'And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
'And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
'And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
'But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
'And went to hi, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
'And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the hose, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come gain, I will repay thee.'
Here we have Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan. Certainly one of our Lord’s more well-known parables which are recorded in the Gospels. Jesus had been asked by a certain lawyer What he had to do to inherit eternal life. The lawyer did this not because he sought the Lord, but rather the Bible tells us he did so tempting our Lord. No doubt, he was looking for some way in which he could trap the Lord Jesus Christ in His words as the Pharisees were wont to do. Christ responded to the lawyer’s question with a question of His own asking what the law said he should do. The lawyer responded with what our Lord called the two great commandments (Matt. 22:36-40): 1) Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind, and 2) Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Christ told him that he answered rightly, but the lawyer was looking for some way to justify himself and so asked who his neighbor was.
The Jews while they lived in and among Gentiles did not consider them neighbors worthy of anything under the law. To the Jew only another Jew could qualify as a neighbor concerning this commandment. No doubt, this lawyer had been very neighborly to those of his faith whom lived around him. He wanted Jesus to confirm that this was the case by declaring who exactly his neighbor was. It is then that Jesus relates to him the parable of the Good Samaritan. At the end of the story Jesus has the lawyer declare who was the neighbor in the story. Instead of justifying himself with the Lord’s answer he rather condemned himself because he had not been one to show mercy upon all men regardless of their status in life.
1. A certain man
Here we see a certain man passing from Jerusalem down to Jericho. Notice that he is leaving the city of God and going down to a city which had a curse pronounced upon it (Joshua 6:26). We are not given the reason for his going down nor is it necessary for the purpose of the Lord’s parable. We see, however, that as he travels down the road he falls among thieves. This road was well-known for this during Christ’s time on this earth. It was a treacherous road that wound its way downhill and held many places for which a thief could hide in wait for some lone traveler to come along. These thieves stripped the man of his raiment no doubt taking any valuables which he possessed at the time. They did not stop there however, but proceeded to wound the man leaving him half-dead there on the side of this lonely trail. They showed no mercy in their dealings with this poor traveler. Indeed, they prOBably thought that he would die from their beatings before someone would come along to find him. By all rights they had not only rOBbed this man of his clothes, but in their mind had committed murder as well by leaving him there to die.
We can see a parallel to this elsewhere in Scripture. In Genesis 2 we see Adam and Eve dwelling in the Garden of Eden. We can see them having sweet fellowship with the Lord as they walked and talked with Him. In Genesis 3 we see their descent from where God had put them down to a cursed place. Just as that certain man traveled down from Jerusalem, the city of God, to Jericho, a cursed place, so we see Adam and Eve. God had given them only one commandment in the Garden - not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They had untold numbers of other trees from which they could take their fill, but they chose instead to disOBey and go after the one thing they could not have. While traveling down this road we see that they were attacked by a thief and a murderer. That old serpent attacked us on that road. He stripped us of our raiment, that righteousness which we were clothed with before sin, and then left us for dead. After the Fall, mankind was as good as dead. We were alive in the flesh, but dead in the spirit. He left us there mortally wounded believing that we would die in our sins before someone would come along to save us.
2. A certain priest
Jesus tells in the parable that by chance a certain priest passed that way. This was not an intentional act, but rather it was happenstance. The priest was also traveling down to Jericho as the verse reads. Jericho during the time of Christ was where many of the priests lived. This made it convenient for them to travel to Jerusalem when it came time for them to perform their duties in the temple. Christ tells us that this priest saw the wounded traveler but passed by on the other side apparently without even bothering to stop. Perhaps the priest feared for his own safety and well-being or else he thought the man already dead and beyond saving. How sad it is that the one whom should have had compassion on him held none at all.
Here we can see a picture of religion. The Jews of Christ’s time were known for being religious. They held to their traditions and teachings going through the motions of their religion, but they lacked a true heart-felt desire to follow after God. Religion today has not changed much since then. Religion still places an emphasis on the traditions of what has been done and continuing to do those things. Religion can not help a person fallen in sin. Religion is only looking for those who can contribute to its cause. It wants those who can pay for the services rendered to them. Religion will not save us out of our sins.
3. A certain Levite
Here we see the next character in Christ’s parable - that of a Levite. These were the ones who were responsible for working in the temple. They kept up the temple and assisted the priests in performing their duties. The Lord tells us that this Levite when he came to where the man had fallen did not simply pass by on the other side. Instead, we see him actually stopping to look upon the man before passing by. Perhaps he felt some miniscule amount of compassion upon seeing the man so badly beaten and stripped of his raiment. Maybe he thought to help the man but had no idea of how to go about doing so. In any case the result of this Levite coming across the man was the same as when the priest had come by. The man was still left in a fallen state, wounded to the point of death, indeed he was dying.
Here we can see a picture of the Law and good works. The Levites were known for their works which they did in service to the temple and the priests. But we see that good works and the Law could not help this man. All the good works in the world can not save a man fallen in his sin. It has been said that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. People all across the world are attempting to save themselves based on their good works which they perform, but it will all be for naught. Just as religion could do nothing for this man and indeed left him in the exact same state it found him in so do good works. Performing good works may soothe our conscience and may make us feel good about ourselves but it can do nothing for the wounds caused by sin. It can do nothing to heal us of the death blow which was given there in the Garden when man fell.
4. A certain Samaritan
Now we get to see the star of Jesus’ parable - the Good Samaritan. We see that he did not just happen by this way, but we see that he was actually journeying along this path. We also see that he did not just pass by the traveler. He did not look upon him and then continue on his way. Rather, Christ says that he had compassion on him. He felt for this poor traveler’s plight and wanted to do something to help. The Samaritan went to this poor traveler and bound up his wounds. He spent of his own substance in caring for the man. First we see that he poured oil and wine into the man’s wounds to help in healing them. He then placed the man onto his own beast to ride while the Samaritan walked leading the animal along the path. He took the wounded traveler to an inn where the Samaritan remained overnight in order to take care of him. The next morning he departed leaving with the innkeeper money to cover the expenses the traveler might accrue while recuperating from his wounds. This Samaritan showed compassion upon someone whom he did not know, who very likely would have left him to die had their roles been reversed, who could do nothing to save himself, nor to even pay back the Samaritan for his kindness.
Praise God that one day as I was traveling down a road of destruction, wounded by sin, unable to save myself that THE Good Samaritan, the Lord Jesus Christ, stopped to save my life. The Lord Jesus Christ did for me what I could not do for myself. He came traveling down that road not by chance, not by luck, not by mistake; but, rather, He journeyed along that path. When He came to this earth it was for a purpose and that purpose was the Cross. He came with the intention of doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. He chose to leave the comforts of Heaven and come to this earth so that He could go to the Cross to save us from that path of destruction.
Christ found us there on that path of destruction wounded by sin to the point of death. Before we were saved when Christ first found us we were lost in our sins. We were dead in our trespasses unable to save ourselves. When Christ found us, though, He did not leave us the way we were. He bound up our wounds of sin and healed them. He brought us back from death and gave us a new life in Him. He took us in and cared for us at His own expense. He has never and will never ask for payment for what He has done. Indeed, we could not pay if asked to. Christ came to this earth and died on the Cross paying our sin debt that we could not pay ourselves. The devil had left us destitute, beaten down in sin, with no way to pay the debt; but Christ in His loving compassion paid that debt for us.
Praise God for that wonderful Saviour who came to us and saved us from our sins. He took care of us when we could not take care of ourselves. He saved us when we could not save ourselves. He paid our debts when we had no way to pay. He died on Calvary for us so that we might have life in Him. Should we not live our lives in service to Him pleasing Him with our lives.