Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalemto Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side.So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.And the next day he took out two denariiand gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’
The parable of the Good Samaritan is one of the most-commonly taught parables of the Bible. It’s also one of the shortest and, seemingly, one the most simple.
But, like all things in the Bible, there are deeper layers of meaning and symbolism. More than one theologian has noted the following could be true in the story:
Jerusalemis the HolyCity, symbolizing man’s nature before the fall.
Jerichois the fallen city.
The robbers represent the devil, whom the Bible calls “a thief,” among other things.
The Priest and the Levite symbolize the Law and its sacrifices.
Samaritans were despised and rejected, as was Jesus.
The oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit.
The wine symbolizes the blood of Christ.
The inn is the church and the innkeeper is those who work in the church.
The Samaritan promises to return and repay the innkeeper, just as Jesus promises to return and repay all according to their works.
Some theologians (John Calvin among them) disagree with such an interpretation, but the point of the parable is always that our neighbor is anyone in need and that we, as Christians, are called to have compassion on them and help them.
Most of us surely would stop to help someone bleeding and half-dead if we saw them, but there are so many people right here among us who are beaten and lying by the side of the road on the inside.
They may not look like it, and some may not even think they are, but the pain and the wounds are still there—and the wounds become infected and grow worse with each passing day if nothing is done.
It may be hard to see, but it is visible. It comes out in harsh words, or negative attitude, or criticism of others, or drug abuse, or addiction, or a thousand other ways that look like whoever you are talking to is just a rotten person, but deep inside they are in incredible pain and what they are doing is what they thinkthey need to make the hurt go away.
Jesus can heal that pain.
As believers, we can anoint the hurting with the oil of gladness given by the Holy Spirit. We can tell the wounded and half-dead that the blood of Jesus washes away the pain of sin. And they can be healed!
To do that, we need to listen to the wounded. We need to walk over to their side of the road and hear their stories. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to fill us with compassion for all they have lost and all their pain.
And, once we have begun to heal their wounds, we need to put them on our own animals and bring them into the church where they can complete their healing.
Do you know someone, Christian or not, who needs their wounds washed and bandaged? Could you share a story of how the Holy Spirit saved someone who was hurting and beaten up by life?
Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.