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Understanding The Parable Of The Good Samaritan
The parable of the Good Samaritan is one of the most well-known parables told by Jesus. It is also one of the most misunderstood parables, which is why we will be discussing it in detail here.
Parables were a type of storytelling used by Jesus to convey a message. In contrast to tales that had a beginning, middle, and end with a moral or point, parables often had no moral or point and were more like anecdotes.
They were set in a specific context and featured characters with names that may have been symbolic or literal. Most importantly, they involved some sort of struggle or journey.
In the Good Samaritan parable, the road was the journey one took to go from Jerusalem to Jericho, and the man who beat him up was an enemy soldier he had encountered on this journey. The priest and Levite were other people who could have helped him but did not due to their lack of concern for others.
The intersection of mercy
A key element of the parable of the Good Samaritan is that the man was left on the road at an intersection. Intersections can refer to many things, but in this case, it refers to several factors that led to this man being left on the road.
The man was attacked along the path that leads to the city of Jericho. This means that he was traveling from somewhere else and happened across this attack. He was probably traveling late at night which would explain why he came across the other man who was lying in the middle of the road.
He was a priest which means he had a strict set of rules and regulations that he needed to follow. One of these rules would have been not to enter into contact with a dead body or someone who is not spiritually clean. This may have been due to an ancient practice of keeping people safe from getting sick due to coming into contact with sick people or corpses.
The parable tells us that he did not pass by because he was busy, nor did he pass by because he did not care.
The man fallen on the road
One of the most common misinterpretations of this parable is that we are called to help every person we meet who needs help. While this may be a good idea, it is not what the parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us.
The man who was fallen on the road was a Jew. As a Jew, he would have known about God and his laws. He would have also have had knowledge of who was a Samaritan and who was not.
Knowing this, we can see that the man on the road was not in need of spiritual help. He did not ask for it, nor did he receive it. The priest and the Levite did not help him because they realized he did not need their help.
The problem was that he did not recognize his need for physical help.
The priest and the Levite
In Jesus’ day, the Jewish nation had a hierarchy that people referred to as the “three estates.” These were the priest, the Levite, and the common man.
Priests were considered the highest of the clergy. They presided over religious ceremonies in the Temple and received a large portion of the sacrifices offered there.
Levites were members of Aaron’s family who did not inherit any of his other responsibilities, such as serving in the Temple or leading religious services. Instead, they served as priests and received no inheritance.
Because of their lack of inheritance and their service to God in a temple, many scholars believe that “the priest” and “the Levite” mentioned in this parable refer to these two groups within Jewish society.
Both of these groups declined to help this man because they assumed he was an outsider and didn’t recognize him or his god.
Who is the Good Samaritan?
“Good Samaritan” is a title given to anyone who offers assistance to those in need. This can be in the form of money, food, shelter, or direct help. The important part is that it is offered with no expectation of return.
The parable of the Good Samaritan is one where the main character is not named, thus allowing anyone to identify with him. He is simply called the “Good Samaritan.”
Jesus used this parable to teach about the nature of true faith and love. To understand the parable fully, one must first understand what “passing by” means.
Passing by someone or something means to ignore them or them them. It shows a lack of compassion and/or indifference towards someone or something.
He is a neighbor
The parable of the Good Samaritan is about love for our neighbors. We are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves. Love for our neighbors comes from the love for ourselves.
We are made in the image of God, made to enjoy and experience life, to enjoy God and to enjoy others who also enjoy God and each other.
We are meant to be happy, but only in a certain way: by being like God, who is totally holy and totally happy. Only he can make us truly happy.
But we can’t make each other unhappier than we were made by God. We can’t make each other as unhappy as we were made by God. We have no power over that! No one does but God. He is the only one who can make us spiritually healthy.
He is compassionate
The Samaritan was a man who lived in the same time and region as the man who was left on the road to die. He was not of the same race or religion, but that did not matter.
The Samaritan had compassion for the man and his need to help him. This is an important element of the parable, that he was a passing stranger who offered help.
The priest and Levite were men of faith who served in their respective roles. They did what they could do within their own circles, but could not go beyond that due to rules or exhaustion.
This is why they did not stop to help him- they could not offer him help that he would accept, so he did not stop. The parable emphasizes that even people of faith can fall short in their duty to help others. Only the Samaritan had true compassion for the man on the road.
He makes time and sees need
The Samaritan makes time to help others who need it. He does not pass by the man on the road, ignoring his need.
He does not rush past him, offering only a word or two of encouragement. He engages with the man in need and helps him in whatever way he needs help.
The Samaritan did not ask how he could help him get to the next town or how much money he needed to move on with his life. The Samaritan did not ask him his religion or whether he was a good person or not. The Samaritan made time to simply help this man in need.
This is something we can learn from this parable: we should make time to simply help those who are in need. We do not have to ask questions first or make conditions before we assist them.
He meets need with resources available to him
A key element of the parable of the Good Samaritan is that the priest and Levite pass by the man on the road, but the Samaritan not only stops to meet his need, but also provides resources to meet that need.
Many people read this parable and think that the point is that we should stop to help everyone who needs help, regardless of whether they believe in God or not. While this is a good lesson, it is not the main point of this parable.
The main point is that we should meet someone’s physical or spiritual need with what we have available to us. In other words, if you do not have money to give someone, then give them something else that will help them (such as time or food).
This lesson comes from God himself, and he wants us to learn it so that we can be like him. He gives us what we need when we need it, but he also wants us to be giving and helping others.