In Luke chapter 10, we read the story of the good Samaritan. In this parable, Jesus pictured a man on the road to Jericho who had been robbed and left half dead by the roadside. The priest and the Levite passed him by without giving help, but the Samaritan, though despised by the Jews, rendered aid and took the wounded man to an inn, providing enough money for his future care. It was obvious who his neighbor was.
Our neighbor is any person, irrespective of race, color, or nationality. We show ourselves to be a good neighbor when we help those in need, as was this helpless, wounded man. While this is the dominant lesson which Jesus desired to teach, there are other lessons which should not escape our attention.
In this parable Jesus portrayed a world of which each of us are a part. He divides all men into four separate and distinct groups. He depicts four different types of character. We all belong to one group or the other. Let us ask ourselves the question, which of these characters describes us best?
The Hurt Man
The first character introduced is the hurt man. This is the man who had been so unfortunate as to fall among the thieves who wounded and robbed him. The world is full of hurt men. We all can be found in this situation. We could be healthy, wealthy, and wise and yet suddenly have all this taken away in an instance. Life has no guarantees when it comes to acts of violence. Whenever one finds themselves in this situation, we will accept help from anyone and are suddenly aware how fragile as human beings we truly are. It goes without saying, everyone wants a good Samaritan when they have been the victim of a violent act of any nature.
The second character which Jesus depicts in this parable are thieves. They are the ones who for a man’s clothes saw fit to do bodily damage and nearly kill a man. These must have been desperate men, greedy for what belonged to another, and willing to kill to obtain it. All kinds of men were like these men. They could be the ones who have little, and instead of working for their living will take a gun or a knife to the streets to attack innocent people and take by force to get what they want. They could be rich business owners who steal the wages from their employees in order to get more and more rich. Jam 5:1-6 They could be the ones who would deny health care to the poor in order to keep back higher profits. As we all know, there is more than one way to kill a man, and often the wealthy go undetected in these acts of violence upon the poor. Criminals who kill for their earthly gain care only for themselves, and no one else. They will kill by any means necessary.
The Unhelpful Men
The third character which Jesus describes in this parable are the unhelpful men. Both the priest and the Levite saw the wounded man, they recognized his need, and perhaps heard his cry for help, but they passed by on the other side. Both the priest and the Levite were religious men. They were supposedly God’s people. The priest wore the robe and officiated at the altar. The Levite belonged to the priestly tribe, but both failed to adorn their calling. We might expect the sinner to be unhelpful, but all expect God’s Children to do good works. In writing Christians, Paul said. “As we therefore have opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them which are of the household of faith.” (Gal 6:10) James said, “ What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he has faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be warmed and filled; notwithstanding you give them not those things which are needful to the body; what does it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yes, a man may say, You have faith, and I have works: show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. ” (Jam 2:14-17)
The Helpful Man
The fourth and final character which Jesus mentions is the helpful man. We remember him as the good Samaritan. He is the one that the world would least expect to be helpful. The Samaritans were half Jew and half Gentile, and were generally despised by both. Yet, this was the man who dismounted, rendered first aid, and nursed back to life the man who had been robbed and left to die. He was the good neighbor. All genuine Christians belong to the class represented by the good Samaritan. They are never too busy, no job is too big, and no task is too difficult if the need is genuine, for they stand ready to do what they can.
3 Different Philosophies
This parable sets forth three philosophies of life. The philosophy of the robber was: “What is thine is mine, I’ll take it.” The philosophy of the priest and Levite was: “What is mine is mine, I’ll keep it.” That of the Samaritan was: “What is mine is thine, let’s share it.” The question which needs to be asked of us today is: what is our philosophy of life? By which law do we live? Are we the good Samaritan or do we find ourselves in the shoes of one or the other two? Whenever we have the opportunity, let us be the Good Samaritan and reach out a helping hand to anyone who needs it. This is what it means to be a good neighbor. This is what it means to be a good Christian.