Drawing near

good_samaritan“Go and do likewise.” This seems like a pretty clear command from Jesus. You just heard the parable of the Good Samaritan, so what is it that you are to go and do likewise? Clearly the context for the parable is Jesus’ effort to tease out the scholar of the law what it means to love God and to love one’s neighbor – that’s the theory of it, but what are practical elements of the divine command? The scholar of the law never gets to that “because he wished to justify himself.” He asks Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” And that is where the proverbial rubber hits the road. Even if the scholar figures out who his neighbor is, there are the practical matters of “doing.” Jesus words punctuate the ending: “Go and do likewise.” Continue reading

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Good Samaritan: thoughts

I AM the Good Shepherd2But why a Samaritan?  Brian Stoffregen has interesting insights into this answer: If Jesus were just trying to communicate that we should do acts of mercy to the needy, he could have talked about the first man and the second man who passed by and the third one who stopped and cared for the half-dead man in the ditch. Knowing that they were a priest, Levite, and Samaritan is not necessary. If Jesus were also making a gibe against clerics, we would expect the third man to be a layman — an ordinary Jew — in contrast to the professional clergy. It is likely that Jewish hearers would have anticipated the hero to be an ordinary Jew. (see note on Luke 10:29) If Jesus were illustrating the need to love our enemies, then the man in the ditch would have been a Samaritan who is cared for by a loving Israelite. Continue reading

Good Samaritan: parable

I AM the Good Shepherd2The Parable. Culpepper [229] identified the central character as being noticeably undefined. He is not characterized by race, religion, region, or trade. He is merely “a certain man” who by implication could be any one of Jesus’ hearers. The phrase “a certain man” (anthrōpos tis), however, will become a common feature of the Lukan parables (12:16; 14:2, 16; 15:11; 16:1, 19; 19:12; 20:9). Jesus’ audience no doubt imagined the man to be Jewish, but Luke’s audience may have assumed he was a Gentile. The point is that he is identified only by what happened to him. Continue reading

Good Samaritan: neighbors

I AM the Good Shepherd2Who is my neighbor? But because he wished to justify himself… And who is my neighbor?” One wonders why the scholar did not “quit while he was ahead?” It is almost as though the scholar’s first question was entrée to the real question about who is (or is not) neighbor. In Leviticus 19 the word root neighbor (-ger) include fellow Israelites, but also stranger and travelers. While that Semitic custom remained present in Jesus’ time, the Pharisees also professed extensive limitations on interactions with non-Jews. (m. Abodah Zarah 1:1, 2:1-2, 4:9-10) To “justify himself” the scholar raises the disputed question about the identity of the neighbor. When the scholar added the Leviticus text, one may well speculate that the scholar’s understanding was that “neighbor” included only one’s fellow Israelite. Continue reading

Good Samaritan: questions

I AM the Good Shepherd2A Question About Inheriting. There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” The setting is not entirely clear. Jesus spoke to the disciples privately in v. 23, but now he is addressed by a lawyer. The lawyer’s question is readily understandable following Jesus’ blessing of the disciples in vv. 23–24 for what they have seen and heard. What if one has not seen and has not heard what the disciples were privileged to see and hear? Is there any hope for them? The scholar asks a good question, even is there some sense of opposition in the asking of the question (ekpeirazō – put to the test).  It is perhaps notable that in Mark and Matthew, the question asks what is the greatest of the commandments and Jesus is the one who provides the answer. Jumping ahead just a bit, Jesus does not answer the scholar’s question, instead asking his own question, receives an answer (“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”) and accepts the scholar’s answer: “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” Continue reading

Good Samaritan: context

I AM the Good Shepherd225 There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” 27 He said in reply, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 He replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” 29 But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. 32 Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. 33 But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. 34 He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ 36 Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” 37 He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” Continue reading

Being neighbor: in the ditch

good_samaritanThe Samaritan. A Samaritan was the last person who might have been expected to help – actions which reveal more than simple help, but a great deal of compassion. He attended to the beaten man. Wine would have been used for cleaning the wounds (the alcohol in it would have had an antiseptic effect). Oil, i.e. olive oil, would have eased the pain. The two appear to have been widely used by both Jews and Greeks. Perhaps a touch of irony is included as oil and wine were commonly used in Temple sacrifice. The wounded man was too weak to walk, so the Samaritan set him on his own beast (which meant that he himself had to walk), and so brought him to an inn. There he took care of him. The Samaritan did not regard his duty as done when he had brought the man to shelter. He continued to look after him. Continue reading

Being neighbor: to who?

good_samaritanWho is my neighbor? But because he wished to justify himself… And who is my neighbor?” One wonders why the scholar did not “quit while he was ahead?” It is almost as though the scholar’s first question was entrée to the real question about who is (or is not) neighbor. In Leviticus 19 the word root neighbor (-ger) include fellow Israelites, but also stranger and travelers. While that Semitic custom remained present in Jesus’ time, the Pharisees also professed extensive limitations on interactions with non-Jews. (m. Abodah Zarah 1:1, 2:1-2, 4:9-10) To “justify himself” the scholar raises the disputed question about the identity of the neighbor. When the scholar added the Leviticus text, one may well speculate that the scholar’s understanding was that “neighbor” included only one’s fellow Israelite. Continue reading

Being neighbor: inheriting

good_samaritanA Question About Inheriting. There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” The setting is not entirely clear. Jesus spoke to the disciples privately in v. 23, but now he is addressed by a lawyer. The lawyer’s question is readily understandable following Jesus’ blessing of the disciples in vv. 23–24 for what they have seen and heard. What if one has not seen and has not heard what the disciples were privileged to see and hear? Is there any hope for them? The scholar asks a good question, even is there some sense of opposition in the asking of the question (ekpeirazō – put to the test). It is perhaps notable that in Mark and Matthew, the question asks what is the greatest of the commandments and Jesus is the one who provides the answer. Jumping ahead just a bit, Jesus does not answer the scholar’s question, instead asking his own question, receives an answer (“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”) and accepts the scholar’s answer: “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” Continue reading

Being neighbor: context

good_samaritan25 There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” 27 He said in reply, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 He replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” 29 But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. 32 Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. 33 But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. 34 He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ 36 Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” 37 He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

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