The Good Samaritans
by Lois Tverberg
Probably the most familiar parable of Jesus' is that of the Good Samaritan. But we can get more insight when we see it in light of the Scriptures that Jesus knew.
In 2 Chronicles
28, a scene takes place after the nation had split into Israel and Judah.
Judah fell into idolatry, even sacrificing children to idols. Because
of this, the Lord let Judah be attacked and defeated by Israel. The Israelites
were on the verge of taking 200,000 Judeans away as slaves when a prophet
reminded them that God let them defeat Judah as a punishment for idolatry,
and they were guilty for worshipping idols too. He tells them that if
they took their own brothers captive, it would compound their guilt before
the Lord. So some of the leaders of the tribes repent and set the captive
Judeans free, as it says in today's passage.
The Samaritans in Jesus' time were despised by the Jews, and they despised the Jews themselves. They also had a history of attacking Jews who were traveling to the Temple for festivals. This makes the irony of the Samaritan as the one who helps the wounded man especially powerful. Jesus was using this hatred between Jews and Samaritans in His time to make the answer to the question "Who is my neighbor?" especially clear. He surprises his audience by bringing one of their worst enemies into his story. But, more than that, he reminds them that at one time, these same men from Samaria did one of the most merciful things ever done. They had recognized their sin against the Judeans, and realized that their enemies were not only their neighbors, but even their brothers! Jesus was saying that "our neighbor" is even our hated enemy, who really is our brother too.
| ©2003 Lois A. Tverberg, Ph.D., OurRabbiJesus.com. All rights
reserved. This article is copyrighted and may not be redistributed
without the express written consent of the author. To request
permission for use, contact Tverberg@OurRabbiJesus.com.