The Good Samaritan

Good morning brothers and sisters. Greetings in the name of our savor the Lord Jesus Christ.  In this morning’s reading of Luke chapter 10 we have the account of Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan.  This particular parable is one of the best known throughout the entire world.  In fact, as far as best known things from the bible it ranks right up there with the story of Noah and the arc, the story of Jonah and the whale, Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem and his death on the cross. It might surprise some of you, that most local, state and federal government agencies, along with many worldwide corporations and companies, have a written company policy in place that references Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan.  The written policy at my place of employment, a local government entity, reads thus: Any injured employees requiring medical assistance should be reported to the Supervisor on site at this time.

The supervisor on site shall make the decision whether shutdown of the affected operation is required.  Because of the near proximity to fire, paramedic, and medical facilities, no employees will be designated and trained to perform any rescue and medical duties.  Any efforts in these area will be done on a “Good Samaritan” basis.

This policy is in place to protect the company from any legal liability should one of its employee’s, render aid to an injured fellow employee which may cause further damage to their fellow employee’s injury  or even death.  Every employee of the company understands what the Good Samaritan clause means.  No matter what an employee’s religious affiliation is or whether they are an atheist, everybody that works for the company understands this clause.  I find it ironic that we live in a society were a graduating class’ valedictorian is not allowed to mention the name of Jesus in their speech; or that the school break near the end of December is now referred to as the Holiday break instead of the long standing Christmas break, unless it’s a Christian school; or where it is now illegal to display a Nativity scene on public property, during that time of year; or where it is now illegal for a local, state or federal judge to display the ten commandments in their courtroom.  Yet a reference from the bible is incorporated into a written company policy in most local, state, and federal government agencies.  

Every state and most countries have a law in place that is actually called the Good Samaritan law or act.  The law is in place to offer legal protection to people who give reasonable assistance to those who are, or who they believe to be, injured, ill, in peril, or otherwise incapacitated.

The protection is intended to reduce bystanders' hesitation to assist, for fear of being sued or prosecuted for unintentional injury or wrongful death.

For example, the following is the Hawaii Good Samaritan Act

"Any person who in good faith renders emergency care, without renumeration or expectation of renumeration, at the scene of an accident or emergency to the victim of the accident or emergency shall not be liable for any civil damages resulting from the persons acts or omission, except for such damages as may result from the persons gross negligence or wanton acts or omissions."

So we find laws in place as a result of something Jesus said some two thousand years ago.

On the surface the parable of the Good Samaritan is very simple and easy to remember. But if we take a deeper look into the parable we recognize the complexity and wisdom of the mind of Jesus.  And that’s exactly what we are going to do this morning.

The story begins at Luke 10:25 with a lawyer asking Jesus a question. The scripture reads that the lawyer was actually testing Jesus with his particular question.

(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?”(NLT)

When we hear the word lawyer, we automatically think of a civil or defense attorney like Perry Mason or Johnny Cochran or “Hurt in a car call KNR or Tin Misney with his catch phrase “I’ll make them pay”. 

But in biblical times Lawyers among the Jews, was one versed in the laws of Moses, which he expounded in the schools and synagogues.

The work of the "lawyers," frequently spoken of as "scribes," also known as "doctors" of the law (Luke 2:46 margin), was first of all that of jurists. Their business was threefold:

 

(1) to study and interpret the law of Moses;

 

(2) to instruct the Hebrew youth in the law of Moses;

 

(3) to decide questions of the law of Moses.

The first two they did as scholars and teachers, the last as advisers in some court.

Since this question was put forth to Jesus by someone that he was well aware knew the Law of Moses intimately, Jesus formed his own question as his answer.

(26) “What is written in the Law?” Jesus replied. “How do you read it?”(NLT)

(27) The Lawyer 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; and, Love your neighbor as yourself” (NLT).

(28) “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”(NLT)

Foiled by Jesus’ answer, the lawyer wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus,

(29)“And who is my neighbor?”

 

The story builds on a common situation, a seventeen-mile journey on the Jericho-to-Jerusalem road. This rocky thoroughfare was lined with caves that made good hideouts for robbers and bandits.

The road was notoriously dangerous, the ancient equivalent to the inner city late at night. Josephus notes how some took weapons to protect themselves as they traveled this road and others like it (Jewish Wars 2.8.4 125). 

In reply to the lawyer Jesus said: (30) “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.

The Levites held a special place in Jewish society and only a Levite could be a priest.  In Numbers 18:5 God tells Aaron and his sons:

 

(5) “You yourselves must perform the sacred duties inside the sanctuary and at the altar. If you follow these instructions, the Lord’s anger will never again blaze against the people of Israel. (6) I myself have chosen your fellow Levites from among the Israelites to be your special assistants. They are a gift to you, dedicated to the Lord for service in the Tabernacle”.

To be able to perform their duties with no worldly distractions, God tells Aaron (Numbers 18: 20)

“You priests will receive no allotment of land or share of property among the people of Israel. I am your share and your allotment. (21) As for the tribe of Levi, your relatives, I will compensate them for their service in the Tabernacle. Instead of an allotment of land, I will give them the tithes from the entire land of Israel”. 

Of all the people of Israel Jesus could have chosen for this parable, he chose people from the one tribe dedicated to the service of the Lord.  The impact on the listeners is greater because of this choice.

He chose those who did not have to worry about tending a vineyard or orchard or grain field or livestock.  Their whole purpose was to serve the Lord.  But instead of serving the Lord they “passed by on the other side”.

The parable continues (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 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.’

In the days of Christ, the relationship between the Jews and the Samaritans was greatly strained (Luke 9:52-54; Luke 10:25-37; Luke 17:11-19; John 8:48 ). The animosity was so great that the Jews bypassed Samaria as they traveled between Galilee and Judea.

They went an extra distance through the barren land of Perea on the eastern side of the Jordan to avoid going through Samaria.

The Jews and the Samaritans despised each other.  This is precisely why Jesus used a Samaritan in the story.  The lawyer wanted an easy definition on ‘who’ his neighbor was.  Instead he got (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.”

Often times we would like an easy definition on who are neighbor is, when in fact we get the hard truth (Mathew 25:34 – 40) “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

(40) “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

 

In conclusion and in preparation to share these emblems before us, lets us ponder the lesson learned from the parable.  The Samaritan saved the life of a man who despised him just as Jesus saved the lives of many who despised him. Listen to the words of scripture concerning our Master (Isa 53:3-6)

He was despised and rejected—

    a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.

We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.

    He was despised, and we did not care.

Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;

    it was our sorrows that weighed him down.

And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,

    a punishment for his own sins!

But he was pierced for our rebellion,

    crushed for our sins.

He was beaten so we could be whole.

    He was whipped so we could be healed.

All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.

    We have left God’s paths to follow our own.

Yet the Lord laid on him

    the sins of us all.

Jesus did so much for us, should we do anything less, than honor his command to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with your entire mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself”.

 


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