Lynn Cohick thinks this famous parable is about what we’re willing to risk for others.
The parable of the Good Samaritan is something that just resonates in Western culture. We’ve got hospitals called The Good Samaritan. And it’s our ideal, it’s what we all aspire to – that we would help someone who is weak, who looks helpless.
The story also has some other characters in it: we’ve got two Jewish leaders, a Levite and a priest who pass by on the other side of the road. And we all hope that we’re not like them, refusing to help someone. It’s hard to know why those two Jews didn’t stop and help their fellow Jew. It wasn’t necessarily because they would become unclean – the law indicates that if someone is hurt, you can help them. Even if it’s Sabbath, you should help a person who is in danger of dying.
Martin Luther King Jr wondered if maybe what those two men thought about was, if I stop and help, what will happen to me? And Jesus was saying, look, the question you need to ask is: what will happen to him if I don’t help? And so the story of the Good Samaritan is really a story about asking us to get out of ourselves, and really to look carefully at others – and then take the risk. If he stopped and helped the man who was sick, would the Samaritan have also been robbed? Well, he was willing to take that risk. And that’s, I think, what’s at bottom of the story of the Good Samaritan. Are we willing to risk, in order to help others?