Summary: The first person to which we are introduced is the poor traveller. He had taken the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, which was notoriously dangerous. It descended nearly 3,300 feet in 17 miles, running through narrow passes at points.
SERMON—THE GOOD SAMARITAN—Luke 10: 25-37
The Good Samaritan.
Familiar story. One researcher found in a survey that 49% of the people interviewed said they would be able to tell the story of the Good Samaritan if asked to do so, 45% said they would not be able to, and 6% were unsure whether they could tell it or not. Among those who attended religious services every week, the proportion that thought they could tell the story rose to 69% percent
But whether or not one could accurately retell this parable, the concept of the "Good Samaritan" is familiar enough to everyone. We name hospitals, churches, and institutions in his honour. Most people know a ’Good Samaritan’ when they see one...Mother Teresa, Albert Schweitzer, the fire brigade and even that anonymous person that simply stops to change a flat tyre for you or helps a blind person cross the street, yes we have all met one or have heard of one even if we cant relate the full details of the story.
In the story of the Good Samaritan Luke 10:25-37 we are immediately introduced to a lawyer, he poses a question to Jesus as a "test" - "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus answers this question with one of His own. "What is written in the law? What do you read there?"
The answer comes back, "You shall 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 your neighbour as yourself." Good answer. And Jesus agrees. But the lawyer not satisfied with that, still wishes to be noticed, so he asks another question "And who is my neighbour?" In other words, "OK, Jesus, I understand I am supposed to CARE, but what are the limits of my caring? When can I quit?"
And here Jesus tells His famous story.
The first person to which we are introduced is the poor traveller. He had taken the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, which was notoriously dangerous. It descended nearly 3,300 feet in 17 miles, running through narrow passes at points. The terrain offered easy hiding for the bandits who terrorized travellers. This unfortunate man had been stripped, beaten, and left for dead. Jesus’ audience that day knew how easily it could happen and I would suspect that we Jesus audience today could easily identify by glancing quickly through the newspapers or watching the news on television.
Suddenly who should come along but a priest? If anyone could be expected to stop and help it would be a priest. But wait. The priest does not come over to help; he is passes by on the other side. No reason is given. Perhaps it was fear. Those who beat the man in the ditch might be lying in wait to beat him as well. Have you ever come upon someone after an ugly accident? And simply passed by for fear of becoming involved." Some hero!
[It is worth noting that if a priest found a body on their journey they had a duty to bury it] Next there came a Levite...an "assistant" priest. As the text has it, "he came to the place and saw him, [and] passed by on the other side." Another hero!
Enter character number three - a Samaritan. The GOOD Samaritan! Nowhere in the Bible will we find the words "Good" and "Samaritan" next to each other. For those folks who first heard this story, the phrase "Good Samaritan" would have been an oxymoron, (oxymoron is the putting together of words which seem to contradict each other) anyway - the only GOOD Samaritan would have been a DEAD Samaritan.
Why such depth of feeling? The hostility between Jews and Samaritans was hundreds of years old. It went back to the time of the division of the nation into the Northern and Southern kingdoms - Samaria came to be identified with the North and Judea with the South. Following the Northern Kingdom’s fall to Assyria in 721 BC, exiles from many nations settled in Samaria, creating something of a melting pot, no longer was it purely Jewish. Move forward a hundred years or so. Now it is the turn of the Southern Kingdom to fall - this time the conqueror was Babylon, and, as was the custom of the day, the people were carried off into exile to prevent any uprisings in the occupied territory. The few Jews left in Samaria were considered no threat in that regard, so they were left in Palestine. Seventy years passed, and the exiles were allowed to return. The Samaritans were ready to welcome them back, but the returnees would have none of it - Samaritans had intermarried with gentiles making them "half-breeds." They had perverted the race. The Samaritans had also perverted the religion. They looked to Mt. Gerizim in their own land as the place to worship God, not Jerusalem. They interpreted the Torah differently than the southern