The Good Samaritan is probably one of the best known parables of the bible and defines Christian action, but do we truly understand it and live it?
One thing that we miss in this story is the significance of the acts of the priest and the Levite. We see their behaviour as unacceptable, but why? The Jewish people had a cleanliness law that was given by law. Those unclean could not do anything in the temple if they were ritually unclean.
If either the priest or the Levite had gone near or touched the man they would have been ritually unclean and could not do their service in the temple. Is it wrong for them to put their service to God, and God’s people, before their service to this stranger on the road?
The Samaritan had no such limitations on his life and actions. It cost him nothing to help the stranger.
Jesus does not ask who was right or wrong, he asks who was a neighbour to this man. The Samaritan had treated the strange as he would want to be treated.
The Priest and the Levite had not been a neighbour to the stranger, but were they a neighbour to the people of the temple? Did they do right in God’s eyes? We do not know, and I do not think we are meant to.
Jesus was not talking about wrong and right, but about who is a neighbour. Is it the person who lives next door? The person in your street? Is it someone who believes what you believe? The answer in the story is that is everyone.
How do we inherit the kingdom? …’“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, “Love your neighbour as yourself.”’ (v27).
How do we do this? The listeners were expected to live it on their own, to be obedient, but that is not how we do it. As Christians we do it by:
– believing and accepting the love of God in Christ
– opening ourselves to be filled and lead by the Holy Spirit
We are not meant to do it on our own, that is the blessing of our faith. It is the fulfilling of our relationship with God.