Heroes: A Hero Saves the Day
If you asked the average person what a good Samaritan is, you would probably get the following answer: “a good Samaritan is a person who voluntarily renders aid to another in distress although under no duty to do so.” They are the community’s unsung heroes.
The good Samaritan parable is one of the most beloved gospel stories for young and old alike. The story is told in Luke 10:29–37: A man going from Jerusalem to Jericho is attacked by robbers who strip him and beat him. A priest and a Levite pass by without helping him. But a Samaritan stops and cares for him, takes him to an inn and pays for his care.
Something To Talk About:
The parable of the “good Samaritan” has echoed down the corridors of time for the past 2,000 years. What makes this story unique is the hero of the narrative is a Samaritan. The hostility between Jews and Samaritans is amply illustrated in the Bible. When Jesus engaged a sinful Samaritan woman in conversation because he valued her soul, John comments that normally, “… Jews do not associate with Samaritans.” (John 4:9) Jewish leaders, hurling an insult toward Jesus, said: “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan…” (John 8:48).The role of the neighborly Samaritan as the hero in this parable is, therefore, truly remarkable and forever changed who we view as neighbors.
- Jesus expanded the definition of neighbor beyond the boundaries of scripture: Jesus sought to expand the concept of “neighbor” to include people who were not Jewish, who would have raised eyebrows in Biblical times because a “neighbor” had come to be considered a Jew. For Jesus, a neighbor was anyone with whom you came into contact whether Jew, Samaritan, or Gentile. Jesus is teaching on the importance of showing love for anyone within one’s reach, along with Jesus’ command to love one’s enemies. In fact, this focus on an expanding definition led to the breaking down of racial barriers. The parable of the good Samaritan is telling us that one cannot exclusively exercise compassion or justice for one’s own people.
- Now go, and do the same: Compassion is more than a feeling, it takes the initiative. Compassion compels you to do good for your neighbor. Compassion is a choice; compassion is doing what is right. If we saw a need and met it, if we knew the price and paid it, and did not talk ourselves out of it, what would our neighborhood, our city, state and country look like? This parable not only changes the paradigm of who are our neighbors, but it challenges us to act. In showing compassion to someone from a race that despised his own, and one which I am sure he had been taught to hate, the Samaritan put away those prejudices that may have caused him to pass by like the priest and the Levite, and he widened his own conception of who was his neighbor. His generous act was more than a one-time act of compassion. His good deed reflected a deeper understanding of who he believed was a neighbor in his community. Can we go out and do the same?
- Jesus was a famous teacher. Many people asked him questions. Suppose you met a famous teacher like Jesus and could ask him one question. What would the question be?
- What are the risks of helping someone today? Why is it important for us to be willing to help others?
- Who is your neighbor according to Jesus’ parable? What does the parable tell us about how to love your neighbor? How should this parable impact how we view people today?
- In what ways do we justify our lack of love for others? How does it feel when someone has mercy on you? Who do you know that is hurting and has no one to call on? What are you to do?
- What did the lawyer learn from this parable? What lessons did you learn from this parable?
- Look at the characters in the story: the priest, the Levite, the Samaritan, the man who was beaten. Who might these people be today? What if the injured person were someone from a different ethnic group than yours? Would you stop to help?
- What can we do this week to change our view of neighbors?
Take One Thing Home With You:
Jesus’ teachings were revolutionary for their time and many of them, if taken seriously, would completely change the way we lived today. These teachings still have the impact they had 2,000 years ago.
Imagine if you will, hearing Jesus’ teaching for the first time. He tells us not to worry about what we are going to eat or what we are going to wear. He tells us not to save up for a rainy day but to trust that God will provide for all of our needs. He tells us that when someone tries to steal something from us, to give them more than they ask for. He tells us that if someone attacks you, don’t fight back, instead allow them to have their way with you. He talks about the prodigal son, an incredible story of a father’s love that shows how much God truly loves us and will accept us no matter how far we’ll stray. And He changed the definition of a neighbor in the story of the good Samaritan. It is a story I’ve heard so many times and heard so many sermons about that it would seem pointless for me to preach about it again. Yet, it’s message that is timeless and has a lot to say to us today if we only listen.