The Gospel of Luke was carefully researched and written by a physician named Luke (one of the Apostle Paul’s traveling companions) so that God’s people may know with certainty the things we’ve been taught by and about Jesus (Luke 1:1-4). By the time you get to Luke 10, Jesus has already prophesied twice that He’s going to die. In Luke 9:51 we learn that Jesus has “set His face to go to Jerusalem” meaning that He’s resolved to go to the cross. From this point on, every story in Luke’s gospel is setting the stage for Jesus’ crucifixion. Including what is perhaps one of the most popular stories Jesus ever told, the parable of the Good Samaritan. That story is told in Luke 10:25-37:
25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” 29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
Even though this story is perhaps the most popular parable Jesus told, it may also be the most misunderstood. Far too many explanations of this story seem one-dimensional. For some, this story is all about doing justice and mercy. For others, this story has nothing to say about justice and mercy. For some (especially interpreters throughout church history) this story is all about Jesus, the real Good Samaritan. For others, this story isn’t about Jesus at all. This week let’s examine this parable carefully, in hopes to develop a three-dimensional view of this story. Come back tomorrow as we begin with the main point of this parable.