The concept of the Good Samaritan has been elaborated by biblical critics in different ways, and it has been applied practically in our times. For instance, there is a law that has been in effect in many countries, which adopts the principle. This paper presents an analysis of the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25. First, it identifies the main concepts emphasized by Jesus in this parable; second, it analyzes the allegory and imagery employed in it, citing some sources.
Third, it relates how the parable can be applied in the modern times, and finally, it posts a challenge to Christians toward reform of attitude.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan and Its Essence to the Modern Man
Every time we see people lying on the streets, dying in the cold, begging for food, money, or care, we are reminded of the parable told by Jesus in Luke 10:25, also popularly known as The God Samaritan.
In the parable, Jesus was asked by a lawyer, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” According to critics, the man asking Jesus was a well-versed man in the Law of Moses, thus he is termed in the Bible as a lawyer.
He asked Christ not because he did not know the way to eternal life but because he wanted to test Christ’s wisdom. Christ, aware of the purpose of the asking, asked the lawyer in return, “What is written?” to which the man answered, “Love thy neighbor as thou love thyself.” So Christ told him to do what was said and he will live but the man, eager to evaluate Christ’s accuracy, asked again, “Who is my neighbor?” and so Christ told this parable.
Analyzing the allegory presented in the parable, it is said that the man who was robbed was coming down from Jerusalem to Jericho. This juxtaposition, according to some critics give a contrast of the two cities, with Jerusalem as the city of God while Jericho as a sin city. Likewise, Jerusalem stands for the kingdom of God which will be restored while Jericho was the city doomed to destruction. Given this juxtaposition, it is believed that the man in the parable is Adam, who came from the paradise and was perished or made to come down to the world due to his sin. Moreover, when he came to Jericho, the man was robbed and stripped of his clothes.
This signifies the man’s corruption and his being robbed of innocence and grace from God. Then, the priest and the Levite who came and did not help the man were the people who knew the scriptures but never cared to save the sinner. This, according to critics represents the fact that no prophet was able to bring salvation to mankind. It could also mean that knowledge of the law without practice will not make a man attain salvation. The Samaritan who came to rescue the victim was Christ himself.
He healed the wounds of the man and put oil on his head which signifies anointing with the holy oil to some or similar to baptism. Christ also healed his wounds—that is, atoned him of his sinfulness, and carried him to the city, which is similar to the carrying of the cross. The Samaritan took care of the man in an inn which is believed to be the Church or a place for healing, and he entrusted the man to the innkeeper which could be the head of the Church or Peter. He instructed the innkeeper to watch over the man, and told the keeper that he will pay what the man owed when he returned—which depicts the second coming of Christ when he will save us from our debts.
Bible critics also suppose that Christ’s use of the Samaritan as the good neighbor is a mock to the Jews who always thought that they were the most favored race. During the time of Christ, the learned men of the Jewish tribe felt a kind of superiority among others because the Son of God was said to descend from their ancestry. However, despite all the prophecies pointing to Jesus as the Messiah, the Jews were still so blind not to recognize Him. To this day, some Jews still do not recognize Christ as their Messiah. This is why in the parable, we see the lawyer soliciting Christ’s views in relation to his queries.
Furthermore, if we read between the lines, we can denote based on the parable how the early people regarded the view of eternal life. They were knowledgeable in the law and were concerned about salvation. Moreover, we can say that the issue of morality and salvation occupied their minds unlike the people of today. The scriptures were the subject of their discussions in public places, and they challenged teachers to answer their queries.
These days, however, people are more concerned about what they will eat, do, or buy. Material things and career occupy most of our minds unlike the earlier people. This may be due to advancement in civilization, which requires that we work and satisfy our physical needs in order to live. However, we should not forget that our life on earth is just a preparation for the future or the time when the “Good Samaritan” will come again.
Applying the parable further to our present life, we note that just like the man who came down from Jerusalem to Jericho, people keep on repeating the same experience of being robbed and stripped of their clothes. People prefer to go to Jericho or commit sin, and lose innocence. Also, there are modern-day priests and Levites who just pass by these victims and cannot save them. In fact, considering the attitude of the priest and the Levite who did not show compassion, we can see a lot of people bearing this attitude.
Most of us would not care about others, and would not share what we have to those in need. Oftentimes we just stare or even sneer at them for their misfortunes. For instance, if we see some youngsters holding some cocaine, would we have the courage to approach them and tell them that is wrong? Probably not. What we would probably do is to pass by and look at them, just like the priest and the Levite in the parable. Furthermore, if we see our neighbors fighting, would we have the guts to approach them and tell them not to quarrel? Similarly, we may not be able to tell them what to do. We may not be able to play the role of the good Samaritan.
By telling the parable, Christ emphasized at least two important messages. One, to make the teachers of the law and his audience know that there are no boundaries to God’s mercy and kindness, or salvation is not only for the Jews. Two, Christ is imparting the message that we should treat each other as our brothers and sisters, even though the person is a Jew, American, Asian, European, or African. As our brothers and sisters, we must help them in times of need, may it be material or spiritual.
To note, the concept of the good Samaritan has been used as a basis for the Good Samaritan Law which is being practiced by various countries all over the world. This law exempts any individual from liabilities of performing medical assistance to anyone in time of great need or emergency. To note, Princess Diana may still be alive today if the people who witnessed their accident observed the French rule in relation to this principle. Moreover, we can figure out that a lot of people would have a more stable life if we adhere to this concept and the value of helping others in times of need.
In a world of skepticism, hedonism, and selfishness—where people are more concerned of their own comfort above everything else, it is good to ask, do we still care about our neighbors? Are we concerned about eternal life as much as the people in the time of Christ? Looking at history, we see early Christians who suffered in the hands of their oppressors greatly concerned about inheriting eternal life, but in contrast, people in our time seem to live more for comfort and not for attaining perfect happiness in heaven. People nowadays rarely think about their neighbors. We seem to have forgotten the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
In addition, we should also consider Christ’s message of looking at people based on what they do and not on where they come from. Up to this time, racial discrimination still exists in our society. In His parable, Christ is showing us that God does not judge people based on their ethnicity or origin. By giving the Samaritan as a good example, He is convincing us not to judge people based on their race but on how they act or what good things they do to others. Aside from this, He is also convincing us that treating the needy as our brothers, and caring for them are the way to salvation.
In this sense, what are we here for? Are we not here to do as Christ taught us—that is, to be a good Samaritan? This simple question challenges every Christian to propagate the idea of being “my brother’s keeper”.
In a more positive perspective, the idea of the good Samaritan is also evident in our society. In particular, there are international organizations such as the United Nations which helps people around the world through their programs. For example, there is the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) which advocates the rights of every child, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) which assists developing countries to improve economic life, United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) which cares for AIDS victims, United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) which protects women from violence, and upholds their rights, etc.
Similarly, there are countries who serve as good Samaritans to other countries by providing assistance to them. Such countries include the U.S.A., Canada, Japan, etc. By doing this, the principle of the Good Samaritan is being practiced in that people are helping those in need regardless of their nationality. However, there are cases where the concept of Christ is also forfeited like when the one giving assistance would ask for help in return. At times, the country being helped provides support or services to the donor country, or is asked to sign agreements that it will accept imports.
If we are to take seriously the challenge of helping those in need, the world will probably attain an ideal state of culture of peace. When that time comes, maybe there will be no more hunger, sickness, or war. Only then can we say that we have been good Samaritans, and we are entitled to “eternal life”.
Funk, R.W. (1982). Parables and Presence. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
Gospel Communications. Luke 10:25 The Parable of the Good Samaritan. Retrieved November 28, 2007, from http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=49&chapter=10
Hunter, A. M. (1960). Interpreting the Parables. Westminster.
Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). (1997, September 3). Laying Down the Law. Retrieved November 29, 2007,
Tolbert, Mary Ann. (1979). Perspectives on the Parables. Philadelphia: Fortress.
United Nations Development Group. UNDG Members. Retrieved November 29, 2007, from http://www.undg.org/index.cfm?P=13
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The concept of the Good Samaritan. (2017, Mar 28). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/the-concept-of-the-good-samaritan-essay