The parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us who a neighbour is and how to love a neighbour.
WORDS: MADHURI. Y
Teachings in the form of stories have a way of lasting for centuries. In case of Jesus Christ’s parables, they have lasted for millennia. Comprising a large part of Christ’s teachings, they come to us through the gospels of Mathew, Mark, and Luke and are believed to be in the words of Christ himself, and hence from the Father, God.
The parable of the Good Samaritan is one such story, holding layers of teaching within it. The parable goes beyond the concept of simply helping someone in need.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
A person of law once asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus asked him, “What is written in the law?”
The man replied, “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 love your neighbour as yourself.” He then asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbour?”
In answer, Jesus narrated the parable of the good Samaritan. “A man was going from Jerusalem to Jericho when robbers attacked him. They beat him, stripped him of his clothes and left him half-dead. A priest who was passing by saw the man, and walked on the other side of the road without stopping to help him.
So did a Levite.
But a Samaritan took pity on him, poured oil and wine, and bandaged his wounds. He put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day, he gave two denari to the innkeeper, and asked him to look after the man. He also told him that he would reimburse any extra expense that the innkeeper might incur.”
Jesus then asked the man of law, “Now which of these three do you think seemed to be a neighbour to the man who fell among the robbers?”
The man answered, “He who showed mercy on him.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
Although the story is clear in itself, the social context of the time throws light on Jesus Christ’s teaching.
During the days of Jesus, Jews despised the Samaritans. According to the social structure, the priests came first, then the Levites, then the Jews, then the tax collectors, outcasts and sinners. After these people came the Samaritans, placing them lower than the outcasts. Yet, it is the Samaritan who comes to the man’s rescue.
It is interpreted that the man who was robbed was a Jew. Yet, the Samaritan stops to help him, giving his time, effort and money for the man’s well-being.
With this parable, Jesus teaches that it is one’s actions and not social standing that is important. He also highlights three attitudes which stand in contrast to one another. First, the robber whose attitude is ‘what is yours is mine’. Second, the priest and the Levite’s attitude, ‘what is mine is mine’ and finally the Samaritan’s attitude, ‘what is mine is yours’.