Most of us are familiar with the story of the Good Samaritan. It is probably told in most Bible classes across the country, and it is one of the most remembered of all of Jesus’ parables.
The rulers of the Jews were constantly trying to find ways to trick Jesus by asking Him questions they hoped He would be unable to answer. This was no exception.
A lawyer came to Jesus and asked Him a question, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” This was a man that knew the law, and Jesus used this to begin to answer the lawyer’s question. Jesus answered with two questions; “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?”
The lawyer recited from the law that one should love the Lord with their complete being and his neighbor as himself (Luke 10:27). Jesus commended him on knowing this, but the lawyer wasn’t satisfied with Jesus’ reaction. He then asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”
Jesus then proceeded to tell the parable we know as the Good Samaritan. The priest and the Levite in the story passed by a wounded man lying on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho. A Samaritan, a man belonging to a group of people despised by the Jews, stopped to help this man. He used his own animal to take him to an inn where he cared for him at his own expense and left money with the innkeeper for the man’s continued care.
The lawyer had to admit that the Samaritan was the only one that showed mercy on this man, and Jesus told him to go out and do like this Samaritan. There is no information about this lawyer after he left Jesus, but I doubt that he forgot either the story or the instruction Jesus gave him.
So, what can we learn from this lesson? Even a small child can learn the ultimate lesson of being helpful to someone in need. But there are other lessons to be learned from the others in this story.
Lesson number one is from the lawyer. We should not try to test God. God knew the lawyer’s heart, just as He knows ours. This lawyer was a hypocrite! He pretended to question Jesus about eternal life when he knew the answer to his own question. If we know what we need to do, we should do it and not test God or the scriptures by trying to find an excuse not to do what we know is right.
Lesson number two is from the robbers. They had an attitude of, “What is yours is mine, and I will take it if I want it.” This attitude of selfishness will not stand in the judgment. The prophet Nathan used this same lesson in the parable he told King David. Remember, David had taken Uriah’s wife and had Uriah killed in battle. Nathan told David about a rich man that took a poor man’s only lamb to feed his guests. David was horrified that such a thing had happened, and he said that such a man would be put to death (II Samuel 12:5). He quickly realized that Nathan was talking about him and his sin of adultery and murder.
Lesson number three is from the Priest and the Levite. They had an attitude of, “What is mine is mine, and I won’t share it.” They were not willing to take a little time to check the poor beaten man on the road and offer some help. Jesus spoke often about our responsibility to help those in need. In Matthew 25:33-46, Jesus said that those that would inherit the kingdom are those that feed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, take in strangers, clothe the naked, and visit those in prison. Those that don’t do these things will not inherit the kingdom.
Lesson number four is from the Good Samaritan. His attitude was, “What is mine is yours.” He shared what he had with the wounded man, even though he was considered an enemy of the Jews.
May God help us as we go along our way each day to see the needs of those around us and say, “What is mine is a gift from God, and I will share with you because I want to inherit the kingdom of God.”