Archive for July, 2011


Personal: The Good Samaritan

July 11, 2011

My thoughts here are for my edification. I have definite opinions that are, for lack of better terms, of a conservative bent and will most likely offend on some level readers of this blog. My intent is not to offend. Nor is it to open up to debate my personal beliefs. If my beliefs cannot be respected, please do not continue reading this post and come back on another day.

I have been MIA the past week because I have been enjoying time at Bible camp with T2. I don’t like to send them alone. Crazy, it’s Bible camp; I should be able to send them alone. But I like to be there, photographing every little thing, capturing the memories I know they’ll forget without me.

Anyway, my room and board and 1 camper is free if I teach. This year my lesson was Compassion: The Parable of the Good Samaritan. So I start out following the script but I love taking a passage and just expounding on it, making it come alive to the kids (although I start with the disclaimer that my goal is to be the most boring teacher they ever have!). I always end up learning something, either from one of their questions, or from looking at it a new way each day. My comments will be in italics.

Luke 10:25-37

New International Version (NIV)

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25On 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?”

Who was this expert? Why was he trying to trick Jesus and catch him in an error? The expert lawyer was a Jew, and very educated. He had a stake in preserving Judaism. Jesus was making claims, talking about salvation, talking about eternal life. Technically none of this was radical if one truly understood God’s plan but there was a great deal of misunderstanding or putting man’s desires and interpretations on the old Law. Jesus did not come claiming his Way was better but instead that it fulfilled the old Law–as prophesied and told from the beginning (Gen. Ch. 2). Jesus was not coming to say the Son was better than the Father, nor that the Father’s Law was imperfect. The Lawyer wanted Jesus to say exactly that, but knowing the Lawyer’s heart Jesus turned the question back to him.

27 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’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]

28“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

Jesus was making the point that his message was no different from that of the Father. In its simplest form both the old Law and the new were the same–if you love God and love others, you need no other law and therefore living a life loving God and loving others you will live in a manner that will lead you to be obedient and inherit eternal life.

29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

I also think the Lawyer was still trying to test Jesus. The Jews, and in many ways rightly so, believed they were better than those that lived near them. They were after all God’s created nation. They worshipped God and served him. I told the children that perhaps the Lawyer wanted to see who Jesus said was a neighbor because surely it wouldn’t be the Egyptians, the Persians, the Assyrians, the Romans currently occupying Jerusalem. It couldn’t possibly be the Samaritans who the Jews considered dogs.

**This is where I regret that I may have erroneously given the children bad information stating that the Samaritans were distant relatives–they were in fact other displaced people sent back to Israel territory; God had priests sent to these people in order to teach them about God and to worship him in the promised land. They had offered to help rebuild the temple but the Jews refused so they built their own and worshipped God elsewhere; but they  combined worship of God with worship of their native gods. DH said, bottom line is that they were considered second-class citizens by the Jews and this I did get right.

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[c]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.’

We talked about the characters in the parable: the Jews, the priest, the Levite, and the Samaritan. We talked about how the priest and the Levite as revered members of the nation were considered the most godly and the most likely to help those in need. We talked about why the priest might not have wanted to help–laws prohibiting him from touching blood and dead bodies. “I have to be at the temple this month. If I touch him and he’s dead, I’ll be unclean. Surely someone else will come along.” The Levite had similar laws and we talked about how maybe he worried the man wasn’t hurt and was waiting to attack him. I admitted I am reluctant to help a panhandler when I have the children with me for this reason. We talked about how the traveler may have felt all was lost when the Samaritan came by. But the Samaritan only saw a human being in need of help. I pointed out that this may have made him even more trustworthy to the innkeeper who was asked to keep a tab. How many of us would keep a tab on the basis of a promise alone?

36“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

I pointed out that the expert in the law may have still had a problem admitting that the Samaritan was the true neighbor by the way he answered Jesus. He couldn’t bring himself to say “Samaritan.” Jesus repeats in his reply to go and be a neighbor to everyone. He also repeats that his message, by the lawyer’s won admission, was exactly what the old Law stated.

Some of the other lessons of the week talked about gratitude, faithfulness, forgiveness, and grace and were able to bring into the discussion baptism. I was trying to emphasize to the children that God’s plan had never changed and that Jesus was fulfilling the plan. In my allotted time I felt talking about compassion was the focus rather than finding more passages that answered specifically “Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins.” (Acts 2:38) Jesus wasn’t leaving that out but was answering the expert’s question about whether or not he was blaspheming against God and His Law. And talking about compassion was needed with this group of children when there were several incidents during the week of name-calling, teasing, bullying, etc., because others were different or they just didn’t get along. I wanted to emphasize that EVERYONE was a neighbor and we all had to show compassion–that law came from both the Old and New Testament.


  1. Luke 10:27 Deut. 6:5
  2. Luke 10:27 Lev. 19:18
  3. Luke 10:35 A denarius was the usual daily wage of a day laborer (see Matt. 20:2).
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