The Good Samaritan

One day Jesus told a story about a Samaritan. The ancient Jewish writings, the Talmud, was very racist, saying that non-Jews were NOT neighbours and were not to be treated in the same way as Jews. Jesus wanted to tell the Jews a story which would really make them think:

Reading: Luke 10 v 30-35

The road from Jerusalem to Jericho is steep, rough and downhill, dropping about 1300 metres. It was a favourite area for thieves, especially where the road passed through narrow rocky gorges. Jesus' story starts with a lone traveller being brutally attacked. Perhaps the theives were especially vindictive because the man had little of value, for they stripped his clothes off him, and beat him viciously.

So there he lay, badly injured, exposed to the fierce heat of the sun ... bound to die.

Jericho was one of those towns where the Priests lived, and the first man to come along was a priest. He was going down towards Jericho, so presumably he was returning home after finishing his duty in the Temple. The priest saw the poor man lying there - and kept well away, hurrying along home! What a thing for a 'man of God' to do! Perhaps he was afraid the thieves were still about. Perhaps he was squeamish and had nothing with him anyway with which to deal with the man's wounds. Perhaps he was afraid the man would die on his hands which would make him, as a priest, ceremonially unclean. he must have had some reason for justifying his action to himself - but there really was no excuse for him not helping.

Then along came a Levite - one of those people who helped the priests with some of the Temple duties. The Levite did at least go over to the man to look at him - but then he too went away without doing anything to help. He too probably had his own selfish reasons for not helping, for not following God's Law and doing his moral duty.

Lastly, a man came by who did have compassion on the injured man, and who DID help ... and this man was one of the hated and despised Samaritans! What's more, the Samaritan helped in every way possible. He used the oil and wine he had with him to dress the man's wounds, tore up his own clothes to act as bandages, and carefully lifted him onto his own donkey to get him to the nearest inn. At the inn, he nursed the man himself. Then, the next day, he paid the innkeeper two silver coins (about £40) for further care of the injured man, and promised to pay anything additional to that when he next visited the inn.

We learn a real lesson from this parable about the way we should behave when someone is in trouble - whatever the risks and inconvenience to ourselves. Let us try to be like the Good Samaritan as we go through our lives each day.

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