The fourth category of teaching parables Jesus gave, is the parables about neighbours. Using the story of the good Samaritan, Jesus Christ taught us who our neighbour is and how to serve our neighbour. This parable is found in Luke 10:30-37
30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant[a] walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.
33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’
36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.
37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”
Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”
A very popular story which many of us know. If we go back a few verses and read the bible passage from verse 25, we see that an expert in religious law came to Jesus wanting to know what he should do to inherit eternal life. In response, Jesus said;
“You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind”. And, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself'”
The man not quite pleased with that answer, asked Jesus who his neighbour was. Jesus’ response is what we call the parable of the good Samaritan.
In this parable we have 5 different people.
- The wounded man
- The bandits
- The priest
- The temple assistant
- The Good Samaritan
The bandits wounded the man and treated him as an object to exploit.
The priest treated the wounded man as a problem to avoid. Probably he was too focused on serving God the way religion taught him to.
The temple assistant treated the wounded man as an object of curiosity. Maybe he couldn’t afford to be late to church because his service was needed. So he opted to allow the possibility of a fellow brother to die by the road side just so he can run to go dance and shout in church.
But the Good Samaritan treated the wounded man as a PERSON to love.
Interestingly, if there was anyone who should walk away, it would have been the good Samaritan because of the discord that existed between the Jews and the Samaritan. However what made the Samaritan good, was that he overlooked the racial and cultural differences and helped.
There is a reason why Jesus presented the picture the way He did. The story didn’t show a Jew helping a fellow Jew or a Samaritan helping a fellow Samaritan. That kind of help would have been good. However, we all know that it is easy for us to help those we love and those who identify with what we identify with. It is more difficult to love those who are different from us.
It breaks my heart whenever i hear fellow believers tearing down people of other faiths and wishing them doom because of something that someone else who identifies with that faith did. This is one concept i can never understand with believers. One minute we are talking about how we should represent Christ and the next minute our words are like daggers piercing into the hearts of certain races, cultures, or faiths as we spit dooms and wish evil to befall an entire people. I cannot comprehend it.
We cannot love others if we don’t see them as persons also created in God’s image and likeness. As believers, we are to treat each other as fellow humans; not as objects.
From the illustration, we learn 3 principles about loving our neighbour.
Lack of love is often easy to justify, even though it is never right.
Our neighbour is anyone of any race, creed, social background.
Love is an act.
If we keep saying “God knows in my heart that i love that person” without showing actions of love to that person, we simply do not love that person. Love cannot be hidden. It is shown. It is active. If you love someone, you show up for that person. You help, you support and you stand by that person.
Jesus gave this parable by using a needy person as a case study. We are surrounded by needy people. The needs varies from financial needs, emotional needs, spiritual needs to physical needs. There is no good reason for refusing to help someone in need. We might not be able to offer money always. But we should be able to offer a phone call, send text message, pray and encourage. If we are able to offer financial support and we withhold that help and only offer prayers, that isn’t good enough either.
This parable made me start reviewing how i am being of help especially in this season where we don’t really have to go searching for who to help. Many people have lost their jobs due to the current pandemic. Some have jobs, but have been thrown into the role of babysitting, teaching and working simultaneously. Some are sick. Some are unable to go out due to self isolation. Many have what they need but they are afraid.
Our neighbours need help. They need food, prayers, assurance and encouragement. Let’s be a good Samaritan to them.
If you would like to read previous parables, please click here.