“But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him” (Luke 10:33)
In His Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus painted a picture of a robbed, stripped, and beaten man lying half-dead along the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. After leading worship in the temple, a priest and a Levite had passed by the man in need.
Next, Jesus described a Samaritan who came on the scene of events. Jews despised Samaritans. This was a huge interruption to the listeners in the flow of the story. They probably had assumed that a natural progression of characters following this group would include another member of the Israel delegation. They must have been asking, “Why a Samaritan?”
In 722 BC, Assyrian captivity of the kingdom of Israel took place. Subsequently, Jews had intermarried with pagans, and Samaritans were the resulting “half-breeds.” In 128 BC, Jews attacked Samaritans who had built their own temple on Mt. Gerizim. In 6 AD, Samaritans made the Jewish temple unclean at Passover by scattering human bones. Consequently, Jewish synagogues featured a daily prayer that Samaritans would not participate in eternal life, (subscribing to the belief that God did not love Samaritans). The Mishnah, the 1st Century Jewish Commentary, trashed Samaritans referring to them as swine. Faithful Jews avoided passing through Samaria, but Jesus had not (see Luke 9:51-56).
The Samaritan was not a Gentile. He, too, was bound by the Law. In the listeners’ minds, he was the least likely of the three to help. He had a conflict. Was the beaten man in need a Jew? If he were, the Samaritan believed that the priest and Levite would have stopped and helped. At the same time, if the beaten man were Jewish, the Samaritan risked retaliation from the beaten man’s family. They would have assumed the Samaritan had something to do with the beating and the theft. Why else would he have broken Jewish Law?
Who are your Samaritans? Who do you exclude from God’s love? Is it liberals or conservatives? Is it rich or poor? Is it the religious or irreligious? Do you find yourself avoiding and despising them? This is discrimination, which comes in two forms: jealousy (from the bottom up) or prejudice (from the top down). Whether you have acted with jealousy or prejudice, surrender your heart to God. Ask Him for the heart of Christ who loved and served everyone.