If a friend, family member, co-worker, or a fellow church member were to be come homeless, most of would offer to do something to help that person. It may be a village that moves to help that person, but we all be part of it I would hope.
So, what is the difference between that scenario and helping a homeless person you pass on the street. Now I understand there are some that present themselves as homeless that are not but what about the true homeless. Are you the ones that cross the road or are you the Good Samaritan?
Luke 10:25-37 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, what is written in the law? how readest thou? And he is answering said, 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 thy neighbor as thyself. And he said unto him, thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, and who is my neighbor? 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 him, 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 host, and said unto him, take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
We start off with a legal expert, most likely a Pharisee who’s trained in the law, trying to entrap Jesus into a confrontation to discredit Him. Basically, he is asking what he must do to inherit eternal life. It is stated that there is a difference in the way the question was asked in account of Matthew but still reflecting the same idea. Jesus responds appealing to the law as he is speaking to a legal expert.
The lawyer’s answer parallels Jesus’ teaching in Matthew and Mark about the greatest commandments.
Mark 12:28-31 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
These commands reflect the heart of Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of God: love of God and love of neighbor. The legal expert seeks to support his claim to be righteous (perhaps only in his own mind) and presses Jesus to define the term “neighbor.” Jesus’ response begins what we know today as the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
Now we are on the road going from Jerusalem to Jericho. The road drops about 3,500 feet over ten miles.
The certain priest refers to a religious leader of Israel. Priests performed sacrifices, maintained the temple, and provided instruction. Demonstrating his lack of compassion for the injured man. Since the priest was leaving Jerusalem (and likely the temple), it is unlikely that he was concerned primarily with matters of ritual purity.
Next a Levite comes down the road and passes on the other side. They are a member of the Levi tribe. They perform various functions in the temple.
Samaritan Jews and Samaritans despised each other (see note on 9:52). For Jesus’ audience, the idea of a good Samaritan would have been a contradiction. The people of Samaria were of mixed Israelite and foreign descent, so the Jewish people did not accept them as part of the Jewish community. The hostilities between Jews and Samaritans dated all the way back to the late sixth-century B.C. The Samaritans worshiped Yahweh and used a version of the Pentateuch as their Scripture, but they worshiped on Mount Gerizim, not in Jerusalem. Thus, the Samaritans were despised by Jews for both ethnic and religious reasons; there was mutual hatred by the Samaritans toward Jews.
The Samaritan had compassion. With a Samaritan playing the positive role—and a priest and Levite in negative roles—Jesus’ parable would have been shocking. It shows the extreme universality of the term “neighbor” and demonstrates the depths of mercy that should be extended to all people. He used olive oil and wine to promote healing and prevent infection. At the Inn, he paid two denarii for the innkeeper to keep him till he returned. In the New Testament a denarius was equal to labor for a day. In the book of Revelations, after the third seal it is listed as a quart of wheat and three quarts of barley. Today it would be worth 87.00. The amount paid was roughly worth two months at the inn which indicates the severity of the injuries.
The one who showed mercy to him Jesus’ parable prompts the lawyer to consider what it means to be a neighbor to someone rather than how to identify who is to be considered a neighbor. You go and do likewise Jesus’ response imply that all people are to be treated as neighbors—with mercy and compassion.
The moral of the story is that you should put aside your differences and help those who need help. The Samaritan did not think about the race or the religion of the man; he just saw a man who needed help.
We are going to end this at this point. But next week we are going to look at some of the myths that surround homelessness, how they relate to us today and what the bible says about them.
You must love God and your neighbor. These are two of the greatest commandments.