not in the pit.

The optimist comes by and says things could be a lot worse.

A pessimist comes by and says surely things will get worse. 

The subjective person goes by and says I feel sorry for you in the pit. 

The logical person comes by and says it makes sense that someone would fall into this pit.

The Christian Scientist comes by and says you only think you are in the pit.

The reporter comes by and wants the exclusive story on the pit. 

The fundamentalist comes by and says you deserve to be in the pit.

A follower of Confucius comes by and says if you only listened to me you would not be in the pit.

The Buddhist comes by and tells him the pit is only a state of mind.

The realist says it is certainly a pit and you’re in it. 

The lawyer comes by and says lets sue the person who dug this pit.  

An intelligent person comes by and says that is a stupid place to dig a pit.  

A business person comes by and says I wonder how much it cost to dig that pit. 

The statistical person comes by and calculates the probability of falling into the pit. 

Jesus comes by and kneels down and lifts the man out of the pit.  

 

     Most people believe this is a parable but it is also believed that it may be a true story that Jesus tells.   Matthew 13 has 6 parables in it and the disciples ask Jesus why he spoke in parables.   Matt 13:10 – The disciples came to him and asked why do you speak to the people in parables?   He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.   Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance.   Whoever does not have even what he has will be taken from him.    This is why I speak to them in parables: Though seeing they do not see; though hearing they do not hear or understand which is a quote from Deuteronomy, Jeremiah and Ezekiel.   In Isaiah scripture says you will be ever hearing but never understanding.  You will be ever seeing but never understanding.

    God wants us to know Him but people are set and bent not to know him.  Romans 1 tells us that God gave them up to their sin.   Here God gives them up to their lack of knowledge.    They always thought they had all the answers.   We know that is not God’s will for us because he wants us to see and to hear.   I believe that part of the reason that people do not hear and believe is because of pride and the desire to have and believe things the way they want them.     We need to be open and accepting and seeking when we come to God and not come to God forcing our beliefs, our ideals, and our desires in scripture.

     When you force your view and interpretation in God’s word you twist scripture and Peter says people do that to their own destruction.    So Jesus explained a lot of the parables to the disciples.  The parables of the Kingdom of Heaven needed explaining.    Sometimes the disciples would ask Jesus to explain the meaning to them.   The parables that Jesus shared when talking with Jewish leaders were shared in a way that they got the point.   Jesus told stories or parables to get his point across.  

    The parable of the Good Samaritan did not need to be explained.   Jesus did not explain all of the parables.   Some have thought that it is not a parable but an allegory.    To interpret an allegory everything or most things in the story means something else.   The story of the sower and the seed is considered a parable by most people.   As Jesus interpreted the parable of the sower he seemed to use a semi-allegorical method to explain it.    The birds become Satan.   The seed was the word of God.   The birds eat the seed and Jesus says Satan comes and takes away the word.     So the birds become Satan and that is allegorical.    Many people have tried to interpret these stories or parables by using allegorical methods.   Also Jesus said the meaning was hidden to some of his parables but not all of His parables.    In an allegory the meaning certainly is hidden.  What is allegory?    Many of the details in the story represent something else.   In Aramaic the word Jesus used was methal which translated into Greek parable, which means riddle, puzzle, and parable category.   The Greek language is a very descriptive language.   Here is an example of using allegory to understand the parable of the Good Samaritan and this is Augustine’s interpretation of the Good Samaritan.    This is a good example of using allegory to understand the story or parable of the Good Samaritan.    REREAD the Parable 

A man was going from Jerusalem to Jericho - Adam

Jerusalem - The heavenly city of peace from which Adam fell

Jericho – is the moon and thereby signifies Adam’s mortality

Robbers – the devil and his angels.

Stripped him – of his immortality  (Only God has immortality)

Beat him – by persuading him to sin

Leaving him half dead – he lives as a man but dies spiritually so he is half dead

The priest and the Levite – The priesthood and ministry of the OT

The Samaritan – means guardian therefore it is Jesus

Bandaged his wounds – binding the restraint of sin

Oil – comfort of good hope

Wine – exhortation to work with a fervent spirit

Donkey – the flesh of Christ’s incarnation

Inn – the church

The next day – after the resurrection

Two silver coins – promise of this life and the life to come

Innkeeper – Paul 

      Can you see how that approach to understanding scripture is an allegory?   Nothing is what it seems to be.   An innkeeper is an innkeeper and Paul is not an innkeeper.   He was an apostle etc.    As interesting and fascinating as that is it is not what Jesus had in mind.   Jesus is answering the question of is who is my neighbor?  Jesus is talking to people in front of him and answering a question.    Jesus is not talking about the Apostle Paul who comes on the scene years later.    To use allegory method of interpretation of this passage can lead a person to the wrong understanding of this passage.    Augustine did it and he was a great man of God but that is not what Jesus is teaching here.    The context calls for an understanding of human relationships.   The parables call for a response.   The meaning of parables and the message of the parables are in the parables.   It is not in something else or changing the meaning of the words or the nouns in the parable. 

   Typically Jesus had to explain the parables of the kingdom of heaven.   That is one reason why some have tried to make this an allegory.  I believe the disciples understood this and therefore Jesus did not give any further teaching on it.   The parable explains itself.   Even the lawyer or scribe came to the right understanding.   The people got it.   Jesus blew this lawyer or scribe away.       It is one of those deals where the lawyer has been had and he just wants to go away.    The scribe or lawyer knew exactly what Jesus was saying.  There is so much wisdom and power in this that it just blows us away.   This just amazes me and I hope you can grasp what is happening here.

         The start of the story is a scribe or lawyer asking Jesus a religious question, which was OK, but the questions were designed to trap Jesus so they could find fault or black ball Jesus.  What Jesus typically did when the religious leaders did this was to destroy them publicly.   Jesus it seems to me always turned the tables on them and made them look like they got a lot of egg on their face.   In the end they would not ask him any more questions because Jesus always won and they always looked bad and often the people around loved it.   At the end of the Sermon on the Mount Matthew tells us that the people were amazed at his teaching because he taught as one who had authority and not as their teachers of the law. 

   The lawyer stands up and tests Jesus by asking what the lawyer had to do to inherit eternal life and Jesus asks him what is written in the law and the lawyer answers love the Lord your God with all your soul, with all your heart, with all mind, and your neighbor as yourself.     So far so good right?    Jesus says you have answered rightly do this and you will live.   And then the lawyer wants to justify himself and make himself look good so he says who is my neighbor?    And Jesus shares this parable.   Now the person traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho is believed to be a Jew and he gets robbed and beat up.  Jericho is just north East of Jerusalem so one would assume the person traveling is Jewish.    A fellow Jew comes by who is a priest.   Now the lawyer does not think too much of the priest and probably has the attitude of what do you expect of a priest anyway.   Now the priest may have been going to the temple to do his duty and was thinking that people would be waiting on him to minister to them or he may have been going home after being on duty in the temple for a period of time and eager to be with his family.     We sure do not know.   He probably had the thought that others would soon pass by and help the man in the ditch.  The Levite is another priestly type and does the same thing.   The lawyer may be thinking that the next person in Jesus story is going to be (Wall Ah – Himself) a Pharisee or lawyer because he is willing to help a fellow Jew.   But Jesus just blows him away.   It is a Samaritan.  Samaritans were hated by the Jews.   Two fellow Jews go by and leave this man in the ditch and a Samaritan who was hated by the Jews and who were considered sworn enemies of the Jews comes by and helps him out.  There is just no way that the Pharisee or lawyer would help a Samaritan.   He just would not do it.   And Jesus just has this lawyer by the throat.  Do you see what is happening here?     

     I am sure Jesus was angry with the attitude the lawyer displayed.   Jesus said at one point give to those that can’t give back to you.    The leaders would serve and give to each other because they believed that it would all even out in the end.  Whatever was given would be given back.   That is a calculated giving.  That is a giving with an expectation of a return.   Jesus asks him who was the neighbor?   Jesus did not answer his question.   He asked the lawyer who the neighbor was.     It was a Samaritan who was considered to be the enemy of the Jew who was in the ditch.    The moral of the story is be a neighbor to your enemy or those in need or those you do not like.   .   The lawyer wanted to justify himself and make himself look good.    We tend to down play God’s holiness and exalt or build up our righteousness and that is just what the lawyer is doing.   He is not pleading for mercy - he is exalting himself and Jesus drops him back into reality.      It has been stated that Jesus destroyed the question rather than answer it.   I believe with all my heart that the lawyer knew that Jesus just destroyed him and Jesus never answered his question.   He laid it out in such a way that the lawyer answered his own question.  The answer was obvious.   Jesus says in effect you are responsible for all people even those you do not like.    .  

    How would we put or relate this parable of the Good Samaritan in today’s environment?   A family of disheveled and unkempt individuals was stranded by the side of a major road on a Sunday morning.   They were in obvious distress.   The mother was sitting on a tattered suitcase, hair uncombed, clothes in disarray, with a glazed look in her eyes, holding a smelly, poorly clad, crying baby.  The father was unshaved dressed in coveralls, a look of despair on his face as he tried to corral 2 other youngsters.   Beside them was a run-down old car that had obviously just given up the ghost.   Down the road came a car driven by a local bishop; he was on the way to church.   And though the father waves frantically the bishop could not hold up his parishioners, so he acted as though he did not see them. 

     Soon another car comes by and again the father waves frantically.   But the car was driven by the president of a bank or business and he was late for a large meeting in the nearby city.   He to acted as though he did not see them and kept his eyes strait on the road ahead of him.    The next car that came by was driven by an outspoken atheist, who had never been to church in his life.  When he saw the family in distress he took them into his own car.  After inquiring as to their need he took them to a local motel, where he paid for a weeks lodging while the father found work.  He also paid for the father to rent a car while the father looked for work and gave the mother cash for food and clothes.    

    If Jesus were teaching that in Germany in 1940 or after the war what he would he say?    What would Jesus say 50 years ago in Alabama?   What is Jesus saying in this passage?   God cares for people.   All people are important.