The Parable of the Good Samaritan

I thought it was about time to revisit the parable of the good Samaritan. There is a true point in this story, that we should be like the Samaritan. But before Jesus gets to make that point, he actually has to deal with all the garbage that is there before the point can be seen. The Lawyer (scribe) comes to Jesus in order to test Him. What must I do to inherent eternal life? Jesus turns it around and says “You’re a lawyer, you should know. You tell me”. And the lawyer answers right! But then the text says he had to justify himself. (The Law already defines neighbor as first Israelite and stranger living in your midst (who must obey public Jewish laws)). If Jesus answers “as the law says” then he will come back and say “why have you been eating with so and so” but if he redefines neighbor then we will seen as disregarding the law, so he only answers by telling a story. The man is half-dead which means someone that is out cold and looks dead.Why does a lawyer not come by in the story? Because Jesus is using this story to make a point about Torah-keeping and so uses the best and most applicable examples. First to come is a high priest and Levite. Neither of these men are permited by law to touch a dead body except by ‘corpse of obligation’ which only works in desolate places where no one is likely to walk by. Interestingly enough, Jesus puts it on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho which was a major road. The question that is raised in the story is, “will you love God at the expense of loving your neighbor?” It calls into question the law as ultimate. There is an antinomy. A Samaritan worshiped at the wrong temple and other things, but he fulfills the law of neighbor. The Levite and High Priest fulfills the ceremonial law but doesn’t keep the law of neighbor. And these cannot be brought together. Jesus is saying ultimately, you need me to bring the two together. I am ultimate, not Torah. [Courtesy of Steve Taylor lectures from Fall 2005]


3 responses to “The Parable of the Good Samaritan

  1. The aspect of this parable that hit me recently was the identity of the samaritan. I think about how Jesus’ audienced clenched up when they heard him say “along came a Samaritan…” and I think that if Jesus was telling this story today, instead of “samaritan” he’d say “a hispanic drag queen” as he spoke to his middle-class religious listeners.

    The idea is that we have it all wrong with our us vs. them mentality — that those who follow Christ should make no distinctions as to who they love.

  2. jb, jared and i were actually talking about this the other night…any ideas about reconciling prejudices? i mean cuz the whole law thing i feel like…in this case…is sorta based on that…and…

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