The story of the Good Samaritan is narrated in the gospel of Saint Luke in the bible in the New Testament. The parable is narrated to a lawyer who intended to test Jesus. The lawyer had first asked Jesus what he had to do in order to inherit the kingdom of heaven. The lawyer was an expert of law. This means that he was just testing Jesus since he already knew what he was to do. As a teacher of law, this lawyer knew all the laws. However, he was trying to find a reason which he could use to prosecute Jesus.
Jesus does not answer the question but asks the lawyer what the law says about the issue. Jesus already knew the intentions of this lawyer and this is why he did not directly answer the question from him but instead asked him another question. The lawyer answers the question himself by saying that you should love God with all your heart, soul and mind. He also says that you should love your neighbor as you love yourself. This is the summary of the commandments that were given by Moses. Jesus then tells the lawyer that the answer he had given is correct and the lawyer should do this and he will live. This is enough prove that the lawyer was an expert of the Law of Moses but he was after testing Jesus.
The lawyer then asks Jesus, “Who is your neighbor?” this lawyer was not seeking humility and the true meaning of a neighbor (Peter, 47). The lawyer seemed not satisfied with the answer given by Jesus and he wanted to trick him more. The lawyer just wanted to justify that what he does is correct and therefore he is worth inheriting the kingdom of heaven. He thought that a neighbor is his relatives who lived next to him. He would then approve his actions since he loved and helped his relatives. By loving the people who lived next to him and his relatives, the lawyer was sure that he obeyed the commandment that requires Christians to love their neighbors. The lawyer did not actually know the meaning of neighbor. This is why Jesus gives the parable of the Good Samaritan as an answer to the meaning of a neighbor.
The parable of the Good Samaritan demonstrates the true love that the law talks about and many people ignore this love. The road from Jerusalem to Jericho was characterized by a lot of insecurity (Funk, 57). There were many robbers along the road. Jesus therefore gives a story of a man who was attacked by the robbers, beaten and left half dead. This man was a Jew. The first person to pass by was a priest. This priest passed on the other side of the road. He gave no assistance to the man who was already robbed, beaten and was left with no clothes. The priest may be thought that the man was dead and it was unclean to touch dead bodies according to the Jewish traditions. The priest did not therefore risk becoming unclean. He did not even look at the man again. In addition, the priest tried to avoid being associated with the robbery.
The second person who passed by was a Levite. Levites were individuals who helped in the temple activities. All these individuals were Jews. The Levite also passed because he did not want to risk being unclean. The Levite however moved closer to see the man who was already injured and half dead. The Levite also did not risk being associated with the robbery and therefore went away and left the man on the road. The priest and the Levites were regarded as holy people in those days and therefore could not be attacked by the robbers. However, they did not risk helping their fellow Jew who needed their help.
The third person was a Samaritan (Funk, 58). During those times, the relationship between the Jews and the Samaritans was not good. The Samaritans were always hated by the Jews and it is not expected that the Samaritan would help the Jew. However, the Samaritan put aside the enmity between them and the Jews and decided to help the Jew who was in need. He gave first aid to the Jew and then paid another person to take care of the Jew. In addition, he gave the Jew food. He was even ready to pay any other expenses that would be incurred. Jesus after giving the parable to the lawyer, he asked who was a neighbor according to the parable. Since the lawyer knew that the practices of the Jews did not demonstrate true love, he was not comfortable to answer Jesus that the good neighbor in the story was the Samaritan. Instead, he answered by saying that whenever helped the suffering Jew was a good neighbor. Jesus comments that we should also do as the Samaritan did.
After the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus went to the home of Martha and Mary. Mary sat near Jesus listening to the teachings of Jesus. However, Martha started complaining that Mary was not helping her in the house. However, Jesus said that Mary had chosen the right thing (Funk, 59).
The story of the Good Samaritan is affected by the preceding stories. The story of the Good Samaritan and the stories before and after the parable help to clearly describe a neighbor. The lawyer thought that by helping his relative, he was observing the law that requires people to love their neighbors. However, the parable shows that the neighbors of the lawyer were not his relatives but the people who needed the help of the lawyer. This clearly shows that the Christians
Should help the people in need of their help and not only their relatives and the people living next to them. This shows the true love that the scripture talks about.
The story that comes after the parable of the Good Samaritan also helps to describe the meaning of a neighbor better. Even though Martha was in need of Mary’s help, Jesus shows that this is not the kind of help that a neighbor requires. Mary was doing the right thing and therefore she was not required to go and help Martha. This shows that the help given to a person in need should not be against the will of God.
The story of the Good Samaritan intended to criticize the Jews for their behavior. The Jews loved themselves and hated other people such as the Samaritans. The parable shows the act of the Jews were against the teachings of god. Even though they knew the teachings of the scripture, the Jews only did the things that favored them and ignored the true teachings of God. In addition, individuals such as priests and the Levites thought that they were very pure and did not consider helping the individuals who were in need of their help. They had their own traditions which they followed strictly but some of these traditions were against the teachings of God.
The story teaches that Christians should ignore their bad relationship with others and instead go ahead and help them. The parable shows that even though the Samaritans did not know the teachings of the law, they obeyed the law more than the Jews who knew the law but did not follow it. The Samaritan who helped the person who was attacked by the robbers gave help to the person without caring whether he was a Jew or a Samaritan. Christians should therefore help others regardless of the relationship, color, race or the religion of the individual. This is the love for the neighbors that the law talks about.
The parable of the Good Samaritan represents allegoric structure in writing. The characters used in the parable have their literal meaning. The robbers who had injured and robbed the Jew represent the Satan who makes man to sin. The injuries on the Jew represent the sins against the lord. The Jew who had been injured and left on the road represents Adam or men who sin against God. The oil that was used to clean wounds on the injured Jew represents the blood and mercy of Jesus that cleaned the sins of mankind by dying on the cross.
The Jew was taken care at an inn representing the church whereby Christians are taught that they should repent so that their sins are forgiven as the injuries of the man got cured(Peter, 47) . The person employed to take care of the Jew represents the leaders of the church who are supposed to help the Christians to repent and pray for forgiveness. On the other hand, the priest represents the law while the Levite represents the prophets. The fact that the Good Samaritan promised to come back and pay the expenses of the Jew represents the meaning that Jesus will come back for his people. Therefore the parable has a literal meaning and this is why it is said to be allegorical in nature. This comparison of the characters in the parable is what is called allegorist. The good Samaritans are compared with the priest and the Levite. In addition, these characters represented different things in the actual setting of the story. The use of allegories helps people do better understand the teachings that Jesus was delivering to the people.
Allegory has also been used in other parts of the bible. Allegory is used in the old testament whereby silver snake so that whoever was bitten by a snake would look at the silver snake and get healed. This is an allegory because the silver snake represents Jesus who was crucified while the individuals who were bitten represented the sinners. Allegory is used in the New Testament books. Allegory is used because it is easy to understand the intended meaning. This is why Jesus used many parables that were allegorical.
Parallelism is a structure in writing where different stories are told about a similar thing. There is a lot of parallelism that is demonstrated in the gospel books namely Luke Mathew and mark (Klyne, 97). Many parables had similar teachings. Most of them addressed the issue of the salvation of the mankind. The parables in the gospels that demonstrate parallelism include the parable of the Good Samaritan, the parable of the prodigal son and the parable of the good thief. All these parables demonstrate that the salvation was not only brought to the Jews. Instead, Jesus intended to save all the individuals regardless of their tribe, race, religion or color. It can be observed that parallelism has been applied in the above parables since they aim at teaching a similar thing.
Redaction critics were fully applied in the book of Luke when writing the parable of the Good Samaritan. This is due to the fact that the author new the traditions of the individuals in the context. The parable is not given as it was told but the author had the independence of including more since he knew the relationship that existed between the Jews and the Samaritans.
The author knew the traditions of the Jews. He was aware that they did not touch the dead bodies and this is why the priest did not touch the man who was lying on the road. The author also knew that the road from Jerusalem to Jericho was risky due to the robbers, rocky and the mountainous conditions of the region. He also knew that the Jews hated the Samaritans and this is why he used this information when writing the parable. He also knew that the priests and the Levites were individuals who viewed themselves as clean people and therefore avoided anything that would make them to be unclean. The writer also knew that the Jews considered themselves a special tribe separate from the others. With this knowledge, the author of the passage was able to change the parable to make the readers of the bible better understand the whole context. He used the information to criticize the Jews who viewed themselves as holy and special chosen race.
The theologically important words in the bible include the priest, Levites and the law. These words are also found in other parts of the bible. The priests mean people who usually preach and direct the other Christians (Klyne, 102). They are the individuals believed to know the scriptures and teach the others. The Levites are the leaders who usually help in the church. They also know the teachings of the scriptures and they help the Christians on the matters of spirituality. The word law is usually used by the theologists to refer to the commandments of the lord. These are the Ten Commandments that were given to Moses by God at Mount Sinai. These were the laws that the Israelites were supposed to obey. The word gentiles theologically mean the people who are not yet baptized and are non Jews. All these theological words have been used in the parable of the Good Samaritan.
This passage shows the love that God has to the mankind. In the parable, the Good Samaritan is viewed as Jesus who died on behalf of the sinners. Even though the sinners destroy the relationship between man and God, God is always willing to renew this relationship. God also doesn’t discriminate the races or the tribes. Jesus served both Jews and the gentiles equally and He wanted everybody to know that there is no special tribe. If anybody accepts to repent and follow the Laws, then he/she will inherit the kingdom of God. God’s always wants a good relationship with the people and this is why he made sure that there are the priests to guide te people to do the right things.
The parable of the Good Samaritan helped solve several issues that existed in the time. First, the belief that the Jews were the only chosen tribe was brought to an end. This is because the parable demonstrated that Samaritans were obeying the lord even more than the Jews were doing. The Jews thought that they were obeying the law by passing by without giving assistance to the injured Jew with an aim of avoiding becoming unclean (John, 84). Jesus was able to show that the Jews were breaking the commandments even though they knew the correct teachings of the scriptures.
The parable also helped to clearly define a neighbor. The people who lived during the times were able to know that a neighbor is an individual in need of their help and not only the neighbors. This is as opposed to the earlier belief that a neighbor is a person who lives next to you. The belief that the Levites and the priests are the pure people following the commandments was clarified. If the priests and the Levites are the right people to follow, then they would have helped the man who had been injured by the robbers.
The parable of the Good Samaritan helped the people of the time to see the need for loving each other and avoiding hatred. The parable showed that people should be able to be united and live peacefully helping each other. If the Good Samaritan hated the Jews, he would have avoided giving assistance to the Jew who was already wounded and abandoned.
The parable of the Good Samaritan helped to warn the Jews to avoid their traditional beliefs such as touching a dead body makes an individual to be unclean (John, 89). This is because such beliefs make people to avoid assisting other when in problems. The other problem that the parable solved that time is the disbelief that Jesus was the son of God. When the lawyer noticed that Jesus had a lot of wisdom and answered the questions he asked with a lot of integrity, the lawyer and the other people should have believed that Jesus was not a man like them. In conclusion, the parable of the Good Samaritan helped answer many questions that the people who lived those days had no clear information. In addition, the parable taught people the changes that they needed in their lives in order to inherit the kingdom of heaven.
Funk, Robert W., Roy W. Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar. The five gospels. HarperSanFrancisco. 1993. Print
John Barton and John Muddiman, The Oxford Bible Commentary, Oxford University Press, 2001 print.
John W. Welch, The Good Samaritan: Forgotten Symbols, Liahona, Feb. 2007, print.
Peter Rhea Jones, Studying the Parables of Jesus, Smyth & Helwys, 1999 print.
Caird, the Language and Imagery of the Bible. Duckworth. 1980. Print
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Klyne Snodgrass, Stories with Intent: A comprehensive guide to the parables of Jesus, Eerdmans, 2008 print