Last evening the Life group which my wife, Leonora, and I host studied Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) guided by The NIV Serendipity Bible for Study Groups’s questionnaire for beginning groups.
LK 10:25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
LK 10:26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
LK 10:27 He answered: ” `Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ ; and, `Love your neighbor as yourself.’ “
LK 10:28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
LK 10:29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
LK 10:30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. `Look after him,’ he said, `and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
LK 10:36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
LK 10:37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (NIV. All Biblical quotations are from the NIV.)
The questionnaire, which I’d distributed the previous week, was divided into two parts, Looking into the Scriptures and My Own Story. We shared our answers.
Looking into the Scriptures
The first three questions asked if we thought that Jesus knew that the Samaritans were people of mixed ancestry and religion (1 Kings 17:24-41), that the road from Jerusalem to Jericho was dangerous because of robbers who waylaid travellers, and that a person who touched a corpse was unclean for several days (Numbers 19:11). We agreed that he knew these things.
The next two questions asked if we thought that the priest and the Levite were justified in passing by the wounded man if there was a good chance that the wounded person was playing dead to trap them or if they were in a rush to get to their religious duties in Jericho. Although we sympathized with the priest’s and the Levite’s situation, we felt that they weren’t justified in passing by the wounded man.
The last two questions were multiple-choice questions:
– Why do you think the Samaritan stopped when the others “passed by on the other side”?
– Why do you think Jesus told this parable in response to the lawyer’s question, “Who is my neighbour?”
We didn’t agree in our answers to these questions. For the first question our most popular answer was that the Samaritan knew what it mean to be a hurting person and have people pass by, and for the second question we were divided between Jesus’ telling the parable to let the lawyer answer his own question and his telling it to use the case history approach which lawyers use.
My Own Story
1. What do you do when people come up to you on a street corner and ask for a handout? – Besides answering the question, we had an interesting and enlightening discussion of what we thought we should do when this happens.
2. Now that you’ve read this parable, who would you say is your “neighbour”? – Our most popular choice was that based on the parable our neighbour is anyone who approaches us with a need.
3. If you had to call upon someone outside of your family at 3 o’clock in the morning because of a deep personal problem, on whom would you call? – We were divided among our pastor, a close friend, and someone who had conquered the problem. We also agreed that even before calling on one of them, we should take the problem to God in prayer.