The “Good” Samaritan is an Understatement

In Luke 10:25-37 we hear the well-known parable of “The Good Samaritan”.

The story is about people who should have helped the robber’s victim but they did not offer help, but instead actively avoided helping. Then along comes a Samaritan who stops, cares for the victim, takes him to an inn, gives the innkeeper money to care for him, and says he’ll pay even more if needed.

I’m not going to get into the fact that it was a Samaritan who stopped; the enemy and lowest of the low according to the Jewish people at that time. …But that is a level and a layer to definitely know and consider.

But here’s the part that I think I’ve missed in all my years of reading and hearing this story:

“…[he] took him to an inn, and cared for him. The next day…”

Here is a “Samaritan traveler” who is very clearly traveling to somewhere. We don’t know his timeline/schedule, purpose for traveling, or urgency. But we do know that upon seeing the victim he was “moved with compassion at the sight” and then abandons his own plans and attends to the needs of the one in need.

He doesn’t just attend to the immediate need, drop him off somewhere, and go on his way again. This is the impression and understanding I think I’ve had. But it’s wrong.

The Samaritan traveler doesn’t just give the innkeeper money to care for the man. The Samaritan traveler stops and cares for the man himself – until the next day. The Samaritan doesn’t give up some goods, some money, a little bit of time for this man – he gives up the rest of the day and night. He sacrifices his own plans and resources for this stranger. Perhaps he didn’t have that time (or resources) to spare, but he spared it anyways.

He cared for the victim and tended to the victim personally and he did what he could to ensure others would do the same when he no longer could do it himself.

I think we often gloss over the depth of this caring. We get one point Jesus is making, but we miss the others.

-We should be neighborly when called on to be neighborly.
-We should treat people with love and mercy, especially those who are in need.
-We should not be like the priest or Levite, but instead strive to be like the Samaritan.

When Jesus tells us, “Go and do likewise” there is a depth there that shouldn’t be missed.

It goes beyond noticing, it goes beyond stopping, it goes beyond helping a little. It is a self-sacrificing caring and attention. It is a caring without limits. Jesus is challenging us deeply.

“Go and do likewise”?! How is it even possible?

You must love and love greatly. You must act and love without reservation. You must fully commit to sharing love that God calls you to share when he calls you to share it – not when you plan on it, not just for those that love you in return, but for everyone at all times.

Be ready to love and serve others with compassion.

And when the moment comes to do – do!

The Greatest Commandment.
25 * There was a scholar of the law* who stood up to test him and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?”
27 He said in reply, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
28 He replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.”

The Parable of the Good Samaritan.
29 But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 Jesus replied, “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead.
31 * A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.
32 Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.
33 But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight.
34 He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him.
35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’
36 Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”
37 He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

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