25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.”
VERSE 27 It is interesting that this man of the law would quote something regarding love and not some ritual or set of rules. *The standard set here is one which no one could keep.
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.”
VERSE 30 There is a road that goes down from Jerusalem to Jericho. It is 17 miles long and drops about 3,000 feet in those 17 miles. It has long been a hazardous trip due to thieves and robbers.
VERSE 30 Jesus intentionally leaves the man undescribed. The audience, being Jewish, would naturally assume that he was a Jew. Being in this half dead state he would be unconscious.
VERSE 30 Since he is stripped, he then is unidentifiable. Historically, a person can be identified in one of two ways: his dress and his speech, i.e. dialect. The man is any person: void of ethnic background, void of stature, and void of position.
31 “A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.”
VERSE 31 The priest was most certainly riding because he was in the upper classes of society. The poor walk.
VERSE 31 If the person lying there is a non Jew the priest could be risking defilement, especially if the person were actually dead.
VERSE 31 Priests were supposed to be ritually clean, exemplars of the law. There would be immediate shame and embarrassment suffered by them at the expense of the people and their peers for such defilement.
VERSE 31 If defiled, he would need to return and stand at the Eastern Gate along with the unclean. In addition to this humiliation involved, the process of restoring ritual purity was time consuming and costly. It required finding, buying, and reducing a red heifer to ashes, and the ritual took a full week.
VERSE 31 The priest is in a predicament!
32 “So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.”
VERSE 33 The relationship between the Jews and Samaritans was one of hostility because of some bad things that happened in the past. According to the Mishna, "He that eats the bread of the Samaritans is like to one that eats the flesh of swine" (Mishna Shebiith 8:10).
VERSE 33 The Mishna is the oral traditions that developed about the law, containing interpretations and applications to specific questions which the law deals with only in principle. Specifically, it is the collection of these traditions.
VERSE 33 The Samaritan is not a gentile. He is bound by the same law as the Jews. The Samaritan would not be naturally from that area, so the half dead man would certainly not qualify as his neighbor.
34 “He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him.”
VERSE 34 The Samaritan risks defilement. He approaches this unidentifiable man and helps him.
35 “The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’”
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
VERSE 36 Jesus refuses to define who a neighbor is. Instead He asks a question proving something greater than the exact answer anticipated.
VERSE 36 Being a neighbor to someone is not limited to family relations or proximity.
VERSE 36 Jesus expounds on the law of love. True love is put into action. It is not merely at concept or a feeling.
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, Go and do likewise.”
VERSE 37 The Samaritans were so hated by the Jews that perhaps this lawyer did not want to comment on a "Samaritan" and instead said, "the one who showed mercy toward him."
VERSE 37 The discussion began with a question: what must I do inherit eternal life. The conclusion is answered with what must be done.
This story of Jesus attacks racial prejudices. This story of Jesus teaches that love is something you feel and do.