There are few Bible stories as familiar as the Good Samaritan from Luke 10:25-37, yet this may be one of the most misunderstood parables. Most sermons preached on this text focus almost exclusively on the last half of the final verse, where Jesus told the good lawyer who wanted to justify himself, “You go, and do likewise” (Luke 10:37b). These sermons are not entirely wrong-headed. This call to action is after all, the concluding verse of the text.
But this rousing call to action may become misguided if we ignore the most important question of the text. Before answering the question, “What are you going to do?” it is just as important (maybe even more important) to discover, “Who is the Good Samaritan?”
The lawyer came to Jesus wanting to justify himself, and if we come to this text trying to be our neighbor’s savior, we can commit the same sin of self-righteousness.
The Pharisees in John 8:48 called Jesus a Samaritan. He was, after all, from Nazareth and born to an unwed mother. He was of little means and little education. To the Pharisees, He was unwanted, uncouth, unqualified and otherwise unacceptable-just like the Samaritans of His day. In other words, JESUS IS THE GOOD SAMARITAN.
Even though most of his Jewish contemporaries rejected Him, He came to rescue and heal those who most of society leaves for dead. It wasn’t the traveler’s fault that he was mugged and left to die. He was a victim who the Priest (pastor) and Levite (church worker) passed by. So it fell to a man who was also rejected (Jesus) to lift him up and carry him to safety.
Jesus has done the same for you. Yes, we are all sinners in God’s eyes and in a strict sense don’t “deserve” for Him to heal us. Victims of a spiritual war we did not start, Christ has had compassion on us by forgiving us. He has washed our wounds with His blood and poured out His Holy Spirit upon our wounds. He feeds us and nourishes us in faith. He has paid the price for our rescue with His own unjust suffering on the cross. In other words, He has done everything for us that the Good Samaritan did for the unfortunate traveler.
Could the inn keeper be a personification of the Church who keeps us until Christ returns? Haven’t thought much about that one yet, so I’ll let you figure that one out for yourself… But while you try to figure that out, why not follow Jesus’ advice? Rescued, cleaned, healed and strengthened by the Good Samaritan, “You go, and do likewise.”
Tagged: Christ, Church, Good Samaritan, Good works, Israel, Jericho, Jerusalem, Jesus, John 8, Justification, Levite, Luke 10, Nazareth, Neighbor, Palestine, Parable of the Good Samaritan, Pharisees, Samaritan, Sanctification