Who is the Good Samaritan?
Daily Reading: Luke 10:25-27
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 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.”
“And behold, a lawyer (nomikos) stood up to put him to the test”. Nomikos means an interpreter and teacher of the Mosaic law, one who is learned in the law.
The expert in the law is asking Jesus a question pertaining to the very thing he already specialized in. Why? To test Jesus. Ekpeirazō to prove, test, thoroughly tempt: his mind and judgment. We see this same word ekpeirazō used three times in one verse in Matthew 4:7: Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ (ekpeirazō).
The expert of the Law had to ask, what is the qualification for everlasting life because the Law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature (Romans 8:3).
What is the answer to that question? We have the benefit of knowing what it is. Jesus is the qualification for eternal life.
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.” I guarantee this answer (Luke 10:27) did not come from the lawyer but came from Jesus earlier. In Matthew’s Gospel the 22nd chapter tells the same story but from a different angle.
So, I fully believe that the first question the lawyer asked was, “which is the greatest commandment in the Law” (Matthew 22:36)? Jesus’ response to his question is parroted by the lawyer when answering Jesus’ own question (Luke 10:27) which came out of “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
The means of salvation is Jesus, He cannot outright say this in this moment, and so Jesus is going to teach the secret of the Kingdom, how He/Jesus is our Good Samaritan.
The key interpretive question is this: With whom is Jesus asking us to identify? The priest? The Levite? The Samaritan? Who we are in this story is the fallen man left for dead. This Samaritan is the answer to the fallen man. And this man is nothing like the religious. In fact, he would equally have been shunned by the priest and Levite and He was!
This is not a simple morality tale. The point of the parable is not our resolve to be good Samaritans. The point is Christ who is our Good Samaritan. If we miss Him in any part of Scripture we turn gospel into law and blessings into curses.