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Parable of the Good Samaritan.
C Luke X. 25–37.
c 25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and made trial of him, saying, Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? [For the term lawyer see pp. 313, 314, The lawyer wished to make trial of the skill of Jesus in solving the intricate and difficult question as to how to obtain salvation. Jesus was probably teaching in some house or courtyard, and his habit of giving local color to his parables suggests that he was probably in or near Bethany, through which the road from Jerusalem to Jericho passes. The lawyer stood up to attract attention to himself, and thus give emphasis to his question and its answer.] 26 And he said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? [Looking upon Jesus as a sabbath-breaker and a despiser of tradition, the lawyer no doubt expected that Jesus would lay down some new rule for obtaining salvation. If so, he was surprised to be thus referred to the law of Moses for his answer.] 27 And he answering said, 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 neighbour as thyself. [Deut. vi. 4, 5; Lev. xix. 18. Having made himself conspicuous by standing up, the lawyer had to give the best answer he knew or sully his own reputation for knowledge. He therefore gives the two great laws which comprise all other laws.] 28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. [The lawyer had asked his question simply as a test. With him the law was simply matter for speculation and theory, and the word “do” was very startling. It showed the difference between his and the Master's views of the law. He had hoped by a question to expose Jesus as one who set aside the law, but 476Jesus had exposed the lawyer as one who merely theorized about the law, and himself as one who advocated the doing of the law.] 29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor? [He could justify his conduct if permitted to define the word “neighbor.” He asked his question, therefore, in the expectation of securing such a definition of the word as would enable him to maintain his public standing and quiet his conscience.] 30 Jesus made answer and said, A certain man [evidently a Jew, for otherwise the nationality would have been specified] was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho; and he fell among robbers, who both stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. [The road from Jerusalem to Jericho is eighteen miles long, and descends about 3,500 feet. About two miles from Jerusalem it passes through the village of Bethany, and for the rest of the eighteen miles it passes through desolate mountain ravines without any habitation save the inn, the ruins of which are still seen about half way to Jericho. This district from that time till the present has been noted for robberies, and Jerome tells that the road was called the “bloody way.”] 31 And by chance a certain priest was going down that way [a very natural thing for a priest to do, for there was a very large priestly settlement at Jericho]: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. [He did this although the law commanded mercy and help to a neighbor—Ex. xxiii. 4; Deut. xxii. 1–4.] 32 And in like manner a Levite also [A temple minister. The tribe of Levi had been set apart by God for his service], when he came to the place, and saw him, passed by on the other side. [In the priest and Levite the lawyer saw the picture of his own life, for he saw in them those who knew the law, but did not practice it. There may have been many excuses for this neglect of the wounded man: danger, hate, dread of defilement, expense, but Jesus does not consider any of them worth mentioning.] 33 But a certain Samaritan [the hereditary enemy of the Jew—John iv. 9], as he journeyed, came 477where he was: and when he saw him, he was moved with compassion, 34 and came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on them oil and wine [the ordinary remedies for wounds— Isa. i. 6]; and he set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And on the morrow he took out two shillings [the shilling or denarius was worth about seventeen cents, but it represented the price of a day's labor], and gave them to the host [the inn-keeper], and said, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, I, when I come back again, will repay thee. [The compassion of the Samaritan bore full fruitage. However heterodox he was, he was after all a worshiper of Jehovah and more orthodox at heart than either the priest or the Levite. Though it was not customary for an inn-keeper to furnish food either for man or beast, he could do so if he chose out of his own stores. The scant cash left by the Samaritan indicates a poverty which made his charity the more praiseworthy. His eye and heart and hand and foot and purse were all subservient to the law of God.] 36 Which of these three, thinkest thou, proved neighbor unto him that fell among the robbers? [Instead of answering didactically, “Everybody is your neighbor,” Jesus had incarnated the law of neighborliness in the good Samaritan, and had made it so beautiful that the lawyer could not but commend it even when found in a representative of this apostate race. He showed, too, that the law was not for causistry but for practice.] 37 And he said, He that showed mercy on him. [The lawyer avoided the name Samaritan so distasteful to his lips. Jesus gave countenance to no such racial prejudice, even though the Samaritans had rejected him but a few weeks before this—Luke ix. 53.] Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise. [All the laws and teachings of God are to be generously interpreted (Matt. v. 43, 44) and are to be embodied in the life—Matt. vii. 24–27.] 478
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