Gospel Words: 14. The Samaritan and His Neighbour

Luke 10:30‑37  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 7
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This parable is the Lord’s answer to the lawyer’s question. And who is my neighbor? A conscience not at ease finds difficulties; the heart that is animated by love answers at once, because it finds none. Every sorrow or need makes an appeal to it, and never in vain. Flesh under law being self-occupied, has neither room nor time for others.
“A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho; and he fell among robbers, who, having stripped and beaten him, departed, leaving him half dead. And by coincidence a certain priest was going down by that way; and on seeing him passed on the other side. And likewise also a Levite, when he came to the place and saw, passed on the other side. But a certain Samaritan on journey came to him, and when he saw him was moved with compassion, and came up and bound his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and setting him on his own beast he brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow he took out and gave two denaries to the inn-keeper, and said to him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou shalt spend more, I at my coming back will repay thee. Which of these three, seemeth to thee to have been neighbor of him that fell among the robbers? And he said, He that showed him mercy. And Jesus said to him, Go and do thou likewise” (vers. 30-37).
Grace and truth in Christ changed all. It was not only from earth to heaven now acting on souls who believed, but love that raised above our own things, imitating God, as the Apostle puts it, like dear children, Christ Himself the motive and power no less than pattern.
Man’s sad lot is graphically shown in him who was going down from the place of religious privilege and pride to that of the curse, and fell in with robbers who took his all and beat him, leaving him half dead. Earthly priesthood, and earthly ministry, wholly failed. Only the despised One availed; and none was more despised or hated than a Samaritan, unless it were the One Who exceeds all comparisons. He on His errand of love, far from passing by and shutting up His inmost feelings of compassion, came up and bandaged the wounds, pouring on soothing and cleansing grace, dismounted to raise up the wretched one now comforted, and took him under His care. Doubtless it is the Lord’s congenial sketch of practical grace for the lawyer’s help; but it is the shadow of His own path day by day, and far indeed from exhausting or even describing what was deepest in His work.
Nor is His love satisfied with thoughtful beneficence for the present; He charges himself with the future in terms all the more striking, because the figure is homely. How full and transcendent is the love which is not bounded by ties of flesh or obligations of earthly duty, but flows from a divine and eternal spring from within, and only finds objects of need without to act on, no person too repulsive, no need beyond the resources of grace. “And on the morrow He took out and gave two denaries to the inn-keeper, and said to him, Take care of him, and whatever thou shalt spend more, I at my coming back will repay thee.” Yes, His provision while absent is adequate, whatever the unbelief may think of it as of Him; and when He returns, what repayment where He is trusted! What forfeits, where He is scorned! Even the lawyer could not but feel the appeal, and own the superiority of that mercy which the Lord depicted and exemplified. If he ever did in like manner, it must have been through the faith that received the Savior and realized the truth and love of God in Him.
God Himself is now acting on such love, though shown in a way infinitely more profound in giving His own Son up to compassionate, save, and bless the powerless and ungodly. It is no question of a claim but of ruin in man and of grace in Himself: only the work of Christ makes it righteous in God, and us righteous in Christ. Such is the efficacy of His death on the cross.
How does it affect you, dear reader? It finds you a lost and rebellious sinner. Such you have been really, whoever you are and whatever you may have seemed to yourself or other men. You may have sought and provided a religious veil; but it is of no more value in God’s eye than the web the spider weaves. Their webs, says the prophet, shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works; their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands. For none are prouder or more bitter than natural men under a veil of religion. The way of peace they know not, and there is no judgment in their goings. They have made their paths crooked: whoso goeth therein knoweth not peace.
All depends for efficacy on Christ alone. He it is Who brings God to man and man to God; but it is vain for me or you or any that hear the gospel unless we believe on Him. This is to submit to the righteousness of God, Who is ever found in His grace, by him who truly owns his sins in the faith of Christ. Oh, fellow sinner, dare to be thorough in confessing what you have done and are at the feet of Jesus Who never rejects one that comes confiding in the call of God. It is what God delights in; it is to vindicate Him and honor His dishonored Son, the all-worthy One, in the face of every foe, and of all our own sins and unbelief. Do not drop this call to your soul. You cannot pretend that you do not need the Savior; or that you are now pleasing God Who summons you to believe in Him. Turn to Him therefore at once, and confess your guilt and evil, but doubt not His grace. Look not away till you rest on Him and His precious blood which cleanses from every sin.