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An Unlikely Hero

A Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion.
–Luke 10:33

A lawyer asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). He was trying to restrict the term “neighbor” to make it easier to keep God’s law. So Jesus answered by telling a story beginning in verse 30: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead.”

This story is not so much about the victim as it is about the people who walked by the victim. Verse 31 says, “A priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.” We do not know what this priest’s motivation was. It may have been that he had just finished his duty at the temple and he was ready to get home. Or maybe he thought, “I spent years in the seminary to be a priest, not a doctor. That is not my calling.” Or maybe he saw the Levite coming, and he said, “I will let him take care of this. I have more important things to do.” But verse 32 says when the Levite also came to the place, he, too, failed to stop.

Then Jesus told the audience who the hero of the story was. Look at verse 33: “A Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion.” This would have been unthinkable to Jesus’s audience. “A good Samaritan? There is no such thing.” You have to understand the Samaritans’ origin to understand the Jews’ attitude toward them. Seven hundred years earlier, Assyria invaded the northern kingdom of Israel, and they planted some of their people in the capital, Samaria. These Assyrians began intermingling with the Jews, and out of their union came the Samaritans. The full-blooded Jews treated the Samaritans with disdain because they were the result of Israelites who were literally sleeping with the enemy.

But I want you to notice what this Samaritan did with the man who was left for dead. Verse 34 says he “came to him and bandaged up his wounds.” They did not have Johnson & Johnson bandages back then. The only way he could bind up this man’s wounds was probably to tear his own Hickey Freeman garment. Then he brought the man to an inn. The next day, the Samaritan took out two denarii–that was two days’ wages–and gave them to the innkeeper and said, “Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you” (v. 35).

The two religious leaders who walked by were representative of the lawyer’s attitude–they restricted the meaning of “neighbor” so that they could meet that standard of the law. But the Samaritan refused to restrict the meaning of “neighbor.”


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “A Stranger In Need Meets A Neighbor In Deed” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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