The Good Samaritan

Title: The Good Samaritan

Bible Book: Luke 10 : 25-37

Author: Dennis M. Davidson

Subject: Good Samaritan; Compassion; Christian Living



See also 1 John 3:18.

Few people really understand US Internal Revenue Service income tax regulations and for good reason. According to Forbes magazine, in 2013 tax codes surpassed four million word mark. In fact, the tax codes have become so complex that even the experts have a hard time processing all the regulations. It is burdensome in its complexity.

The leaders in ancient Israel did the same thing to their religious system. They made excessive laws to govern man’s relationship with God. The growing burden of religious regulations had increase to the point where even experts in the law struggled to understand it at its core. When one such legal expert asked Jesus what matter most? Jesus affirmed that, “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 neighbor as yourself”(10:27). From the lawyer’s question about who is his neighbor comes the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Of all the many parables that Jesus told, the parable of the Good Samaritan is one of the best known and most loved. This is partly because it is very much a human interest story and is painted in vivid colors. It is a story that will live forever.

This parable Jesus told is about a man who stopped to help another. A man had been ambushed, stripped, robbed, and left for dead. Others had hurried by, too busy with their own affairs to be interrupted. Then a Samaritan on his way down to Jericho encountered the wounded Jew lying alongside the road. The Samaritan, who was hated by the Jews, would be expected to pass by, but he "had compassion."

No thoughtful person can read this parable without asking himself, "Which person am I most like-the priest, the Levite, or the good Samaritan?" The concluding statement: “Go, and do thou likewise” hits us right in the gut with that challenge. We are forced to stop and think, make a personal assessment of our attitudes and actions toward needy humanity, and do something about it. We cannot be neutral or negligent. We must come out and measure up to Jesus' demands if we are going to meet His approval. The parable confronts us with the demand to make a decision concerning the command just give by Jesus. Are we, or are we not, going to love our neighbor as our self (CIT)?


In verse 29 this self-justifying lawyer [with excellent religious instruction,] wanted to know how inclusive the love of God demanding us to be. “But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

This question was asked Jesus by the legal expert [one who spe­cialized in the interpretation and application of the more than 600 commandments of the Old Testament] is in response to Jesus' affirmation that the greatest commandments of the law were, first, to love God, and second, to “love thy neighbor as thyself” (Luke 10:27; Matthew 22:39).

Implicit in this question is the desire to limit who could be considered one’s neighbor. The Lord Jesus answered this question by telling the famous story of the good Samaritan, which concludes with the proverb, "Go, and do thou likewise" (Luke 10:37).


So Jesus answered him with a parable about a man who stopped to help another. We find in verse 30 a man who had been ambushed, stripped, robbed, and left for dead. ‘Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead.

Jesus describes a normal trip a person would take going through the mountainous pass that fell 3,300 feet along the 17 miles route from Jerusalem to Jericho. The road winded through many narrow passes and by many large rocks providing bandits many opportunities to prey on travelers. A gang of cutthroats “stripped him and beat him.” Robbers in the Middle East were known to beat their victims only if they resisted. It can be assumed that this fellow tried to keep what was rightfully his and consequently suffered a severe beating. The robbed Jew was also left naked and unconscious on the main business road from Jerusalem down to Jericho.

Fellow travelers soon happened upon the severely injured man. In verse 31 a priest happens upon the man. “And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

A priest [a decedent of Aaron] was the highest official in the Jewish religion. The priest hurriedly crosses to the other side of the road and continued on to his important business. The bleeding man may have looked dead but Rabbinical law required him to bury any corpse he found.

Similarly in verse 32 a Levite didn’t care about the dying man. “Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

Another potential source of aid is heading to Jericho to carry out business or ministry. Levites [decedents of Levi] carried out the more mundane tasks of religious worship and operation. This religious assistant or priest’s helper also saw the man, and passed by even crossing over to the other side also.

They were religious leaders; surely they'd have compassion on this wounded man. But perchance, both had important appointments to keep and didn't stop. No reason is given for why except that it is understood that neither had enough love for his dying neighbor. Is this waylaid, robbed and severely beaten Jew going to be left to die?


The clergy having failed the test, we next expect a layman instead in verse 33 we unexpectedly find a Samaritan, as the story explodes in the ears of those who have ears to hear. “But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion,”

A half-breed Samaritan made his way down to Jericho and also encountered the wounded Jew lying alongside the road. Others had hurried by, too busy with their own affairs to be interrupted.

A despised Samaritan who were hated by the Jews and would be expected to pass by, if not make things even worse. He too saw the hopeless afflicted man, but unlike those before him, he was filled with compassion. His compassion will cause him to perform six actions for severely injured man.

Compassion will rearrange your priorities! The Good Samaritan dismounted his animal and decided that where he was going wasn’t as important as where he was at that particular moment. An interruption may be a divine appointment.

[Jesus’ life was filled with examples of compassion (Mt. 9:36; 14:14; 15:32; 20:35; Mk. 1:41; 6:34; 8:2; Lk. 7:13). Compassion is Jesus’ response to the extreme need of others.] God's will comes to us in strange ways, often in the form of interrup­tions. Just when we think our duties are done for the day and we've settled in for a quiet evening at home, some­one calls on the telephone or shows up on our doorstep asking for our time. "Are you busy?" they ask.

The right thing to do is to look at these intrusions as divine interruptions. We should take them as opportuni­ties that God is sending us to serve those in need. To listen to them, to see the real need, to show love, and to help them on their journey toward inti­macy with God.

One early Christian writer, Jean-Pierre de Caussade, said, "Love is the duty of the present moment." No matter what else we may have planned, love is our duty.

MACHINISTS have a strict set of rules for machining their products. In one machine shop a lathe was turning out camshafts. The finished machining had to be exactly correct. One of the notes on the lathe read, "Remember that the warmth of the hand will change the diameter of the shaft." The machinist working at lathe carves out a large engine shaft which must be perfectly measured for an airplane engine is reminded that the warmth of his hand will change the diameter of the shaft.

If the warmth of your hand changes the diameter of cold metal, think how it will change a heart, perhaps a heart that is discouraged, sorrowful, or lost!

In verse 34 the compassionate man pulled the man out of the ditch and restored the dying man to life. 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.

The Samaritan’s compassion is demonstrated in the first aid he rendered then in transporting the severely injured man to a place where he could better care for Him. So he “band­aged his wounds, . . . set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.” His compassion was translated into action. He medicated and bandaged the man's wounds, took him to an inn, cared for him while he could. He used all resources available to him.

God places severely beaten people in front of those with eyes to see. Some of them are desperately lonely. Some feel rejected. Some are discouraged. Some worry about persons they love. Some resent circumstances which interfere with their personal ambitions. Some are angry at the world. Some have physical handicap. Some people who hurt are decent upright, conscientious, hard working; others are considerably less than worthy. Some are from one cultural group or educational level; some are from other groups. Human hurts knows nothing of such distinctions.

Most people feel compassion for selected individuals. Some, in the spirit of Christ, are touched by the needs of others whenever they encounter it. Some actually feel the pain of other people and try to relieve it.

What does compassion cost? It takes its toll on one's emotions. It drains one's energies because it forces one to act to help the sufferer. It costs time. It costs making our self vulnerable to the distresses another.

Obvious such actions will not be easy, but if it was easy everyone would demonstrate compassion. We must pray for the spiritual strength necessary for giving help to the distressed persons around you.

In verse 35 the Samaritan covers the man’s expenses for that week. “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.’

The Good Samaritan gave the innkeeper sufficient money [two days labor] to provide care for the recovering traveler for several days [½ denarii per day] and then promised the innkeeper he would return to pay any additional expenses. Charge it to me not to the beaten and broken man.

There are people around us who are suffering. Moved with compassion for their pain, let's be those who stop to help. Compassion is always active.

WILLIAM JENNINGS BRYAN made his famous "cross of gold" speech at the 1896 Democratic convention in Chicago. As a result of his stirring oration he won his party's nomination for the presidency of the United States. The convention gave him an opportunity, and he made the most of it. Later he observed that that's about all we do in life, use or lose our opportunities.

Both the priest and Levite had opportunities to serve. Yet, given the chance to put their faith into action, they failed. They had their reasons, refusing to love always does.

We, too, regularly have similar opportunities before us. It may be a question someone asks, the doubt he expresses, the loss he suffers, the gain he makes. It may be in ministering to a physical need. The question is not will I have opportunities to serve? but, What will I do when they come? Will I be ready to do my best when called on? Will I be like the priest and Levite who looked and left; or like the Samaritan who saw and served?

Who in our "neighborhood" needs a kind word, an arm of friendship, or an act of encouragement? Jesus calls us to show love and compassion to others as we love God with all our heart, and our neighbor as ourselves. Remember, your love for your neighbor is proof of your love for God.


Jesus then asked the lawyer the obvious question of who proved to be a neighbor to the man in need in verse 36. “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?”

The answer is obvious, isn’t it? The costly demonstration of love made the Samaritan the loving neighbor. The wounded man would never be the same again because of the love he received in his great need.

What would you have done that day? Do you think you'd have acted like this Samaritan? How about when God tries to interrupt your inflexible, tightly organized [written­ in-concrete] schedule and asks you to take time for someone who’s hurting? Are you willing to shelve your personal agenda and help? If you are too busy to reach out to those who hurting, you're just too busy! Ask God to help you begin thinking and acting like Christ, and don’t miss another opportunity to serve Him by helping, by offering costly serve to someone else.

A young woman BACKPACKING in Colorado encountered another woman hobbling down a mountain trail. On one foot she wore an impro­vised shoe made of green twigs wrapped with a strip of cloth. "Lost one boot crossing a stream," she explained. "Hope I can get dawn the mountain before dark."

The first hiker reached into her own pack and taking out a spare sandal. "Wear this," she said. "You can mail it to me when you get home."

The woman gratefully accepted the sandal and set off down the trail. A few days later the sandal arrived in the mail with a note saying: "I passed several people who noticed my predicament, but you’re the only one who offered any help. It made all the difference. Thanks far sharing your sandal with me."

The Bible says love can be seen and touched-it's tangi­ble. It may be as-big-as injured man or as small as a cup of cold water given in Jesus' name (Mt. 10:42). You may give without loving, but you can't love without giving.

Real love takes action. The Bible says, "Let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth" (1 Jn. 3:18). On the trail of life, when we meet a hobbler, let's offer a sandal in love. [DCM. Our Daily Bread]

In verse 37 the lawyer gave the only credible answer. And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”

The Lawyer states that the man who had mercy was the one who proved to be a real neighbor in the household of faith. To love God (v. 27) is to show love to your neighbor. “Who is my neighbor?" Jesus answers, "The person in desperate need I'm placing in your path.”

From this parable are derived several important principles concerning neighbors and what it means to love them. Obviously a neighbor is not necessarily someone whose home is near ours, or even one who is an acquaintance. The Samaritan had never met the traveler who had been robbed and wounded, nor was he even a fellow countryman.

However, there were three criteria which, in the mind of Christ, did make him a neighbor: (1) he was someone whose path had crossed that of the Samaritan; (2) he had a real need; and (3) the Samaritan had the ability to meet that need. Since all three criteria were satisfied, then there was such an obligation, and the Lord has told us to do likewise.

It is with such action that we love our neighbor in the same way we love ourselves. It is doing what we would want to have done for us, if the roles were reversed. However, there is still something more to it than that. The "love" of which the Lord spoke here is the well-known agape love, which describes an unselfish love--one which serves the best interests of the recipient without regard to any benefit for the one who loves. In the highest sense, therefore, a genuine love for one's neighbor would mean seeking the will of God in and for the one who is loved. [HMM]

Irony is intended by Jesus as he asks the Jewish lawyer to follow the example of the Good Samaritan. “Go and do the same” means live a life of compassion particularly toward the hurting I place in your path. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus promised God mercy to those who show mercy (Matthew 5:7). As we move through life we are challenged to respond to the hurts of people. We can show them Christ’s love or be indifferent to them. How will you respond to those God puts in your way?


A Jewish priest and a temple assistant saw the man, and crossed over to the other side. Are you too busy to care about the needs of others? Are you so preoccupied being good [or right] instead of doing good, that you're missing opportunities right that God places right in your path? Remember, nobody was busier than Jesus, yet He always responded to those in need.

The parable of the Good Samaritan confronts us with three philosophies of life. The outlook of the thieves was: "What's yours is mine, and I'll take it." That of the priest and the Levite was "What's mine is mine, and I'll keep it." That of the Good Samaritan was "What's mine is God’s, and I'll share it. We have put these three in briefer words: (1) "Beat him up"; (2) "Pass him up"; (3) "Pick him up."

What is our philosophy of life? Probably no one here would live according to the first prin­ciple. We would not grab what belongs rightfully to someone else, but do we in any way practice the second princi­ple? Are we unconcerned about the needs of others? Do we hold on to what we have and fail to share it? The chal­lenge to be compassionate is ours!

Invitation: “Make Me a Bless” “Give as 'twas given to you in your need, Love as the Master loved you; Be to the helpless a helper indeed, Unto your mission be true.” -Wilson


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