What Was Jesus Message in Teaching the Parable of the Good Samaritan?

What Questions Will This Bible Study Answer?

Jesus told the Parable of the Good Samaritan more than two thousand years ago.

But, today everyone desires to be a Good Samaritan. However, in Jesus’ time, nobody wants to be a Samaritan much less to be a Good Samaritan.

However two millennia later, the phrase Good Samaritan has become somewhat of a cliche. Mainly because many people and things possess this description, as a name.

Now, we have Good Samaritan Church; Good Samaritan Foundation; Good Samaritan Christian Center; and naturally there is the Good Samaritan Hospital and the list continues for it is as long as The Amazon or The Nile.

So, What Has Changed?

Jesus responded to a question posed by a certain lawyer by telling the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

Since it started with a lawyer asking Jesus a barrage of questions, I will utilize this Bible Study to answer a few of them also.

What questions will this Bible Study answer?

Details of the Parable of the Good Samaritan

The main Bible reference is Luke 10:26-37.

And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25).

Jesus asked him, “What is written in the law? How readest thou?” (Luke 10:26).

The Lawyer replied,

“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 [neighbor] as thyself

” (Luke 10:27).

And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live” (Luke 10:28).

“But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my [neighbor]“? (Luke 10:29).

Who is My Neighbor?

Then Jesus responded with a narration. At the end of it, he asked a very relevant question?

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” (Luke 10:30).

And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side” (Luke 10:31)

And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side” (Luke 10:32).

But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him” (Luke 10:33)

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” (Luke 10:34).

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” (Luke 10:35).

Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?” (Luke 10:36).

And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise” (Luke 10:37).

Who is the Good Samaritan in Luke 10?

You have just read Luke 10:25-37, was Jesus the Good Samaritan in that narration?

Folks, don’t overthink the Scriptures. In no place above was he the Good Samaritan.

And if we teach that we would be conveying an idea that the Bible does not support.

Let’s teach only what the Good Book teaches!

He’s an unnamed Samaritan man who extends mercy to a person in need. And we don’t know his name.

What Does The Expression Good Samaritan Mean?

Be careful what you accept and believe even from reputable sources. On many occasions, they err relative to the Word of God.

Here is a contemporary definition for this do-gooder:

According to Merriam Webster, the legal definition of a good samaritan is: “one who voluntarily renders aid to another in distress although under no duty to do so“.

This definition exemplifies exactly why Jesus taught this parable to counter, the law or the “legal” expectations.

Hence, mentions were made of “the priest” and “the Levite” because they represent, the law.

This definition is misleading. All humans beings always have a “duty” to aid others in need. The Lord requires that of us, but some of us don’t see it that way.

The law or “legal” expectations have no place in matters of the heart.

For rendering aid to others in distress should emanate from the goodness of our hearts and not from the dictates of any law.

Except for the Law of God!

I prefer Dictionary Dot Com’s definition. It’s more in line with the Bible.

This website defines a good samaritan as “one who is compassionate and helpful to a person in distress“.

Now, this description of a do-gooder runs parallel to the true Word of God!

Any time we help others in distress it should always be voluntary. Our hearts should compel us and this is always voluntary and non-obligatory!

This latter definition adequately and biblically expresses the meaning of the good samaritan.

Why Did Jesus Tell The Parable of The Good Samaritan?

To understand this parable of Jesus, it’s crucial that we understand motives.

So, in Luke 10:25-37, Jesus in responding to a lawyer’s questions concerning eternal life, so he narrates the Parable of the Good Samaritan to answer his question.

We must comprehend the underlying reason for the lawyer’s question and simultaneously, we must perceive Jesus’ impetus for telling the parable.

How to Really Understand the Parable of the Good Samaritan?

The first thing to observe in comprehending the impetus for the lawyer’s question is how the Bible describes the scenario.

And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25).

Why did the lawyer stand?

To draw attention to himself of course!

According to Doctor Luke, the lawyer “stood up and tempted” Jesus by asking, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life”? (Luke 10:25).

Why Was the Lawyer Tempting Jesus?

The second thing to understand is his reason for tempting Jesus.

But how is a question a temptation and how is this one of such?

What does it mean that he was tempting Jesus? What was he attempting to do?

This lawyer belongs to groups of religious people which the Bible describes as “Scribes and Pharisees”.

They constantly attempt to entangle Jesus in his speech or lure him with tricky questions with the hope of him while answering them he would say something contrary to the Law.

How Do You Tempt With a Question?

These are the same people who accused the “woman taken in adultery” in John 8.

They pursue this in order to have a legal or “lawful” reason to accuse and then arrest him.

Therefore, when he asked Jesus about how to achieve eternal life that question was a disguise or a form of temptation for Jesus to answer contrary to the Law and thus provide him/them a reason to accuse him.

For that reason, Jesus deliberately introduced the “Law” into the conversation, because that really was the lawyer’s motive.

To that end he enquired of the lawyer, what does the Law say about this; What have you read? (Luke 10:26).

Lessons From the Parable of the Good Samaritan

The third thing worthy of note is the fact that the lawyer knew the correct answer to his question.

He wasn’t pursuing knowledge!

That’s the reason Jesus turned the situation around.

Since he knew the answer to his question, why did he ask?

So, Jesus, instead of him answering the lawyer, got the lawyer to answer his own question (Luke 10:27).

And he supplied the correct legal and biblical answer to Jesus who acknowledge it as such, (Luke 10:28).

At this point, the lawyer was feeling uncomfortable because a mere carpenter has outmaneuvered and outsmarted him, a Jewish leader versed in Moses’ Law.

Who does he think he is, the lawyer may have been thinking? Does he know, who I’m?

It was at this juncture that he determined that he was going to demonstrate to the onlookers and to Jesus just how smart he was.

Consequently, the Bible describes his attitude, at this juncture, as “he, willing to justify himself” (Luke 10:29).

Finally, why did he need to justify himself?

Because pride sets in!

His motive is to show that Jesus is a “Law-breaker”.

In The Parable of The Good Samaritan – Is Who is My Neighbour Appropriate?

He wants everyone there to know that Jesus does not keep Moses’ Law.

That was his goal. And that’s why he needed to justify his knowledge of the law in the eyes of all onlookers!

His desire to redeem himself in the eyes of the people compels this question:

“And who is my neighbour?” (Luke 10:29).

As we look back at Luke 10:27, we realize that the meaning of the entire quotation is straightforward except for the last phrase, mainly, “and thy neighbor as thyself”.

Who is my neighbor is up for interpretation by everyone?

Thus, Jesus tells this parable to place “neighbor” in context.

Did Jesus Play Dominoes?

As a result, this question is the most appropriate one at this juncture.

With that neat question the lawyer, (we don’t know his name), hopes to redeem himself.

However, like an astute Domino Player, the Lord Jesus is very consistent.

For he utilized an identical concept to answer the Lawyer the second time as he did in answering the first question.

The only difference is the procedure.

The second time, Jesus supplied the details first by narrating the Parable of the Good Samaritan, then he solicits the Lawyer’s response.

Previously, he supplied the information concerning the Law then Jesus asked the Lawyer the question.

Nevertheless, both methods resulted in the Lawyer answering his own question.

What is the Parable of the Good Samaritan About?

Thus, Jesus by narrating the Parable of the Good Samaritan, not only defines who is my neighbour, but he also reveals the qualities a good neighbor exhibits.

Consequently, Jesus could have used any narration of his choice to teach the Lawyer and us his sole lesson.

Note how Jesus reveals the main characteristic of a neighbor.

Surprise, this quality is not love!

He emphasizes that “showing mercy” to a person in need is at the core of being a good neighbor.

Then, he advised the educated lawyer to go and do as the Good Samaritan had done, show mercy to others in distress.


Who is Considered a Good Samaritan?

Jesus was placed in an awkward position by a Jewish lawyer who desired to demonstrate to the people that Jesus does not keep Moses’ Law.

However, he saw through the lawyer’s question, and, in turn, reverse his situation, and taught him a valuable lesson.

Jesus defined the main quality of a neighbor and silenced the pretentious lawyer.

 It is also noteworthy that Jesus didn’t describe the Samaritan as good.

Neither did the Bible call him “good”, we ascribe this adjective to him.

But why? Would we have said the “Good Priest”, or the “Good Levite”?

Maybe not because this is an inherent quality and we expect it of them but not of an infamous Samaritan.

Nevertheless, the Parable of the Good Samaritan or the Merciful Samaritan is relevant to all of us.

For every day we encounter people we need to extend mercy to for their well-being and many times their survival depend on it.

Additionally, we never know when we will need mercy extends to us by others.

Consequently, today we consider anyone who extends mercy to others in need, a Good Samaritan.

But in Jesus’ parable, he was a Samaritan man who assisted another human being who desperately needed help!

How The Parable of the Good Samaritan Relates to Life Today

Today, as you navigate your daily life, seek out someone who needs mercy and extend the same to him or her.

Now, you don’t need to go asking anyone, “Do you need mercy?”

For as soon as you see a person in a particular situation you know the answer.

Nobody needs to tell us when one of us needs the intervention of another of us to sustain our life!

The Bible encourages us to seek peace, so why not seek to administer mercy too?

May you have a day full with your demonstrations of mercy to those in need of it!

Leroy A. Daley

Leroy A. Daley is an author, blogger, YouTuber, and Bible teacher. Globally, he's helped hundreds of Christians understand the Bible better. He has been studying and teaching the Bible for more than forty years. He is passionate about the Lord and spends quality time with the Word of God every day. His Books are available for purchase wherever books are sold.

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