PARABLES OF JESUS:
THE GOOD SAMARITAN
A. Youngest children: they can act out this parable very easily and identify with the “religious” who will not help the beaten man.
B. Grade school children will see the irony in the story. Samaritans were hated by Jews, yet the rejected Man helps out the victim. There are two levels: 1) Christ helping us, and 2) helping our neighbor.
C. Confirmation aged students will find much more in this section. The lawyer is trying to justify himself, so he is shown what the works-saints do for the truly needy. (Pharisees help one another but no one else.) The Good Samaritan is Jesus (Isaiah 53 – despised, rejected). Wine and oil are the Law and Gospel (Luther – one is sharp, the other comforting and healing). The One who proved to be a neighbor is Christ, and we are to see Christ in our neighbor.
Part 1 – Setting, For the Older Children
Luke 10:25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? 27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. 28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. [have eternal life] 29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
Part 2 – The Good Samaritan Parable
30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
Part 3 – The Conclusion, For the Older Children
36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? 37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
I believe the context for the lawyer’s question and the parable is the benediction given by Jesus just before.
Luke 10:23 And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see: 24 For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
The blessing given by Jesus would alarm anyone who believes he is saved through obedience to the Law. The opposition of religious leaders toward Jesus was based on this alone. He said, “Righteous and salvation come from believing in Me.” They said, “You are possessed! We are saved through our family tree and loyalty to the Law!” Appearing to be ordinary did not help Jesus with these people. But performing miracles was not enough either.
The lawyer wanted to justify himself through the law, just like the rich young man. So Jesus gave him the Law in all its severity, showing that religious men will walk right man a wounded, robbed brother. Independent Lutheran laity and pastors can identify with the wounded man. In contrast, the despised Samaritan, the Savior, binds up the wounds and does far more than necessary for the stranger, and offers to do even more! The Gospel of Jesus exceeds all expectations. Does the Law?
Very important – the Samaritans and Jews had a long-standing tradition of hatred toward one another.
“The latter (Samaritans) were of pagan stock, without Jewish blood; were cursed publicly in the synagogue, with the prayer that they might have no part in the resurrection of life; were never accepted as proselytes [converts]; to eat their food was equal to eating swine’s flesh; it was better to suffer than to take their help; the Jew wished never to see a Cuthite (base name for Samaritan); with other evidence of extreme hatred. In John 8:48 the name ‘Samaritan’ was hurled at Jesus. The Samaritans retaliated in kind (9:53). To make a man who showed love so perfectly in this illustration ‘a Samaritan’ must have caused a sensation.”
R. C. H. Lenski, Luke, p. 382.
III Meaning of the Parable
Liberals love this as the ultimate do-gooder parable, and that is not enough for them. They also want political activism. They ask (Social Gospel Movement, political activism in the church): “Should we bind up the wounds of the beaten man, or make the road to Jericho safe?” The answer is obvious to them…and wrong.
If Jesus told this parable against the Jewish religious leaders of His time alone, we would be in paradise now. But it also applies to those works-saints who think they have earned eternal life by their families ties, outward observances, and loyalty to their particular infallible synod. One older Lutheran pharisee said, “I have 105 relatives and every single one of them is a member of this synod!” Some of these religious leaders would not only walk by a wounded man, but also deliver a few kicks in the ribs as well.
The Gospel alarms works-saints. The righteousness of Jesus alarms their sense of being saved by works. How can “seeing and hearing” Jesus be enough? So the lawyer demanded an answer designed to show the limits of mere faith.
The true Gospel gives without thinking about thanks or rewards. Jesus is the example in His crucifixion and care for the needy. But He is more than an example. He is the motivation for loving our neighbor. He has done everything for us, so we can show our thanks in good works. That is why nations influenced by the Gospel are the most generous and forgiving. Pagan cultures know only revenge.
What the Good Samaritan does for the wounded man is a parallel to what Jesus does for us. He goes to the wounded (who cannot go to Him in their weakness). He pours wine on our wounds (the sharpness of the Law) to reveal the nature of sin. He then uses oil (the comfort of the Gospel) to heal the wounds. He carries us to the inn on His own beast of burden. That is, Jesus provides the Christian Church for us to receive healing, dying for our sins and establishing the Church as an instrument of the Holy Spirit.
“And took care of him.” We must remember the multitude of additional details. Where we might drop off the stranger, the Good Samaritan stays to care for him. Just so, Jesus remains with us to heal us.
Leaving, paying, and offering to pay more. The ending reminds us of Jesus ascending to heaven, giving the Church spiritual gifts, and sending the Holy Spirit as our advocate. In our friends, family, teachers, and ministers, we have many ways of being served by the Gospel. In addition, the Gospel comes to us in the invisible Word of teaching and preaching, in the visible Word of baptism and holy communion.
IV Class Projects
1. Children enjoy acting out this parable, since one person can be wounded and lying almost dead on the floor, while three others walk by and avoid him. The different elements can also be acted out, the wine and oil, the beast of burden, the inn, and paying for even more attention for the man.
2. Children should also be encouraged to think in terms of showing their thanks to others and in praying for those in need.
3. Children can listen to Isaiah 53 and see how the Messiah is so much like the Good Samaritan of the parable, rejected by men, yet giving us healing and forgiveness.