QTVOTD: Show Mercy…

Today I read through Luke’s recalling of the parable of the Good Samaritan. The man who was beaten had been walking from Jerusalem to Jericho; a distance of about 17 miles and the road descends more than 3,000 feet. It is the kind of wild country in which robbers might well be safe.

As the story goes, the man was left “half dead”. When the first traveler (a priest) came by the man, he walked by on the other side. This is likely because the man on the the road being half dead might appear to the priest as ‘dead’ and for the priest to touch him would make him ceremonially unclean (Lev 21:1ff). In this case ceremonial cleanliness won the day over assisting a man in need.

Next a Levite, also concerned with ceremonial purity, went by on the side as well; avoiding the man in need of help.

Then to the astonishment of the reader, in view of the traditional bitterness between Jew and Samaritan, a Samaritan was the last person who might have been expected to help. But this man had compassion on the sufferer. He attended to him as best he could on the spot. He put the injured man on his own beast (meaning the Samaritan would have to walk) and then checked him into an inn and cared for him further. When the Samaritan needs to leave, he gave the inn keeper 2 dinari for his trouble told him to take care for the man…if more money was needed, he would pay the inn keeper when he returned. According to the historian Polybius, a man could secure accommodation in inns in Italy in his time (c. 150 BC) for half an as a day, i.e. 1/32 of a denarius. If rates in Palestine at this period were at all comparable, the Samaritan was paying for about two months’ board.


If I am being truthful with myself, I can’t be sure I would stop and help; I hope I would. What Jesus is saying to the lawyer in this story is that caring for others goes above sacrament. Care for our neighbor is the second most important command after “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength”. I have made one of the top two goals at work to “invest in people” but I feel convicted to take this a step further.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.