I have always found the parable of the Good Samaritan confusing. It doesn’t help that virtually all preachers and devotionals teach an error.

The Good Samaritan by Steven Sawyer

The Good Samaritan by Steven Sawyer

“Love your neighbour.” I get that. The traveller attacked, robbed, beaten and left for dead. We should help. Jesus told this parable to explain the commandment in Leviticus 19:18, “Never get revenge. Never hold a grudge against any of your people. Instead, love your neighbour as you love yourself. I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:18 God’s Word). I get that, too.

But notice that the victim of crime is NOT THE NEIGHBOUR!

That’s where I get confused.

Now I get that the Samaritan was hated by the Jews. I searched for a type in our culture which would evoke the same kind of reaction and came up with a First Nation woman who is a lesbian and had an abortion and was a prostitute who had been jailed for trafficking drugs to kids. So I get that we should love all people.

But the parable shows the Samaritan helping a victim. The priest and Levite didn’t help because it would have tarnished their religious sensibilities. That means the priest (clergy) and Levite (lay religious worker) don’t make the list as neighbours.

Am I the only one confused by all this?

Yesterday afternoon Paraclete very graciously gave me eyes to see and ears to hear.

The Good Samaritan by Aimé Morot (1880) shows ...

The Good Samaritan by Aimé Morot (1880) shows the Good Samaritan taking the injured man to the inn. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Samaritan, the hated and contemptible one, the helper and compassionate one in the parable, stands as a glaring reminder that we are weak and fragile and vulnerable. Ever since the Garden of Eden people have wanted to believe the devil who said, “God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened. You’ll be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5 God’s Word). The original sin is wanting to be god.

So the neighbour points to our sin and our rebellion and our infinite frailty. We are to love the one who reminds us of our pride and unfounded confidence in the flesh.

Do you love those who correct you, want to help you when you can’t do it on your own, honestly show the fragility of humanness and make you look helpless instead of powerful?

And this love coincides with our love for ourselves! If you think more highly of yourself than you should, and love yourself for the power you wield or the successes you can list you will NOT love your neighbour. If you have learned the wonder and peace of true humility under an infinite God then you will love your neighbour indeed.

Finally, it makes sense.

Living it, well, that’s the next step.

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