The parable of the good Samaritan, found in Luke 10:25-37 is very familiar to most believers. Since our early days in Sunday School, this parable has been used to teach us how to love those who need help, those who are down and out.
Looking Beneath the Surface
But there is more to this parable than meets the eye. And though what we have been taught may be an application of the parable, it is far from being the correct interpretation. This parable, like most, has more than just a surface meaning. In fact, in this simple story. Jesus paints a dispensational picture that reaches from the fall of Adam to His own second coming.
The background for this parable starts in verse 25. Here, a lawyer tempted Jesus by asking Him, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" When Jesus put the question back on him, the lawyer answered, "You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Leviticus 19:18)
The parable of the Good Samaritan was given in response to the lawyer's next question: "And who is my neighbor?" (Luke 10:29)
Jesus replied, "A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead." (verse 30)
Robbed and Redeemed
Since the time of Adam, the road of mankind has been "down." When Adam disobeyed God and ate of the forbidden fruit of the tree he fell into the hands of "the thief" (John 10:10), Satan and his demons. The thieves did three things to the man before they left him in the road. First, they stripped him of his raiment, secondly, they wounded him and thirdly, they departed, leaving him half dead. This is the three-fold curse of the Law: poverty (stripped him), sickness (wounded him), and spiritual death (departed leaving him half dead).
It is significant that he was left half dead, because when Adam sinned in the Garden, he did not fall over and physically die, even though God told him that if he ate of the fruit, he would surely die (Genesis 2:17). At the moment Adam ate of the fruit, he died spiritually, but he was still alive physically. In other words, he was half dead.
The Law is Powerless to Help
"Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side." (verses 31, 32)
The priest and Levite represent the written and sacrificial parts of the Law. Notice that neither one could help, but passed by on the other side. the law was never designed to save man, but to tell him that he is a sinner and needs a savior (Romans 3:20, 5:20, Galatians 3:19). Also notice that both passed by by chance. the law would have never been introduced if man would have accepted God's Word by faith. Both the priest and Levite were repulsed by the sight of this man and passed by him. The Law has nothing to give, but demands all from you.
Jesus is the Good Samaritan
"But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him." (verses 33, 34)
Thank God for Jesus, our Good Samaritan. He did not come by chance - He was on a journey. He had a definite purpose in coming from Jerusalem (heaven) to Jericho (earth). He did not "pass by on the other side," but came to us. We did not have to go to Jesus, He came to us. When we were lost and dead in our trespasses and sin, Christ died for us.
The Good Samaritan also had compassion on the man, and bound up his wounds. This tells us there is healing in the atoning work of Jesus for Satan's curse of sickness.
Finally, the Good Samaritan brought the man to an inn. The inn represents the Church. when Jesus redeemed you, he placed you into the Church, the Body of Christ, and turned you over to the Innkeeper for safe keeping.
The Good Samaritan is Coming Back
"On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’" (verse 35)
Jesus told us He is coming again. After He turned us over to the host, He promised to come again for us. I do not believe we can know the day or hour of Jesus' return, but the general time can be derived from the Scriptures - and the parable of the Good Samaritan is one such scripture.
The Samaritan gave the host two pence to last until he would return. I believe this amount tells us how long He would be gone. In Matthew 20:1-16, we are told that a pence, or penny, was a full days wage. So the Good Samaritan gave the host enough money for two days. 2 Peter 3:8 tells us "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." Could the Samaritan be telling us He will be gone for two thousand years" If so, the Lord's return is close!
The Unseen Helper
The main character of this parable is the Good Samaritan, Jesus, but behind the scenes is an unseen, invisible hero, the Holy Spirit. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is supportive - He never seeks the forefront. As this parable shows, there are five ministries of the Spirit which are fulfilled our lives once we accept Jesus as our Savior.
1. The Oil - This is the first element put into the wounds of the man in the road. The oil represents the work of the Holy Spirit in the new birth.
2. The Wine - Wine is the second element poured into the wounds of the man. This represents the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the infilling. Since the oils was first, this tells us that a person must be born again to receive the fullness of the Spirit (Acts 19:2).
3. The Beast - The Holy Spirit is the Lord's burden bearer. He is used to carry us from the road to the inn, from the kingdom of darkness into the new creation. The Holy Spirit takes us out of the world and places us into the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13).
4. The Innkeeper - Because the Good Samaritan had to leave, He placed us at the inn. The inn represents the Church. The innkeeper is the Holy Spirit whom Jesus promised would come and watch over us forever (John 14:16). The innkeeper does not own the inn, but is hired by the owner to oversee and protect.
5. The Steward - The innkeeper was also asked to be the steward, the distributor of the funds which were left by the Good Samaritan. Although our needs are supplied by God (Philippians 4:19), the One Who has been given charge over the distribution of the funds is the Holy Spirit. He is the One Who prompts us in our giving.
Love Your Neighbor
At the close of this parable, Jesus asked, "So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” (verses 36, 37)
The original question in verse 29 was "...who is my neighbor?" As Jesus just proved in this parable, the neighbor was Himself. He is not teaching us to love the down-and-outer, the man lying in the road. He is teaching us to love Himself. Helping those in need is admirable and even commanded, but never insures entrance into heaven and eternal life. Good works have never saved anyone!
We are the ones in the road - and without Jesus we are helpless. he found us, had compassion on us, and bound up our wounds. He brought us to the Church and put us in the care of the Holy Spirit. In return, what does He ask of us? How do we gain eternal life? We simply put our faith, trust, and love in Him.