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The Parable of the Good Samaritan, Part Two

Rev. Michael Calvert, Ph.D., September 1, 2019
Part of the The Parables of Jesus series.

Our summer preaching series on ‘The Parables of Jesus’ will come to an end this Lord’s Day as we complete our look at ‘The Parable of the Good Samaritan’ in Luke 10:25-37.

Popular expositions of this parable seem to take a common path, arriving at a similar conclusion. It is often assumed that the point of this blessed story is purely an ethical one. That is, the parable is told by Jesus in order to show us that the Gospel is about loving whoever is in our pathway, especially the needy.

In the hands of more progressive interpreters, the parable is then singularly applied to all types of perceived social maladies, from racism, income inequality, mistreatment of the marginalized and the oppressed, to discrimination in all its forms, and the like. The Gospel, then, is reduced to love, our love for the weak, the needy, and the vulnerable. In the words of the lawyer in the parable, one “inherits eternal life” by loving oppressed people.

However, such an approach to this parable is unfounded and misses the point completely. While all would agree that love is central to the Gospel, the popular interpretation of the parable only tells part of the story, and it gets the Good News totally wrong!

If we take the time to read the parable very carefully, and with the immediate context and the rest of Scripture in view, we see that Jesus is not at all suggesting that the essence of the Gospel is loving others. To the contrary, Jesus is demonstrating the absolute impossibly of earning one’s own redemption by the practice of love!

This parable, then, destroys a popular assumption about love. Namely, that the love which God requires is easy to supply!

However, as we carefully trace this story to its conclusion on Sunday, we will discover another truth being taught by our Lord. It is one that will surprise us, alarm us, and render us helpless before our Father’s sovereign grace. But it will also shine the light on something truly amazing!!

Luke 10:25-37

25And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 26He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? 27And he 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 neighbour as thyself. 28And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. 29But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? 30And 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. 31And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. 33But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34And 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. 35And 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. 36Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? 37And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise. (KJV)