The Parable of the Good Samaritan25On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
26"What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"
28"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."
29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
30In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two silver coins[e] and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'
36"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"
37The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."
Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."
Now, the reason I have thought about this story a bit more deeply, is I was reminded of the social context in which this story is told. The Samaritans were hated by the Jews. They had sold out their faith. They were traitors to Jerusalem. They had intermarried with non Jews and were half caste. They were despised.
But beyond this they were heretics, they had not only compromised the faith, but had distorted it. We must remember that to a Jewish person, there is only One. And in the midst of a culture that worshiped all manners of gods, they were told of the one, true God. This God revealed Himself to the Jewish people, as the ONE. The one God over all of life. And through their history, revealed Himself in the temple, or the tabernacle. Though they were called to serve God, to live righteously, to do justice, and have mercy. There is only one place that worship, and sacrifice can be done! the temple. Infact all Jews would come to Jerusalem to worship three times a year. They would have discussion in the synagogues, and read, and sing, but only one place could worship happen, the abode of the Almighty, the temple.
These Samaritans, in an age of spiritism said that God could be worshipped in the high places. The same places pagans worshipped demons. These were truly the lowest of the low.
And when we see this, if we can grasp it, we see that Jesus meant not only to tell us to help others. But we must see that Jesus stood in the face of all social convention, and loudly proclaimed that those that see the spirituality of service, and sacrifice, are closer to the kingdom of God, than those with correct doctrine, correct church, and correct lineage. Jesus, this radical revolutionary servant leader, calls us to a greater thing than religion. He calls us to love til it hurts.