The Parable of the Good Samaritan
Comments for Study 21
Memory Verse: 28
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I. Do This and You Will Live (25-29)
>1. What did the expert in the law ask Jesus and how did he answer his own question? (25-27)
* Luke 10:25-27 "On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?" 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.'"
* A similar event is recorded in Mark 10:17-31 and Matthew 22:34-40. Those passages have different endings. They do not have the parable of the good Samaritan. So they are different events.
* "On one occasion" -Luke does not follow chronological order with this event. This question ties in well with what Jesus had told his disciples after the seventy-two returned from preaching the kingdom of God. It also ties in well because Jesus had sent the seventy-two into Samaria, the hero of Jesus' parable is a Samaritan.
* "an expert in the law" -This man was probably a well respected teacher of the law, distinguished by his knowledge and debate prowess. He was probably not a Pharisee for in Luke 7:30 and Luke 14:3 they are distinguished from each other. Teachers of the law were responsible for keeping the integrity of the word in writing and understanding. We might say he is doing that here, except his approach to keeping his responsibility retracts from keeping his responsibility.
* "stood up to test Jesus" -Jesus was teaching. Common custom of the day usually had the teacher seated, but at times they stood. Everyone would have been seated listening to the teacher. If someone would ask a question they wouldn't necessarily stand up. To do so would draw unwanted attention on oneself unless someone wanted the attention. Luke records this man's intent was to test Jesus with a common question. Perhaps he felt that Jesus wasn't going to answer correctly, or most probably deeply enough. Since the man became unable to test Jesus beyond what we have here, we can assume that Jesus passed the test.
* "Teacher" -The original Greek is "didaskalos" meaning both "master" and "teacher" combined and often translated "master", "teacher", "doctor" and "lord". Hebrew would be "Rabbi". The use was to show respect and honor to an equal or superior in social rank. Luke often uses this word when he wrote his gospel and is not necessarily the word the man addressing Jesus used, especially since most Galileans spoke Aramaic. Aramaic is akin to Hebrew, and shares a considerable vocabulary with it. It began as the language of Syria and was gradually adopted as the language of international communication. After about 600 B.C., it replaced Hebrew as the spoken language of Palestine. Hebrew then continued as the religious language of the Jews, but the Aramaic alphabet was borrowed for writing it.
* "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" -A common question amongst many, especially the religious educated Jew in Jesus' time. Many want to know how to obtain eternal life, pursuing some fountain of youth. Yet we should pay close attention as to how the average Jew thought about obtaining eternal life from this man's question. He used the word "inherit". The Greek word Luke used was "kleronomeo", a legal term used when sons obtain the position, title, and possessions of his deceased father. The Greek word refers to the disposition of property after death, but its use in the New Testament often reflects the Old Testament background more than normal Greek usage.
In ancient Israel possessions were passed on to the living sons of a father, but the eldest son received a double portion (Deut. 21:17). Reuben lost preeminence because of incest with Bilhah (Gen. 35:22; 49:4; 1 Chron. 5:1), and Esau surrendered his birthright to Jacob (Gen. 25:29-34). These examples show that possession of this double portion was not absolute. Sons of concubines did not inherit unless adopted. Jacob's sons by the maidservants Bilhah and Zilpah (Gen. 30:3-13) inherited (Gen. 49) because those offspring were adopted by Rachel and Leah. Sarai promised to adopt the offspring of her maid Hagar when she gave Hagar to Abram (Gen. 16:2) but went back on that promise after Isaac's birth (Gen. 21:10). Because the several Hebrew words used for inheritance did not necessarily presuppose a death, they could be used in reference to God's granting of the land to Israel (Josh. 1:15; Num. 36:2-4). This is what the man was thinking when he asked Jesus this question this way; he saw eternal life more as a reward to his life of devotion than God's gift to a fallen and forgiven race.
* "What is written in the Law?" -The man knew the answer was in the law. He already knew the answer and just in case Jesus didn't know it he was steering Jesus to the answer. Perhaps he didn't want Jesus to give one of his parable answers. He wanted Jesus to quote scripture.
* "How do you read it?" -Jesus did not answer the man's question; he gave it back to him. Jesus like everyone else in the room knew the scripture and thus the answer to this question. Jesus giving the question back to the man shows that Jesus knew that a trap had been set and the man wanted Jesus to step in it. Jesus did not step in it and even exposed it to everyone by asking this question and thus giving the man a chance to answer his own question. I am always amazed at Jesus' ability to say the right words at the right time.
* "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'" -Quoted at the beginning of most Sabbath gathers since the Jews returned from Babylon captivity.
* "and 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" -This commandment was often but not necessarily added after the former statement during the Sabbath gatherings in synagogues. Nothing new is taught to the then audience with this verse.
* Deuteronomy 6:4-5
>What does this show about the man?
* Consider what would compel a person to interrupt a teaching to ask this question and Jesus' answer. Jesus' ministry was well known among the people. So its unlikely that this man wasn't asking because he hadn't already decided that Jesus was a heretic or uneducated small town hick. He already decided that and was hoping to prove it by having Jesus answer his question.
* He knew the law, but missed its point; to him it was a tool for self promotion not for self improvement and guidance.
* He didn't ask Jesus this question because he wanted to learn from Jesus. He believed he already knew the answer to this question and had fulfilled it.
* Why do we go to God with anything? What is our motive? Why do we wonder about things? Our motive should be examined. If you motive is wrong, then the answer we receive, if we ever receive one, will not be the one we expect.
>Why is eternal life so related to love?
* Luke 10:28 "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."
* "You have answered correctly" -Jesus complimented the experts answer. God acknowledges when we are right. We should do the same for others, especially those close to us.
Jesus wanted this man, those with him, and use that these are the right answer. What he is going to teach us in the coming parable is what it means.
* "Do this" -Jesus challenged him and implied that he hadn't been doing it. The expert in the law was not use to people challenging his integrity as Jesus had done here.
* "Do this and you will live." -Very true. The problem we have is that the sinful nature we possess has kept us from keeping this commandment. We are fully incapable of keeping the greatest commandment perfectly all the time. Most do not realize this.
* "live" -The Old Testament command here refers to eternal life and an abundant blessed life on earth. The problem is that we cannot keep these commands all the time in our fallen state. The sinful nature always is to strong to repell and resist. Though in our spirit we may fully and completely want to do what is right and resist what is wrong, our flesh is currently incapable of doing these. (Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38)
* Eternal life is a love relationship with God and his son Jesus. (John 15:9-17)
* John 17:3 "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent."
* Jesus' life here on this earth is an example on how to fulfill both commandments.
>2. Why did the expert in the law ask Jesus another question?
* Luke 10:29a "But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus,"
* "he wanted to justify himself" -He believed he was keeping these commands and all the other commands of the Old Testament.
* "Justify" -The Greek word "dikaloo means "to demonstrate or prove to be just, right, and/or valid." Being justified means we are free of blame, we are absolved from all guilt. Justified can also be defined as, "God treats me just-as-if-I-did not sin".
* Romans 3:21-24 "But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."
>What was the question?
* Luke 10:29b "And who is my neighbor?"
* He thought it was his family, friends, and other Jews who were like him. We should remember that the teachers of the law did not associate with those they called "common sinners".
>What answer did he probably expect from Jesus?
* He expected Jesus to answer as he had believed. He expected a straight answer. He probably did not expect Jesus to give a parable that showed he fell short of these laws.
* The expert was seeking justification. He thought Jesus believed as he did. Do we believe we are right because of who we believe we are or because of what God says about us? Do we expect God to be on our side, or do we seek to be on God's side?
II. Go and Do Likewise (30-37)
* The engraving to the right is by Leclerc, Jean, (1573-1627). Jesus tells the story of a Samaritan who stops to help a man wounded by thieves, while a priest and a Levite callously pass by the injured man on their way from Jerusalem to Jericho. Courtesy of the Digital Image Archive, Pitts Theology Library, Candler School of Theology, Emory University: http://www.pitts.emory.edu.
>3. What happened to the man going from Jerusalem to Jericho in the parable?
* Luke 10:30 "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."
* "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho" -The road was very dangerous, twisting and turning in rocky terrain as it plunges from 600 meters (2,000 feet) above sea level in Jerusalem to 260 meters (853 feet) below sea level in Jericho, the lowest town on earth. The decent is accomplished in around 30km (20 miles).
* "when he fell into the hands of robbers" -The road was famous for robber gangs. People travelled in groups because of it.
* "They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead." -The man was unconscious, exposed to the hot dry air, wild animals, and the cold night. He was sure to die if no one were to help him.
* If we bother to look we can see many people who are as helpless as this man all around us.
>Who were the men who passed him by?
* Luke 10:31-32 "A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side."
* "priest" -Most formally educated priests at this time were members of the Sadducee sect. The priests were divided up into twenty-four (24) divisions since the time of David. Abijah was one of the "heads of the priestly families". (Nehemiah 12:12, and 1 Chronicles 24:10) Only four divisions returned from the exile (Ezra 2:36-39) which were subdivided so that there were twenty-four (24) again. Estimates of the number of priests at this time range in the thousands. Each division was on duty twice a year for one week.
* "Levite" -The Levites assisted the priests in their responsibilities (Num. 3:5-9; 16:9) by preparing grain offerings and the show bread, by purifying all the holy instruments used in the Temple, by singing praises to the Lord at the time of the morning and evening offerings, by assisting the priests with burnt offerings on Sabbaths and feast days, and by being in charge of the Temple precinct and the chambers of the priests (1 Chron. 6:31-48; 23:1-13,24-32; 25:1-6; and 2 Chron. 29:12-19). Because of their work, the holiness of the Temple was maintained; and the glory of the Lord dwelt among Israel. During David's reign, the Levites were integrated into the administration of the government, including the keeping of the gates, judges, craftsmen, musicians, and overseers of the royal treasury (1 Chron. 9:22-28; 23-26) In Jehoshaphat's time the Levites were involved with teaching the people the word of God (2 Chron. 17:7-9). This responsibility probably continued into the postexilic period of Ezra (Neh. 8:9-12). (Holman Bible Dictionary)
* "Samaritan" -Jesus had just sent seventy-two disciples into Samaria. The Jews and Samaritan had open hostilities for hundreds of years. The Jews considered the Samaritans half breeds both physically and spiritually. (John 4:9, 20-22) The Samaritans were a mixed-blood race resulting from the intermarriage of Israelites left behind when the people of the northern kingdom were exiled and Gentiles brought into the land by the Assyrians. (2 Kings 17:24)
>Why might they have passed by without stopping to help?
* "priest... passed by on the other side" -Since the man was half dead bodily touch would be needed to see if he was dead or alive. Leviticus 21:1-4 states that priests would become ceremonially unclean if they touched a non-family member's dead body. All this means is that he would be unable to perform the functions of a priest, not that he would be excluded from the community or God's temple. The priest in Jesus' parable made a choice that helping someone in need, even a stranger was a lesser function, or even not a function of a priest. He did not accept the command to love your neighbor was more important than burning incense in the temple.
* "Levite... passed by on the other side" -Like his counterpart the Levite decided a dying person is not his main concern and interest.
* "passed by on the other side" -They did this to ensure that even liquids would not touch them. It was possible to lean over the man to see if he was breathing, but they weren't going to take any chances.
>What does this suggest about the religious leaders of the time?
* Lack of love is easy to self justify.
* They loved their position more than others.
* They rationalized their actions due to pride.
* They never believed their were sinners in need of God's help. They believed they could live perfectly.
* I wonder if the priest and Levite decided the man deserved to be robbed and beaten. Perhaps they thought was a drunk.
* The engraving to the right is by Eck, Johann (1486-1543). The Good Samaritan leads the wounded man into Jericho on his donkey. Courtesy of the Digital Image Archive, Pitts Theology Library, Candler School of Theology, Emory University: http://www.pitts.emory.edu.
>4. What did the Samaritan think about the injured man when he saw him?
* Luke 10:33 "But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him."
* "a Samaritan" -The audience probably expect Jesus to have the third person to be a Jewish layman. They must have been shocked to learn it was someone they themselves did not like.
* "when he saw him, he took pity on him." -Pity is a form of love only when we act upon it. The Samaritan acted upon the compassion already in his heart.
* I am more like the priest and Levite at times than the Samaritan.
* A good heart acts naturally in love towards others. A selfish heart naturally acts in love towards self. Jesus left heaven to help the fallen dirty sinful race.
* This man wasn't going around looking for the injured man. He just happen to come upon him in his travel.
>How did he serve him?
* Luke 10:34 "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."
* "He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine" -Standard medical treatment for the day.
* "Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him." -Having a donkey with him meant he was carrying goods, perhaps on a business trip.
* Serving is practical as Jesus himself shows us.
>What was his expenditure in money, time, and effort?
* Luke 10:35 "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.'"
* "two silver coins" -Someone told me that the Samaritan's expenses including these two coins cost around $US130, a day or two wages.
* "when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have." -The man had to trust the inn keeper. He left the expenses open, leaving himself vulnerable.
* The man had things to do like the priest and Levite. Yet he was willing to sacrifice to help someone in need.
* Anyone who travels for business like I do knows that all that is on the mind is going and returning as fast as possible. The man Jesus portrays as fulfilling the law of love goes against human sinful nature.
* The coin to the right is from Antigonus Mattathias II (40-37 B.C.). He was the last Hasmonean ruler. The debased prutah shows the Menorah but other coins did not. He lost his throne to Herod the Great. (Atlas of the Bible Lands, Harry Thomas Frank)
>What is Jesus teaching us here?
* Luke 10:36-37 "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."
* "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor" -Jesus forced the man to publicly finish the parable by stating the moral truth. He could never say that he didn't understand it.
* "Go and do likewise." -Again Jesus challenged the expert to live as he claimed he believed.
* Love is practical.
* The expert in the law said nothing.
>5. Why do you think that Jesus picked a Samaritan to be the hero of this parable?
* Luke 9:51-53 "As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem."
* Luke 10:1 "After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go."
* James 2:8-13 "If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!"
* 2 John 1:5-6 "And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love."
* 1 John 3:10 "This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother."
III. But Only One Thing is Needed (38-42)
>6. How did Martha receive Jesus and his disciples?
* Luke 10:38 "As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him."
* Luke uniquely records this visit to Martha and Mary's house. He begins recording many such events unique events starting in Luke 9:51 (or 10:1) and going till Luke 18:14 (i.e., the sending of the seventy-two in 10:1-23, a unique visit to Martha and Mary's house in 10:38-42, ten healed of leprosy in 17:11-19). Much in these eight plus chapters are parables unique to Luke's gospel. (See a chart comparing Jesus' parables by using the link above.) Luke 18:15, Matthew 19:13, and Mark 10:13 record the same event, people bringing little children to Jesus. The events only recorded in Luke's mid-chapters seems to document events that happened during Jesus' trip to Jerusalem for the Feast of Dedication (winter) as John 10:22 records. Jesus was crucified during the Feast of Passover (spring). If these facts are true than its possible that Luke 13:22, 31, 14:25 or Luke 17:11 or Luke 18:31 documents the start of Jesus' final trip to Jerusalem. (See chart to the right.)
* "As Jesus and his disciples were on their way" -Luke is now continuing the sequence of events since Jesus left Galilee.
* "he came to a village" -She lived with her siblings in Bethany according to John 11:1.
* "where a woman named Martha opened her home to him." -A kind act. The disciples would also be invited. Jesus is mentioned because he was the guest of honor.
>How did this show her love for Jesus?
* Martha was courageous. The religious leaders had labeled Jesus as a heretic. Anyone associated with him was under threat to be thrown out of the local synagogue, the center of Jewish society. (John 9:22, 12:42)
* Bringing in so many people was expensive.
* Hospitality towards God's people is always good. (Mark 9:37)
* Martha practiced the kind of love that Jesus taught in the parable of the good Samaritan.
* Martha prepared a meal for them. She did not think it to low for her to serve these guests.
>What did Mary do?
* Luke 10:39 "She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said."
* "She had a sister called Mary"
* "who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said."
* She loved Jesus and his teaching.
* She had a personal love relationship with Jesus.
* The engraving to the right is by Fontaine, Nicolas (1625-1709). Martha works as Mary listens to Jesus. Courtesy of the Digital Image Archive, Pitts Theology Library, Candler School of Theology, Emory University: http://www.pitts.emory.edu.
>7. What does Martha's complaint about Mary to Jesus show about her?
* Luke 10:40 "But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"
* "But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made."
* "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"
* Martha was serving, but she didn't find joy in it. She wanted it to be over with as soon as possible. Her complaint about Mary was more about her burden, than about Mary's laziness.
>How is her demand reasonable in itself?
* Mary should have been helping according the common practice of the day. The Jewish society of that day had the women preparing the food that the men had worked to get. Her society would agree that Mary should have been helping.
* Martha was tired.
* If we work hard for the kingdom of God with the wrong attitude what good is our efforts? I must admit there are times when working endless hours on these web pages that I'm like Martha, wanting it to be over with and doing something else.
>Why is she wrong?
* The teaching Jesus was giving was soon about to end. Martha would not have much opportunity to learn from Jesus was she did at this time.
* Her attitude was not right. She was judging Mary improperly.
>8. How did Jesus counsel Martha?
* Luke 10:41-42 "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."
* "Martha, Martha" -Shows his love for her.
* "you are worried and upset about many things"
* Jesus did not condemn; he helped her realize her heart attitude.
>Why did he not send Mary to help Martha?
* "Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."
* Martha made a chose that was not bad, but she could have chosen better.
* Bible study, learning of Jesus' truths is more important than working.
>What is one thing that is needed, the one thing that Jesus wants the most from those who love him?
* "only one thing is needed." -A love relationship with Jesus.
>9. How do the teaching of the parable and the lesson taught in Martha's house compliment each other?
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