During His ministry, Jesus frequently challenged conventional wisdom, and He also encouraged His followers to radically demonstrate God’s love. He often did this through the use of parables. Jesus used these short stories to relay important instructions and lessons in ordinary language. There are more than 30 parables in the Bible, each with its own dynamic lesson.
The Good Samaritan is a popular and powerful parable that teaches what it means to love your neighbor. The widely recognized expression ‘Good Samaritan’ originated from this parable. A Good Samaritan is a person who helps someone in need, regardless if there is no reward or if it’s inconvenient. When Jesus explained that the way to eternal life is to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves, He was questioned about the definition of ‘neighbor.’ He used the parable to explain what it means to love our neighbors.
The parable can be found in Luke 10: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 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. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.”
At the time, the Samaritans and Jewish people didn’t associate. In the parable, the man that was beaten, robbed and left half-dead lying in the street was a Jew. He was ignored by a passing priest and Levite, both of whom should have helped. The least likely person to help was the Samaritan, but he was the only one who did.
The message this parable teaches is as important today as it was more than 2,000 years ago. We are called to help those in need, even if the person doesn’t look like us, speak our language or have our same belief system. We are called to help those in need.
Although conflicts and hate exist today between groups of people, God commanded that we must love one another. We show the love of Jesus through our actions of loving our neighbors as God has loved us.