Charity vs Prejudice
Samaria was to the north of Judea. Down through the generations (prior to the First Advent) it became a mixture of Jewish and Gentile intermarried descendants. With prejudice, they were rejected and looked down upon as something of a lower class of people. Needless to say they were resented by the mainstream Jewish leadership.
The Samarian was from far away. He was not a local as the priest and the Levite were. So the Samarian was the stranger to the area and the injured man was a definite stranger to him as well. The injured man was a local, but from the context he was not a wealthy man, just the poor victim of a crime. The priest and the Levite were local, and just traveling between the two neighboring towns.
There are two approaches to this parable. The first is that the injured man was Christ in effect. He was looked upon and ignored in that anyone who does not care for one who belongs to God, is in effect rejecting God himself.
42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ 44 ‘Then they themselves also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry , or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ 45 ‘Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ NASB
Though the priest and the Levite were supposed to be caretakers of the scriptures, they were irresponsible in their commission of disseminating its purpose to the people to whom they were supposed to serve. They instead saw the masses as their own servants, rather than the opposite. They walked right on by and ignored their greater responsibility to life. Any believer in Christ who does not pursue his spiritual responsibilities is guilty of this same fault.
Even when asked, the scribed could a not state the Samaritans identity. He, the scribe though a lawyer and an educated man was intensely prejudiced. He only responded in an obscure fashion.
Knowledge of the law is useful to make us acquainted with our own sinfulness and need of a Savior. However it is not he who professes kindness that really loves us most, but he who will most deny himself that he may do good in times of need. Good moral conduct requires us to do good to ‘all’ people, however ‘accidentally’ we may become acquainted with their difficulties. One never knows when the opportunity will come upon us to help, in charity, another person in need.
The man is not identified so his circumstances and character are not relevant. It is the mental attitude of the giver that is important when attending to the needs, real or imagined, of another. The recipient could be faking their circumstances, or their circumstances could be very real. Again those details are irrelevant.
One of our responsibilities in life is to come to the aid of those in need. God provides us with the situation and the means with which to assist.
The Samaritan did not put lavish care upon the hurt man, but he did aid to the extent that it was within his means.
Now the second view, is that the injured man represents the human race. Satan and his angels came along and injured and robbed mankind and left him for dead. Hopeless and helpless along side the road, mankind is incapable of caring for himself. Without aid, he would have died. Moses and his Law, Aaron and his sacrifices, patriarch, prophet, and priest, these were powerless and could not and did not come to the aid of the man. Along comes a Savior, Jesus Christ, who without any prejudice, offers the tenderest of care. Note that Jesus gives tender detail in the Samaritans aid to the needs of the injured man.
The price of the injured mans needs is paid, and man is left in the good care of an innkeeper until the return of the helping Samaritan. Who then will pay the final balance of the costs of the continued care for the man.
Jesus Christ controls history. He is the single and only source of all our needs. From heaven, through Jesus Christ, all support and sustaining power comes to mankind.
The original question posed before we entered into this parable was, ‘what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’
Without holiness no one can see the Lord, that is, no one can inherit eternal life, and in this parable two kinds of holiness are presented – the spurious and the genuine. The spurious holiness is that of the priest and Levite, two officially holy persons. Spurious holiness is sanctity divorced from charity. They talk a lot, but do nothing.
In the person of the Samaritan the nature of true sanctity is exhibited. We are taught that the way to genuine holiness, is often found in the practice of charity. That is the application of Bible Doctrine to ones daily life – without prejudice.
Merely knowing the law (scripture) is not enough. One must apply what he knows to his daily life in order to obtain a complete life.
The question here is not answered directly. The scribe (lawyer) asked how to gain eternal life, but before one can see God and obtain life through faith, one must first overcome his prejudice toward ‘truth’ in life, and then from that point the eyes may be opened to greater truths of life.
Likewise after one has believed in Christ, knowledge and growth does not stop, but one is again confronted with the everyday problems which affect us and others. How we approach them will determine our true attitude toward God first, and then mankind second.
Do we close our lives up with steel walls and not allow anyone else in, to the prosperity we know? Or, do we come to an understanding that it is God who ultimately provides us with everything that we have. God is able to provide for everyone, therefore we should not withhold charity nor even opportunity to others who might be in need. In effect we all as members of the human race have a need for support. God does not withhold it from us, why then should we withhold aid or opportunity from others?