The priest and the Levite were the goats of the Good Samaritan story. A Samaritan was the hero. To the hearers of the story no Samaritan was good. It would be like someone today telling a story to a Jewish audience and casting an Iraqi as the hero. Yet Jesus included these three in his story to make a point. It was a life and death issue so he pulled no punches. At the end of the story he said, "Go and do likewise."

A lawyer had asked Jesus what it takes to receive eternal life.




The Samaritan was called "good" because he helped a stranger in need. The other two observed him, but walked on by.  Perhaps they judged him unworthy of their help. Maybe their schedule was inflexible. The c was good because he saw a person in need and did not hesitate to personally take care of it.

He too must have had an agenda, but the man's need was more important. The Samaritan gave his time, and his money. He let the person ride on his donkey while he walked. Once at the inn he stayed all night to take care of the person. The next morning he left a deposit with the inn keeper to cover any additional expenses. The Samaritan performed in a way that is natural for a person whose life is centered on obeying the Great Commandment. He loved the man as Christ loves the world -- wholeheartedly.

This is the most famous story of the greatest story teller of all time. Today everyone knows this parable. People of other religions, and those who have no religion use the phrase "good Samaritan" to describe a good deed. But it was more than just a good deed story.

When Jesus selected his inner group of disciples he chose ordinary men--people who were teachable, who would obey. Here in this story again, his hero is a surprising choice.

Ceremony Verses True Religion.

Rebuking religious leaders, or casting them in the role of the "bad guy," was not unusual for Jesus. Once, at a meal, a leader chided Jesus for not ceremoniously washing the dish from which he was eating. Jesus said, "Give what is inside the dish to the poor and you will be clean."

WOW! Right to the heart of the matter. The man was focused on religious rites. "Doing religious things," he thought, made one holy, or clean. Jesus' blunt reaction must have stunned everyone at the table. He spoke of a more important issue -- taking care of the poor.

In our day too, religious people can be hampered by their ceremonial concerns, and the day to day affairs of "running a church." Even those specially commissioned as servants of God may forget to obey the GREAT COMMANDMENT -- "Love others as I have loved you."

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27.

For the Christian, the Samaritan story is a reminder. When we see or hear about a needy person, if our hearts are open to God he will move us to compassion. God wants more from his people than random acts of kindness, or the loose change from a purse or wallet. Sacrificial giving may be called for. We may need to help a stranger, one of another religious faith, or one who claims allegiance to no religion.

In every community, behind closed doors, there are elderly and disabled lonely people who quietly despair. Some need a friend who will pay a bill, buy a prescription, replace a water heater, take them out for a burger, or the like.

When we see ourselves as a servant to others, we understand the New Testament scriptures better. We see that God beckons us to action. We don't have to be specially trained, or ordained to be a hero of Christ.
-- D. E. Stribling