#Biblical Reflection


Jul 27, 2022, 12:56 PM | Article By: Guest writer Mr. Sammy Davis

“You go then and do likewise!” Luke 10:37

This parable of the Good Samaritan is quite an imposing story. Jesus ends it by challenging the scholar to ‘Go and do likewise!’

Trying to get a firm grasp or understanding of the meaning of the word ‘neighbour’, the scholar questioned Jesus and the whole thing ended up with a simple command from Him – “Go and do likewise.”

This interesting short story is one of the last known parables of Jesus and one which has tremendous influences on human life and behaviour. Yet, it was given as a result of a tricky question. Let us reflect on the story that was told by Jesus, and think back on our own journey, When have we been the one who was hurt? When have we been the priest or Levite? When have we been the Samaritan? So let us go through a period of reflection.

The questioner was a certain lawyer, and he probably would have been known for asking awkward questions. The question that was addressed to Jesus was the same that was asked by the rich man in Mark 10:17 and it would appear to be a standard question. The lawyer was really asking Jesus which rules he should keep most strictly if he was to gain a reward in some fruitful life. The question also had a standard answer and the lawyer probably wanted to know whether Jesus agreed with this idea. He knew what he thought was the answer but he might had wanted to start some kind of moral argument.   

Jesus very cleverly turned the question back on to the lawyer as if to say, ‘You are the expert; you tell us what the answer is.’ The man would have looked foolish if he, a lawyer, could not quote correctly from the Law. The lawyer sourced his answer from Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and 11:12. “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and strength;” and also from Leviticus 19:18: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”

Jesus then told the lawyer – “That is right. Do that and you will live!” The lawyer was determined not to let the argument end so quickly, so he asked Jesus – “And who is my neighbour?” According to Jewish Law, one’s neighbour was a fellow Jew, and no one else.

We are told by Luke that the lawyer wanted to justify his answer as most probably also his attitude. This was why he asked Jesus who his neighbour was. And from this we can gather that the lawyer needed some guidelines. The lawyer no doubt saw easily his peers and high religious leaders as neighbours just as we too can easily picture our friends and family. But Jesus had a different picture in mind. What Jesus was essentially saying, ‘picture the poor, the oppressed, the weak and the marginalised’.

After the lawyer had posed his final question, Jesus did not get into a lecture on race relations, but instead he told him a simple story; a parable. Parables in Jesus’ days left the listener pondering over the meaning and in doing so, they often found out the answer to the problem themselves. The parable was not only a parable, but it represented a pattern of behaviour.

It was a story about four travellers journeying from Jerusalem to Jericho – a distance of approximately 30 kilometres. The road was rough, stony and very steep. Jerusalem being about 760 metres above sea level, while Jericho is about 250 metres below sea level. From these descriptions, we can surmise that the journey on this road must be lonely and dangerous and thieves were always around committing havoc.

As we go over this parable in our minds, let us examine the four characters who travelled this road. The victim: He probably was a businessman from Jerusalem who was carrying money or valuables of some sort and riding an animal. The thieves (bandits) beat him up, took everything he had and left him half-dead. However, aware of the dangers, wasn’t he running a risk? Shouldn’t he have taken more care about his safety? Wasn’t he not courting trouble?

The priest: He was the representative of religion - the man who should have helped someone in need. So why didn’t he? There are several possible reasons: a] He was in a hurry to get to Jericho. He felt sorry but did not want to be delayed, so he shifted the responsibility to someone else. b] He did not want to get himself involved in something nasty and unpleasant. It was just another example of crime and violence. c] He may have thought it was a trip, his friends were laying in wait for another victim.  d] Perhaps to have touched a dead body would have made him unclean.

The Levite: He was an assistant priest. Why did he just pass by? Here are a few suggestions. a] Assuming he was going in the same direction as the priest, perhaps he was in a hurry to catch up with a colleaguet to discuss some important matters. b] Probably the state of the man who was beaten up gave him a sick feeling. He wanted to help, but could not stand the sight of blood. c] He might have been concentrating very hard on his synagogue sermon that he did not really take notice of the man. d] He might have recognised the man as an unpopular person in Jerusalem, perhaps a rogue or a cheat, so he thought to himself – ‘Sorry sir, but it serves you right!’

The Samaritan: He showed concern far more than duty demanded. He did not only care, he broke through the barriers of race and religion. He was the one who could have passed by according to the rules, but he gave his time and money; used his precious oil and offered to pay the inn keeper any further costs on his return journey.  As a foreigner, the Samaritan did what was extraordinary. He had no hesitations, but only showed sympathy. 

                     [The rest of this article will be continued next week]


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