The Good Samaritan.  It’s the name of several hospitals, a few charities, and a common analogy for helping your fellow man.  You hear it everywhere, and you assume that everybody has the some understanding of the story.  The original Good Samaritan was the man that helped the wounded Jew when two of his kinsmen passed on by him.  He was a good man when others were selfish.  That’s the message, right?  Yes…but there’s more.

You see, Samaritans and Jews did not get along.  Samaritans had been sent by the Babylonians to occupy the Israelite towns during the exile.  And when God’s people returned to their land, the “Promised Land,” these people refused to observe the same practices as the Jews.  The Samaritans quickly became second class citizens in the eyes of the Israelites.  They were resented, looked down upon, and treated badly pretty much every day of their lives.

Putting the story in context with the way that Samaritans were viewed and treated, it changes it completely.  It goes from some nice dude stopping to help a stranger to a persecuted man coming to the rescue of one of his worst enemies.

When we apply this story to modern times, we often thinking about giving a hamburger to a homeless person or helping a single mom change a flat tire.  We picture starving children that need our money or friendly faces that need somebody to talk to.

But now that we know more about who a Samaritan was in that time period, the modern application is much different.  It becomes less fluffy and doesn’t look so much like a Hallmark movie.  It’s more like putting yourself on the line to help somebody that you have been conditioned to despise.  It’s like risking your reputation, and maybe even your life, to save your enemy. 

So if we really want to be Good Samaritans, we need to start treating our enemies the way that we want to be treated, giving to those that would never give to us, and doing all that we can to love the unlovable.  We need to go above and way beyond our comfort zone if we want to love our neighbor as we are commanded.

So, if you would, be a little more careful with the Good Samaritan analogy from now on.  It has much more depth than we usually give it credit for.  That pretty much applies to everything Jesus said.

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