The True Neighbor

The whole parable turns on the phrase, “But a Samaritan. . . .” And, for effect, Jesus used the same verbs. He came, he saw, and . . . oops . . . he took pity on him (he had compassion in his gut for the injured man). This Samaritan was from the wrong race, the wrong place, and certainly had a strange face. We might wonder, How did the neighbor in the ditch feel about this particular neighbor helping him? The injured neighbor’s thinking probably underwent a metamorphosis.

The Samaritan’s compassion moved him to action. Sympathy was not sufficient. He went to the injured man and cared for him with the goods he had (oil and wine). He relieved suffering as best he could. The bloody man on the bloody way was . . . bloody. Mercy can be so messy at times. The Samaritan transported him to the nearest inn and took care of him. The next day means the Samaritan spent the night with the man—now that was extravagant care! It might have been terribly inconvenient to the Samaritan’s schedule.

Before leaving, the Samaritan put up the funds for the man’s long-term rehab.

This is an interrogative parable. It ends with a question: “Which man was a neighbor to the man in the ditch? Notice the turn. The first neighbor in the text was the man in the ditch—he had the needs. The second neighbor in the text was the Samaritan—he showed mercy. The lawyer could not bring himself to say, “The Samaritan,” so he said, “The one who had mercy.” As the conversation ended, the interrogative parable turned into an imperative parable—“Go and do likewise.”

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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