Jesus answered the lawyer’s question with a story rather than a dictionary definition. This parable began in reality, for there really was a road that went from Jerusalem to Jericho referred to as “The Bloody Way.” But for a Samaritan to help a Jew on that road? That was the point at which the true-to-life parable veered into fictional analogy.
The people listening to Jesus might have been only slightly interested in a story of a man being stripped, beaten, and left for dead on that famous road that descends 3,700 feet in 17 miles. Was it nighttime? Was the man alone? Jesus said religious leaders (a priest and a Levite) came down that road, saw the needy man, and passed by on the other side. Since they were coming “down,” helping the man would not endanger their ability to worship, unlike if they were going “up” to the temple. The title of the lesson is “The Story of the Neighbors.” Notice that “neighbors” is plural. There are two neighbors in the text. This first one is in the ditch.
Q. Who is our neighbor? A. Anyone in need.