The Good Samaritan

The Good Samaritan is a parable told by Jesus Christ and is mentioned in the Gospel of Luke (10:29-37). It is the story of a traveler who is beaten, robbed, and left to die along the side of a road. According to the parable, a priest and then a Levite (person of Eastern Mediterranean ancestry) notice the struggling man but avoid him and ignore his distress.

Finally, a Samaritan (a person descended from a group of ancient Semitic inhabitants who asserted that their worship was the true religion of ancient Israelites prior to the Babylonian Exile) comes upon the man who is in dire need of help for his survival.

Though the wandering man is a Samaritans and the injured man is a Jew, and their two ethnic groups generally despised one other, this particular Samaritan chooses voluntarily and without hesitation to help the injured man.

Jesus is described as praising the humanity and decency of the Samaritan man. Telling the parable as a response to a question he was asked regarding the identity of the “neighbour” that Leviticus 19:18 says should be loved. It is also important to note that historically, the audience Jesus spoke to would likely have had a negative predisposition toward Samaritan men as a group, making his decision to praise the actions of this particular protagonist a courageous and effective means to make his point.

Through many centuries the Good Samaritan parable has inspired paintings, sculptures, poetry, and films. The common phrase “Good Samaritan” has become a descriptive term meaning not only someone who helps a stranger without seeking recognition, but even more-so, someone who does great deeds even in the face of harsh challenges or societal prejudices. To be a Good Samaritan is to be someone whose deeds demonstrate the kind of loft ideal that others often give lip-service but rarely put into action as part of their own daily activities. That is why the term has become so popular with Hospitals and Charitable Organizations and community members whose primary goal is to serve the greater good.

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