Episode 4 – Practicing “Love Your Neighbor”

The story in Episode 3 above seems to go out of its way to point out that a Samaritan was the only leper among ten to show gratitude to Jesus for healing.  The story in this episode similarly adds what might seem to be an unnecessary detail about a Samaritan.  The story is the familiar parable of “The Good Samaritan” found in Luke 10:30-37.

Again, Luke wrote the story about one of Jesus’ teaching experiences.  It begins in Luke 10:25 where a Jewish “expert in the Law” asked Jesus a test question, possibly to find out how much Jesus really knew.  Jesus, knowing what the “expert” was up to, responded with a question, to get the man to tell what he knew about the Law (26).  The man’s answer, quoting the law of love, was correct (27-28), so Jesus told him to put it into practice.  But the “expert” wasn’t through.  He asked (29), “who is my neighbor?”

Jesus proceeded to tell the story about a traveler who was mugged by robbers and left lying on the side of the road.  A Jewish Priest, a man of God and notable religious leader, saw the injured man but passed by without stopping.  Next a Levite, another recognized Jewish religious person whose full time job was to minister in service to God, did the same, passing by without stopping.  Finally, a Samaritan came.  This man, member of a hostile race and competitive religion to Jews, compassionately turned toward the injured man, giving medical treatment to his wounds, transporting him out of the way to receive further care, and paying the full expense (30-35). 

Did it matter to the story the identifications of each of those who accosted the injured man?    Not unless Jesus wanted to point out to self-respecting, self-righteous Jews something that they did not understand about what matters to God and humanity – something that a Samaritan understood.  This “enemy” considered meeting a human need more important than his time, his money, and his cultural-religious views.

Jesus told this story so that his followers would look past race, religion, and personal interests to put into practice the intent of the law of love.  Herein is a strong message to all of us who consider ourselves basically good people in a world of the bad.  It is Jesus who defines what is good and what is bad, and being uncaring toward the needy, being racists, being religious bigots is anything but good!