and the 'Good' Temple Priest
(or, “What WOULD a Samaritan Do?”)
Article by Judy Steers
Parable of the Good Samaritan
Luke 10: 25-37 (New American Standard translation)
A certain lawyer stood up and put Jesus to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” And he answered and said, “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.”
And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and your will live.” But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?
Jesus replied and said, “A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho; and he fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went off leaving him half dead.
And by chance a certain priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
But a certain Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him, and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
And on the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return, I will repay you.'
Jesus asked “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers' hands?” And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”
This is probably one of the most familiar stories in the Gospels. Even if people have never been in a church in their lives, they most likely know the reference, even if they don't know the story. It's pretty common to hear people talking about 'being a Good Samaritan' or perhaps they're aware of the Good Sam club. That is really ironic, considering the people who heard this story originally would not have thought you were a nice person if someone called you a Samaritan. You're a Samaritan? Eeuww!
I want to point out two characters in this story, and the twists that the story contains.
First off, this story could also be called The Surprising Samaritan. Jesus always seems to pick unlikely heroes in his stories. This would be a pretty difficult story to the people who first heard it. The Samaritans were more than just unpopular; they were wrong, ungodly, misguided and The Enemy in capital letters. Jesus offended the people he told this story to. It's not a nice story, nor very polite to the religious establishment.
If this story were told today, if you translate the story for yourself so that it is just as offensive, who might the story be about? Consider these questions: Who are the people whom you would consider unworthy of being a voice of God's providence, or a bearer of God's grace? Who exposes your religious hypocrisy? Who are the people whom you consider your enemy but who challenge you to re-think the way you see the world?
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