Wednesday, March 12
Worship at 11:00 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.
The Good Samaritan
But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’ vs. 29
Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ vs.36
How Do We Read A Parable?
Jesus told many stories about what either heaven or the spiritual life was “like,” using examples from everyday life. He often began, “The kingdom of Heaven is like . . .” We call these stories, which explain the extraordinary in terms of the ordinary, the Parables of Jesus.
We know the disciples often didn’t understand the parables the first time they heard them, and we don’t always get the point of the story the first time, either. Jesus had an interesting sense of humor, and the disciples seemed to never understand the jokes – just like us, they often responded in confusion.
So, like the disciples, we should talk and pray about the stories, discussing what Jesus might have meant by the story. Jesus also gave us an opportunity to fill in the blanks. Whenever he tells a story about a nameless person – “a man” or “a woman” or a “Pharisee” or a “tax collector”- we are welcome to fill in our own names. How does the story sound then?
Some background for the story:
- The Samaritans were descended from the people whom Nebuchadnezzar did not take into exile. They remained in the mountains north of Jerusalem, and set up their own worship sites there. Because the Samaritans readily intermarried, and because they sacrificed to God in their own homeland, the Jews of Jerusalem decided that the Samaritans were not dedicated to the purity that God required and made the Samaritans outcasts. Judeans would not travel on Samaritan roads or drink from Samaritan wells; they thought they would become unclean in the eyes of God if they touched a Samaritan or shared a meal with him.
- In Jewish law, people who touched dead bodies (even with their shadows) became ritually unclean and therefore unable to pray. Jesus tells this story to show us that caring for the well-being of our neighbor brings us closer to God, rather than separating us from him.
- The lawyer’s answer comes from well-known verses in the Old Testament : Deuteronomy 6:5 Leviticus 19:18b
Questions for Reflection this week:
- What was the lawyer’s first question to Jesus (vs. 25)? What was his second (vs. 29)? Why do you think he asked the second?
- Why do you think the priest and the Levite refused to help the victim on the road?
- Why is it ironic that a Samaritan is the one who helped?
- Who are those people we might look on today with suspicion or mistrust?
- In telling this parable, Jesus removed all limits as to who our neighbor is, and all limits to how far we should go in helping:
- How does the parable make these points?
- How and why to people rationalize the limits we place on helping others?