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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, February 01 2024

The good samaritan and eternal life

The point Christ emphasized in the parable of the good Samaritan is that everyone is our neighbour, and we should treat them the way we would want to be treated, if we want to inherit eternal life.

The good samaritan and eternal life
'The Samaritan bandaged the man’s wounds, placed him on his animal and took him to an inn and stayed with him.' Luke 10:34

The context to the parable begins in Luke 10:25. A lawyer approached Christ to test Him, enquiring what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Christ asked what was written in the law (verse 26), and the lawyer correctly answered, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself'" (verse 27). Christ then told the lawyer by doing these things he would inherit eternal life (verse 28).

The lawyer then asked Christ "who is my neighbour" (verse 29), because he wanted to justify himself, as he knew he was not loving others as himself. In order to illustrate what loving your neighbor entailed Jesus then related the parable of the good Samaritan.

A man, who was probably a Jew, gets robbed,beaten and is left lying on the side of the road. A priest and a Levite see him there, wounded and bleeding, and cross over to the other side of the road rather than assist him (verses 30-32). We, as Christians, should ask ourselves if we make excuses to not help someone, thinking we do not have time or that it might be a trap. (God, of course, wants us to exercise good judgment. Some situations may be dangerous or a trap)

1 John 3:17-18 instructs us: "But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?....let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth." James 2:14-17 admonishes, "What does it profit… if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,' but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."

Peter instructs us to be compassionate and tenderhearted (1 Peter 3:8). The Gospel accounts are full of Christ being moved with compassion. He cast out demons, raised dead loved ones to life again, fed 5,000 people and healed the sick, to name just a few of His good works and miracles.

Continuing the parable in Luke 10:33, a Samaritan came by and saw the man and had compassion on him. It is interesting to note the Jews despised the Samaritans, but Christ instructs us in Luke 6:35-36 to, "... love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful."

The Samaritan bandaged the man’s wounds, placed him on his animal (which means the Samaritan walked), and took him to an inn and stayed with him (Luke 10:34), losing at least a day in order to help the man, and taking a loss to assist someone in need. The next day the Samaritan gave the innkeeper two denarii to care of the recuperating man (verse 35). A denarius was a day's wage for a laborer. So the Samaritan gave two days' wages, and told the innkeeper any extra funds he needed he would repay.

Christ then asked the lawyer which of the three men, who had seen the wounded man on the road, were the man's neighbor (verses 36-37). The lawyer answered the Samaritan, who showed mercy, and Jesus told the lawyer to, "Go and do likewise." Paul encourages us to do good to all people when we have opportunity, as this will lead us to eternal life (Galatians 6:9-10) although, as mentioned, we do need to be careful and not put ourselves in danger or into a situation where people can take advantage of us.

This parable highlights two principles that can guide us in helping others. The first is to help someone who cannot help him or herself. The second point is to help as you are able. The Samaritan was strong enough to lift this man on his animal. If the Samaritan was elderly, he could have gotten help. Cell phones make it a lot easier for us to call for help today.

This parable is about a way of life. We are to love everyone we come in contact with—friends and strangers—treating them the way we would like to be treated. God promises He will not forget the good we show to others (Hebrews 6:10), and Christ instructs us, "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).