PARABLES - The Good Samaritan - LOVE OTHERS
The "Good Samaritan" parable can be broken down into two main points: number one being the most important: LOVE GOD. The second is "The Golden Rule" (love your neighbor as yourself). Today we will be studying in depth "The Golden Rule".
Let's start by studying a little history - Who was a "Levite" and a who was a "Samaritan"? I must admit that my Old Testament knowledge is terrible - which is why I did not know this & had to do some research myself. (Most of the following information defining Samaritan and Levite is from "Wikipedia").
Levite - is a member of the Hebrew tribe of Levi. Both Moses & Aaron were Levites. The Levites were not allowed to be land owners after Joshua led the Israelites into the land of Canaan because God Himself was/(is) their inheritance (taken from Deuteronomy 18:2). They had a few specific responsibilities like reading the Torah in the synagogue and then other political responsibilities.
Samaritan - is an "ethno-religious" group closely related to Judaism. The Samaritans believed that their religion was the true religion of the Israelites - they also believe that Judaism has been altered from the truth. The Jewish & Samaritan people despised each other. (on an interesting side note - there is thought to only be 751 Samaritans alive in the world today).
Getting back to the verses that we are studying today.
The first person to pass this poor stranger who had been beaten up was a priest. When we hear "priest" we think of someone who lives by what is right & wrong - and that he thinks in terms of "black & white" - ignoring the "gray" areas. By crossing to the other side this priest had passed judgment on the stranger deeming it wrong to stop and help.
The second person to pass by the stranger was the Levite. Above we learned that a Levite was a religious & political person - in my view these are 2 perfect reasons why he SHOULD have stopped instead of crossing to the other side. Maybe he was thinking that if he had stopped the media would have twisted the story making him out to be one of the robbers instead of the person who helped (Forgive me if there is any media person reading this right now - this of course is me putting a modern twist on the parable).
Now the final person in this parable is the Samaritan - the person who stopped & helped.
Let's put what the Samaritan did into modern terms:
1. "He saw & took pity on him" - that's compassion and a mental decision to help.
2. "He went to him & bandaged his wounds" - a physical action plus his own personal time that he used to help has a monetary value (in modern terms - time is money). Also a modern concern for his own personal safety - what kind of viruses or bacteria was this injured man carrying? - was he contagious?
3. "He put the man on his own donkey" - that's helping the stranger into his own personal car (gas being used & most likely blood stains on the car upholstery) (sorry to be vivid - but it is truthful).
4. "He took him to an inn & took care of him" - literally speaking let's just say that he took him to a hotel - paid for a room & stayed there to take care of him (that's money & time spent).
5. "The next day he took two silver coins & gave them to the inn keeper..to take care of the stranger.." - I know from experience the cost of a caregiver who comes into your home - an "unlicensed" caregiver will cost $10 an hour (a licensed is $20+ an hour) - we're talking a good amount of money here!
Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that you should spend your children's college fund on a neighbor in need - I just wanted to put this parable into a modern perspective.
Jesus said "Go and do likewise" - do like the Samaritan did. Helping a neighbor doesn't literally mean helping someone who has been beaten - it could mean helping an elderly lady who lives down the street who you've never met before but you know that she can't shovel her own sidewalk - you could shovel it for her with nothing expected in return. It could just mean calling for help on your own cell phone when you see someone is stranded on the side of a road - which means using your own cell minutes with no expectation of reimbursement for those minutes.
NOTE: I do want to add an important note - I know I said that we can't judge like the priest did in this parable but we must PAY ATTENTION TO THE URGINGS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. In our modern society there are dangerous people - if you are about to stop and help a stranger but suddenly get an inner feeling that danger is ahead - then Please Pay attention - that might be an urging from the Holy Spirit telling you NOT to stop. God will let you know when it's not right.
Helpful actions both small & large are actions of love - loving your neighbor as yourself -