Summary: A man travels from Jerusalem to Jericho, a distance of about 20 miles and is beaten up. -Luke 10: 30 it is a dangerous road and is known as "The Way of Blood"
THE GOOD SAMARITAN—Luke 10:25-37
The Good Samaritan’ is one of the better-known parables, (Luke 10:30-37) In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of 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. 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, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins 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.’ 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”
Even hospitals and charity organisations have been named after this story. In America, "Good Samaritan" laws have been passed to encourage passers-by to help those in need.
With a little knowledge it would be quite easy to draw an allegorical interpretation to this parable; for example. We could say that traveller represents man, who has left the heavenly city (Jerusalem) for the worldly one (Jericho). The robbers could represent the devil and sin, which leave man dying in sin We could also say that the priest and the Levite refer to the Law and its sacrifices, which are unable to help, the good Samaritan is Jesus, who provides the help needed, the wine represents the blood of Christ; the oil, the anointing of the Holy Spirit, the inn is the church, the inn-keeper is representative of the apostles and the two coins represent baptism and the Lord’s Supper...
All this is quite interesting and we must remember it is only an interpretation of the parable that fits comfortably in our mind.
But is it really what Jesus is teaching in this parable? Or does Jesus have some other lesson that He wants us to glean from it? Things that I believe are more in keeping with his original purpose for telling it.
THE PARABLE AND ITS SETTING
Luke 10:25-29 on one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 26 "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?" 27 He 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 neighbour as yourself ’ "28 "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied, "Do this and you will live. "29 But he wanted to justify himself so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbour?"
A lawyer stands up to "test" Jesus - A "lawyer" in this context would be one well versed in the Law of Moses and the word "test" was not to ascertain Jesus’ ability but more His faithfulness to the Law. He was however trying to trick Jesus and there is no doubt that he was also trying to draw attention to himself as later he tried to justify himself with another question; implying he was interested in more than just a simple answer to his question. His question was similar to that asked by the rich young ruler Luke 18:18: A certain ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
Jesus answers the question by pointing him back to the Law - Luke 10:26 and in so doing, Jesus shows His own confidence in the Law. In a similar manner Jesus pointed the rich young ruler to the Law - Luke 18:20 you know the commandments: ’Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steel, do not give false testimony, honour your father and mother” We need to keep in mind that at this time the Law was still in force, so the answer was still to be found in it - Mt 5:17-19 ’~Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished 19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. The lawyer replies with a proper understanding of what the Law taught concerning eternal life - Luke 10:27-28 and he quotes from Deut 6:5 and Lev’ 19:18 [both of which Jesus quoted to another lawyer on a later occasion - Mt 22:34-40