The good Samaritan
Being religiously clean and righteous in our own eyes, is very different to being truly righteous in the Father and the Messiahs eyes.
The Messiah often spoke in parables, telling a story to demonstrate a point that he was making. The parable of the good Samaritan is one of the best known parables quoted in and out of believers circles. But had you considered the powerful message in this parable?
The story is found in the Gospel of Luke (10:25-37), and it begins with a question posed by a lawyer who asks the Messiah:
Luke 10:25 And see, a certain one learned in the Torah stood up, trying Him, and saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit everlasting life?” 26 And He said to him, “What has been written in the Torah? How do you read it?” 27 And he answering, said, “ ‘You shall love Yahuah your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your being, and with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbour as yourself.’ ” 28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly. Do this and you shall live.”
Note that Rabbinic literature of the day made a clear distinction that your “neighbour” was only to include Israelites. The lawyer decided to try the Messiah further, but was probably unprepared for the parable that followed.The Messiah realised that the lawyer was concerned only with himself, he was focused on the wrong thing as were the pharisees who were undoubtedly present.
29 But he, wishing to declare himself righteous, said to the Messiah, “And who is my neighbour?”
The message of the parable is that our neighbor is anyone in need, regardless of their background or identity. The Samaritan (Jews and Samaritans did not like each other) was not expected to show kindness or compassion to a Israelite man, but demonstrated the true meaning of love and mercy, expected of all of us, by caring for the wounded man.
The lesson of the parable is dual, that is it shows that:
true compassion and love for others should override any religious or cultural differences or rules. It highlights the importance of helping those in need, regardless of who they are or where they come from.
religious practices alone are not enough, and that true faith is reflected in our attitudes and actions towards others.
This message is still as relevant today as when the Messiah said it nearly 2,000 years ago, as we continue to struggle with issues of prejudice and discrimination in our society and within the world. The parable of the Good Samaritan serves as a timely reminder that compassion and love should guide our interactions with others, regardless of our differences.
Parables are stories or situations designed to communicate a spiritual truth, religious principle, or moral lesson. They are a figure of speech in which truth is illustrated by a comparison with the audiences common experiences - that is, it can help people grasp abstract or complex concepts more easily. This parable clearly showed the hypocrisy of those learned in the law in placing adherence to the rules over the needs of people. This parable would have been far beyond what any Israelite would be comfortable with at the time and would certainly have stayed in peoples minds for some significant period.
Samaritans were the despised enemies of the Israelites. The fact that a Samaritan was the hero of the story would have been surprising and even shocking to the audience, as they would have expected a fellow Israelite to be the one to help the wounded man. The parable setting that a priest and a Levite passed by leaving someone to die on a road, but yet a despised Samaritan stopped to help would have caused significant internal challenge. Faith and obedience to the Torah was not reflected in the priest and levites attitudes and actions towards others, especially the marginalised and the suffering.
The parable identifies four key character types that are still relevant today:
The first type are those who have no concern for anyone else. These are the bullies in life, and those who do not care less about other living beings. They are the robber whose ethic suggest that “what is yours is mine at whatever the cost.” The robbers take whatever they want through violence, coercion, cunning, bad business practice and whatever means necessary. These are the people who will take advantage of you and leave you physically, mentally and emotionally beaten and bruised on life’s journey. They will even leave you for dead without a concern once they have got what they want. Many of you will unfortunately have suffered such events in your own lives from people who seek to rob you not just of money and possessions, but also joy, happiness, your life and ultimately your salvation. These people will scar you emotionally and physically and they will try to break your faith and testimony. What a strong weapon of our enemy to be aware of.
The second type is represented by the priest who live a life dedicated to the service of the temple. Priests are educated in the Scriptures and in the temple era presented sacrifices to Yahuah on behalf of the congregation, they were Levites and were also descendants of Aaron. They had detailed knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures and would be the last person who should know what the Scriptures require from true believers. We would now call them teachers, pastors, ministers perhaps even elders of churches and denominations.
But the priest, on seeing the victim, passed on the other side of the road and offered no help. The fact that the priest in the parable chose to ignore the wounded man on the road is indicative of his failure to live up to the teachings of the Scriptures, which emphasise the importance of helping those in need.
It is possible that the priest was picking and choosing which parts of Scripture he wanted to follow, and ignoring others that did not align with his personal beliefs or interests. This highlights the danger of selectively interpreting and applying religious teachings, as it can lead to hypocrisy and a failure to live up to the true message of the Scriptures.
Now I really have to wonder what the priest taught his congregation, as his selectivity on interpreting and applying the Torah would also have been present in his teaching and consequently in his congregation, and will probably be part of the doctrine he is adhering to.
The third type is represented by the Levite. A Levite is a member of the Israeli tribe of Levi, but they were not descendants of Aaron. Levites in the temple era performed work related to the temple such as teaching, singing psalms, and maintenance and work on the temple itself. I think that Levite is synonymous to believers today. But the Levite also did the same as the priest. On seeing the victim, he passed on the other side of the road and offered no help. The Levite also well knew what was right and what the Scriptures set out that he should do, but he also chose to not follow the Scriptures. The Levite was also picking and choosing what Scriptures he would follow.
But the Levite, on seeing the victim, also passed on the other side of the road and offered no help. The fact that the Levite did similar to the priest in the parable and chose to ignore the wounded man on the road is indicative of the lack of learning, knowledge of the Torah and perhaps exposure to false teaching. He also failed to live up to the teachings of the Scriptures, which emphasise the importance of helping those in need.
The Messiah called the priest and the Levite out as they were more concerned with their outward appearance of cleanliness than the actual condition of their own heart.
This was not a new criticism, the righteousness of the priest and the Levite was superficial, they were no better than the robber. At other times, the Messiah actively criticised the pharisees for only cleaning the outside of the cup but neglecting the inside (Matthew 23:25, Luke 11:39). The point the Messiah is making is that it’s the condition of your heart that matters (attitude). The priest and the Levite were portrayed as not having the right attitude.
In this parable, they both ignored the need of the injured person, the victim when he clearly needed even simple assistance. There is a spiritual lesson in this parable for us today, do we leave people for spiritual death?
The fourth type is the good Samaritan. Samaritans were despised by the Israelis who referred to them as “dogs” And yet this person recognised the victims needs, tended his wounds and even paid the cost of the mans care. He went well beyond simple care; he restored life and did not ask for recompense, he was truly "good" and lived on a much higher level than the previous two types who were religiously clean. The Samaritan being the “hero” that saved the man would certainly have been a very pointed jab at the lawyer and also at the pharisees. This parable must have been very challenging to the Israeli audience, as the Messiahs point was aimed directly at their religious leaders and rulers.
The lawyer and pharisees could not question the Messiah further, for fear that they will reveal themselves for what they are—unloving, self-seeking hypocrites. Being publicly silenced and humiliated by this parable probably only irritated them more. The commandment to care for strangers is mentioned more times than any other commandment in the Torah. Despite the Scriptural requirement, the priest and the Levite chose not to help the victim. But a despised person chose to help.
The point was well made, those that are more concerned with their outward appearance of cleanliness than the actual condition of their heart are not following the Scriptures and do not have a place in the new kingdom. To be truly righteous means more than not robbing people or just being righteously religious. To be truly righteous includes doing what the good Samaritan did.
The Messiahs statement to the pharisees in Luke 16:15 was well founded
Luke 16: 15 so He said to them, “You are those who declare yourselves righteous before men, but Elohim knows your hearts, because what is highly thought of among men is an abomination in the sight of Elohim.
The selfish action of the priest and Levite portrayed that they looked inwards at themselves and thought “If I help this man, what will happen to me”? The priest and the Levite were portrayed as selfishly ignoring the health and well-being of the victim despite what the Scriptures told them they should do. They were like a person who reads the Scriptures —but picks and chooses or twists the meaning to suit themselves. This is common in a number of doctrines.
The Samaritan, on the other hand, was portrayed as not looking selfishly at himself, but instead must have thought “If I do not help this man, what will happen to him.” The Samaritan focused on the needs of the victim above himself, he was a humble servant. His actions exemplify the attitude that the Messiah tried to instill into his people.
At times we all make errors of judgement, sometimes through pride, selfishness, lack of compassion, ambition, competition, lack of knowledge or fear. Errors in judgement can lead good and decent people to, at times, choose their own individual benefit over the health and well-being of their neighbours. But we should recognise when we are a risk of doing that and take appropriate action so that we follow the Torah and the Messiahs teaching.
In this single parable, the Messiah challenges our values, attitudes, faithfulness, understanding and pride. Driving in to us the key message that we need to focus on the needs of others, not just our own wants and needs, that is, for us to be humble and caring.
The need for selflessness, humbleness and service to others was discussed at the last supper when the Messiah washed the feet of his disciples. In John 13:13, the Messiah stated
John 13:13 “You call me Teacher and Master, and you say well, for I am. 14 “Then if I, Master and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 “For I gave you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 “Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is an emissary greater than he who sent him. 17 “If you know these teachings, blessed are you if you do them.
There may be many times in your lives when you come across people who have been bullied, hurt, or were in dire physical or spiritual need. How we react to such an encounter is a good indicator of our standing and obedience to the Father and the Messiah. How did you react? Did you choose what part of the Scriptures you would follow, or did you walk past? I observe that there are many non-denominational assistance organisations, but few denominations that are prepared to selflessly help people in need. This is a reflection on the teaching within denominations and the doctrines they follow, where non believers will help people more than the denominations will. For those denominations, the parable of the good Samaritan is very apt!
Can we be truly obedient in our own lives, helping the vulnerable, the elderly, and helping neighbors and friends when we can, and expecting nothing in return? Is it possible to give not just your money, but your time and your heart? Yes we can, but we need to be careful who we allow to speak into our lives what we let into our conscious thoughts and memory, and ensure that what we enact is from the Scriptures in the context that it is given in.
2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by Elohim and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for setting straight, for instruction in righteousness,
Living in accordance with the Scriptures means taking care how we conduct ourselves each second of each day. We need the covering of the Set Apart Spirit, a true understanding of the Scriptures, dedication to the Father and Messiah, but above all a new heart and right spirit (Psalm 51:10). We need to release the desires of the world, dedicate our lives, and pray for the cleansing and reshaping of our consciousness, our thoughts, and our values.
As Natsarim, we are called to obey the Father and Messiah commandments, and the Word set out in the Scriptures. We prefer a life of humbleness and service for all of our neighbours. If we ignore our neighbours in need, then the Set-Apart Spirit is not part of our lives.
The Messiahs message is clear, we need to love one another, help one another, and follow the commandment “………and your neighbour as yourself.” This instruction also appears in Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 5:43, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27 and John 13:34, so it is emphasised and important
Web page last updated 4 March 2023