The story of the Good Samaritan is one of the most well-known and loved Bible stories. Many children learn it in Sunday school as a wonderful example of how to be kind and caring to others. And indeed, in the story we see the priest and temple helper fail to show compassion to the badly beaten man. But we see the Samaritan go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the beaten man has every chance of recovery.
What we may not have realized, however, is that the priest and temple helper were actually prohibited by the law of Moses to go and touch the beaten man. Because he had been left for dead, if these servants of God had touched him, they would have been made unclean and incapable of fulfilling their roles in the worship at the temple.
But Jesus’ listeners knew this. And Jesus seemed to be shaming two of their own leaders to elevate the status of a man whose people were profoundly despised by the Jews. Samaritans. There was a long standing feud between Samaritans and Jews. They had blasphemed each other’s worship practices for generations.
And Jesus says that this Samaritan man was actually the one who fulfilled the law of Moses – not the priest and temple helper who were so careful to not become unclean.
The implications are radical to Jesus’ listeners. Jesus is saying that to really live the spirit of the law, they must learn a compassion and care and love for those they despise the most!
Jesus is introducing his radical ethic of love for enemies. He is breaking dividing walls of hostility. He is teaching a new unity where all the peoples of the earth will be embraced as God’s children.
All loving God
Your heart is for the whole world to be restored through your love. Our imaginations and hearts are too small. Enlarge us with your love. Give us your passion for those who seem so very different from us.
Through Jesus, who loves diversity and includes all, Amen.