The Good Samaritan Parable is a popular and powerful New Testament Bible story that teaches the foundation of what it means to live a Christian life.
It’s the example Jesus used when He was asked what the greatest commandment is. After describing that loving ‘the Lord Thy God’ with your whole being is the most important, the second is loving your neighbor as yourself. To that, He was asked, who is our neighbor?
Jesus used the Good Samaritan story to describe what it means to love your neighbor.
The Lessons from the Good Samaritan still speak to us today. But do we keep the spirit of the Parable of the Good Samaritan message alive in our daily lives? Do we put into practice the Good Samaritan lessons it represents?
The Parable of the Good Samaritan (also listed below), is included in only one Gospel, Luke 10 25-37 NIV. Although Jesus describes the greatest commandments in the Gospels of Matthew 22:34-40 and Mark 12:28-34, the actual parable is told only in Luke.
- The Parable of the Good Samaritan Summary:
- The Idiom 'Good Samaritan'
- What is the moral lesson of the Parable of the Good Samaritan?
- How does the Good Samaritan Parable relate to life today?
- The Parable of the Good Samaritan Message
- The Parable of the Good Samaritan
- Luke 10 25-37 commentary – The Parable of the Good Samaritan
- More Parables!
The Parable of the Good Samaritan Summary:
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’. Jesus answered the lawyer’s question using this parable, which explained to them (and us) what being a neighbor entails.
At the time, Jewish tradition was not to associate with Samaritans. In the parable, a Jewish man was stripped, beaten, robbed, and left half-dead lying on the side of the road. The wounded man was ignored by a passing priest and Levite, both of whom should have been his allies, as religious leaders and fellow Jew.
The least likely person to help him was the Samaritan, but he was the first person who did the right thing and stopped to help the injured man, thus being a true neighbor. He brought him to safety and ensured the man’s wounds would be cared for.
The Idiom ‘Good Samaritan’
The widely-recognized idiom ‘Good Samaritan’ originated from this Good Samaritan story. The man who helped the dying man happened to be from Samaria, thus a Samaritan. At that time, the Jewish people considered the Samaritans foreigners and didn’t associate with them. From Jesus’ parable, the word samaritan came to represent a person who does a good deed for someone in need, particularly when they haven’t been asked for help and there’s no reward for doing so.
What is the moral lesson of the Parable of the Good Samaritan?
The Parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us several lessons, but the heart of the message is to love one another even if… Even if we’re busy, tired, late, don’t know them, or don’t like them or their religious belief – we are still called to love.
You’ll see that this message is inherent in all five lessons discussed below. Let’s take a closer look.
How does the Good Samaritan Parable relate to life today?
Conflict, mistrust, and hate still exist today between groups of people. We still see prejudices and segregated neighborhoods. People still disassociate with others based on all sorts of self-righteous criteria.
The spiritual lesson of Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan is as relevant today as it was more than two thousand years ago.
We are called to help those in need, EVEN IF. We are called to help even if the person is Jewish and we’re Samaritans. We’re called to help even if the person doesn’t look like us, speak our language, or believe in our God. We’re called to help even if the person has snubbed us or hurt us.
We are called to help those in need. Period.
This challenge was no easier for those who heard Jesus speak the words than it is for us today. If it seems to be an impossible task, remember that with God all things are possible! Matthew 19:26
The Parable of the Good Samaritan Message
While the overarching message in the story of the Good Samaritan is to Love One Another Even If, there are several specific messages that apply to everyday life. Following are five takeaways to encourage your Christian journey. Call upon the Holy Spirit to lead you to the ‘right answer’ when the challenge arises.
1. Love Your Neighbor as Yourself Means Love ‘Everyone’
The Samaritan and the injured man were enemies by the world’s standard, but Jesus doesn’t ask anything of us that’s based on a worldly standard. He doesn’t care if we’ve allowed hate in our hearts. He made it very clear that His greatest commandment is to share God’s love with one another:
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.John 13:34-35 NIV
He actually said we MUST love one another. By stopping to help the wounded man, the Samaritan showed the kind of love we are all called to show.
When we reach out in love and kindness toward those the world tells us to hate, we show our love for Jesus.
2. Helping the Person Who Needs Help is Helping Christ
Jesus described that when we help those in need (like the Good Samaritan did), we’re actually helping Him. When we see someone in need, we’re seeing a ‘brother or sister’ of Jesus. Wouldn’t we help Jesus’ family?
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’Matthew 25:34-40 NIV
3. The Only Thing That Matters is What You Do
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.Romans 12:10 NIV
The Good Samaritan likely had things to do and places to be. He had a life and obligations. He may have been inconvenienced to help the hurt man, but he wasn’t deterred.
He put his life aside for the moment and did what was required to make sure the poor man got the help he needed.
When God calls, do we listen? When he puts a circumstance in our path, do we walk around it, as the Jewish priest and Levite did, or take it on, as the Samaritan did? When there’s no ‘good answer’, do we let our obligations and worldly wishes get in the way of loving our neighbors as Jesus asks of us?
A good intention that is never acted upon is worth nothing in God’s Kingdom. What matters to Jesus is the action we take in the form of the help and support we give to those in need.
4. Don’t Let Labels Fool You
Most people would feel disappointed to see a priest walk past a person dying in the street. The label of ‘priest’ elevates that person to a high standard in our mind, so we would expect the priest to help someone who was hurt. A priest, by definition, is not necessarily a Christian.
In a similar way, someone whose ideas, culture, and race are different than yours is not, by definition, your enemy. It’s only by looking at the actions of someone that we get a glimpse of their true character.
Actions speak louder than any label, so don’t judge a person by their title or appearance. People are not always who they seem to be.
Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.Matthew 7:15 NIV
5. Don’t search for a reward
There was no obvious benefit for the Good Samaritan to help the fallen man. Our human nature makes us more willing to be inconvenienced or help someone when there’s a reward at stake.
Maybe the reward is impressing someone or bringing attention to ourselves. Maybe we think our good deed could bring a financial reward.
When there’s something in it for you, your actions aren’t in the true spirit of the Good Samaritan message. The best reward that comes from helping someone when there’s nothing in it for you is knowing that your actions are pleasing to God by caring for His people.
This is NOT to say that these works ‘get you into heaven’, because there’s no such thing. Good Samaritan actions are ways we show our love for Christ.
I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.Jeremiah 17:10 NIV
Parables of Jesus Devotional Book – Coming Soon!
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
The online version can be found at Luke 10:25-37 NIV.
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
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 was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 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. 34 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. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[e] 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?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Luke 10 25-37 commentary – The Parable of the Good Samaritan
There are several reputable Bible commentaries to help you get the most understanding and impact from reading your Bible. My personal go-to is Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary. You can find several free commentaries through Christianity.com.
If you want to purchase a physical copy of a commentary or other study tools, here’s a link to Bible commentaries on Amazon.* (Note: This affiliate link results in no extra cost for you.)
Follow the link for free Matthew Henry Concise Commentary on Luke 10:25-37. You’ll be able to switch to another commentary once you’re there.
Do you love the parables as much as I do? You may enjoy reading life lessons on these others (listed below), these activities for adults and children, or this list of Parables and Meanings. More parable lessons are underway. See them all HERE!
Do you love journaling? Does writing down your personal reflections help you process your thoughts more fully? Perhaps these Christian writing journals will be helpful as you reflect on the life lessons of the parables.
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