The Good Samaritan is perhaps one of the most well-known parables in the Gospels. Often the very familiar parables can become weighed down with stereo typical interpretations, interpretations that often cast Judaism in a bad light. We’ve probably all heard sermons that speak of the priest and the Levite as the ‘elite’ and their concern for purity laws. Luke isn’t interested in purity in this parable. His interest is mercy.
When the Samaritan stops it is because he is is ‘moved with compassion’. His compassion shows itself in concrete action. Straight away he sets about trying to soothe and heal the man’s wounds with oil and wine. In Greek the word for oil is eliaon. It’s from this root that the word for mercy also comes, eleon.
Such is the depth of the Samaritan’s mercy that not only does he try to provide immediate relief for the man but he makes long term provision for him too.
He then lifted him on to his own mount, carried him to the inn and looked after him. Next day, he took out two denarii and handed them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,” he said “and on my way back I will make good any extra expense you have.”
The Samaritan has set no limits on what will be needed to restore the man to health. The lawyer has surely got more than he bargained for with his two questions: ‘Master what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ and ‘Who is my neighbour?’
This parable is about our capacity to show mercy and our willingness to be generous. It is about having our hearts stirred to compassion and the courage to respond with the mercy and generosity of God.
Where in your life is God calling you to bring healing with oil and wine?