25) And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26) And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” 27) And he answered, “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.” 28) And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” 29) But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30) Jesus replied and said, “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. 31) And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32) Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33) But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, 34) and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35) On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ 36) Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” 37) And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”
An expert in the law approached Jesus wanting to know what he must do to inherit eternal life. This question is the basis for the entire parable of The Good Samaritan.
In familiar fashion, Jesus answers the question with another question. “What does the law say? How do you read it?”
After the lawyer’s response was deemed correct, the lawyer seeks to justify himself, as we all sometimes do, by asking, “Who is my neighbor?”
Instead of answering that question with another, Jesus tells a story.
Our general takeaway from this story is to be a good neighbor, but the Holy Spirit is woven into this story in very deep, symbolic ways.
There are several characters in this story, which can be confusing when looking to answer, “Who is my neighbor.” To apply the characters simply:
30) Jesus replied and said, “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.
We are the man who fell among robbers. We fell into sin and were robbed of spiritual life in the Garden of Eden. Each of us now shares this condition from which we need to be rescued and redeemed.
31) And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
The priest represents religion. It cannot help us. It is powerless to help us.
32) Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
Levites represent works, because they worked in the temple to prepare the sacrifices. This Levite looked at the man and passed him by.
Scandalously, Jesus introduces a Samaritan, whom the Jews despised, as someone who was on a purposeful journey and who had compassion on the half-dead man. The Samaritan then goes to where the man was and treats the man with two profoundly symbolic items: oil and wine.
Jesus describes the Samaritan as a wealthy man. He had transportation and money for himself to treat the man as well as pay the innkeeper to take care of the wounded man until the Samaritan returns.
Jesus concludes the parable by asking the question, “Who proved to be a neighbor?”
At this point we must return to the original questions:
1.) What must I do to be saved?
2.) Who is my neighbor?
The answer to the first question is found in Scripture: “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.”
The answer to the second question then becomes: Jesus is my neighbor. Jesus is, in essence, saying, “In order to inherit eternal life, you must love me.”
The amazing part of this story is that Jesus, aka The Samaritan, was not working alone. He had an unseen helper.
Another name for the Holy Spirit is “The Helper.” He is unseen, but He is there helping. When Jesus first comes to us, He never comes alone. In the context of this story, He comes with oil and wine. Oil symbolizes new birth. In Psalms, David writes, “My cup runneth over.” What did his cup run over with? It runs over with wine. The Donkey also represents the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit carries us.
At this point, the half-dead man has done nothing. All he can do is receive the help of Jesus and His Helper.
When Jesus finds us, He lifts us up onto the Holy Spirit and brings us to the inn, aka the church, and places us in the care of the innkeeper, who is also representative of the Holy Spirit, until His return.
Jesus pays two days’ wages for the man’s expenses, and He offers credit to cover anything beyond that when He returns.
If 1,000 years is as a day to the Lord, we are beyond the two days’ worth of wages. We are now in the credit period, which indicates we are closer than ever to the Lord’s return.
Paul tells the Ephesians to not be physically drunk with physical wine, but to instead be continuously filled spiritually with the wine of the Holy Spirit because we are designed to pour onto others what God has poured into us.
Jesus was so excited about the promise of the Father being fulfilled that He told the disciples to wait and to not do anything until the Holy Spirit was poured out onto them. The Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost with the sound of a mighty, rushing wind. The disciples began worshiping God and speaking in other languages. Understandably, this drew a crowd and they asked, “What does this mean?”
This question should be our response when we see God doing something instead of the question, “Why?”
“Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.”
Traditional wineskins were preserved by continuous filling of wine and the rubbing of oil on the exterior. If they are not used, they become brittle and dry.
If we want to be useful, we must be made [re]new, by the oil and the wine of the Holy Spirit.
- What areas of your heart have become dry?
- How can the Holy Spirit renew you today?
- How can we go and do likewise, as Jesus commanded at the end of the story?