The Good Samaritans

by Dody Gibson

The road from Jerusalem to Jericho has changed little since the first century. Accessible by foot or horseback, it is approximately eighteen to twenty miles distance. It is a rocky and rugged route and one can expect to make about three miles an hour. The decent is very rapid, nearly four thousand feet from the Mount of Olives to the Jordan valley below. There are many ascents as well along the way increasing the sharpness of the slope and additional hazards to the journey down the mountain.

About halfway there is a huge boulder affording a very convenient place for robbers to lie in wait. There are also many other places to hide along this lonely road earning its reputation as the "Way of Blood." Jesus knew this and somewhere on this narrow trail we are given the setting for the story of the Good Samaritan.

It is an account well known to every Bible student. A certain man was traveling the road to Jericho. Somewhere along the path, thieves waited in hiding. He had little to offer for all they took was his clothing. Perhaps his lack of worldly goods reflected their own poor choice of a victim for they left him wounded and nearly dead. Two others chanced by that day, a priest and a Levite. Extending no compassion toward the agony and the destitute condition of their fellowman, each crossed to the other side and continued on their way. But shortly, a Samaritan, one with whom the Jews had no dealings and even hated, passed that pay and came upon the man who was most certainly dying from blood loss, injury and exposure. The kind, generous benevolence paid to this poor stranger has been retold in every generation since. It will forever exemplify a Christian attitude toward those in need without respect for race, wealth or standing in the community. Likewise, none will be praised for the "It's not my problem" attitude of the priest or Levite.

In Acts 4:36-37 we are told of another who demonstrated great generosity toward those who lacked the necessities of life. His name was Joses, surnamed Barnabas, and he had sold land and brought the money to the apostles to be distributed to needy saints. In verse 36, it states that he was a Levite. It does seem strange that this fact should be included here. Paul states his credentials but this was addressed to those Jews to whom he was speaking. This information about Barnabas was added when the writer recorded the story. The church had been established and there was no priesthood although there were Jews who still practiced the Law of Moses. Also, under the Law, the Levites did not own property; they were given cities to live in. Yet, Barnabas had property in Cyprus, evidence that he was not following Old Testament ways.

Therefore, what can be the reason that this information is included in Luke's account? Can it be that this author wants us to know that some Levites were sensitive toward their brothers in need? There is definitely a contrast between this Levite and the one in the Good Samaritan story. Perhaps this is an appended lesson to teach us to avoid prejudice not only toward those who are in need but also in forming opinions against a group for the one rotten apple in the barrel. We can find much to meditate upon as we contemplate these two records.

Luke was a Gentile, neither Jew nor Samaritan, and was unbiased in either situation. It was he who wrote the book of Acts and gives us the story of Barnabas. Of all four Gospel writers only one records the story of the Good Samaritan. It should not come as a surprise to learn that it was Luke. Both stories come together with one author.

And that's the Amazing Truth!
Millstadt, IL 62260

Dody Gibson See other articles by Dody Gibson