We all love the story of “The Good Samaritan” … the uber-compassionate “certain Samaritan” in the parable of Jesus, found in Luke 10—on Page 1095 of my Thompson Chain Reference KJV.
There he was, traveling along, minding his own business, when he—BY CHANCE—saw another poor traveler who had been stripped, robbed, wounded, and left laying half dead by the side of The Jericho Road. He alone stopped and tended to the man’s dire plight, unlike the proud Priest and the lazy Levite who had just walked on by. The GOOD Samaritan bandaged, medicated, and ambulanced the man on his own donkey to the nearest hostel to recuperate—sparing no expense for his recovery. What a good neighbor he was! Jesus ended the story, as if to shame the Jews for their ethnic prejudice by saying, “Go and be just like that SAMARITAN” … a real stand-out stand-up kind of guy!
But what’s the deal about him being a “Samaritan?” Was he the only “good” one out of the lot? Who were the Samaritans anyway? And why did the Jews hate them?
When King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was conquering most of the Middle Eastern world, he used a method of “homogenizing” the peoples that he conquered. He would move large segments of the population of one country to another to mess up their proud pure ethnicity. No people were prouder of their “pure” ethnic heritage than the Jews. When he took most of Judah to Babylon, he left only the poor and sickly riffraff and resettled other people in their homeland. With the land now almost completely empty of landowners, the people who remained, like so many Goldilocks, moved into the vacant homes, plantations, and villages of Samaria. They intermarried with local pagans who were also moved in to fill the void, and the resulting “Samaritans” were no longer a pure Jewish race.
Seventy years later, when the carried-away Jews returned from captivity, the Samaritans were thought to be “half-breeds” and, therefore, outcasts. The pure Jews wanted nothing to do with them, although most of the Samaritans were still at least part Jewish. The family feud grew, and by the time of Jesus, the Jews hated the Samaritans so much that they’d go way out of their way rather than to travel through Samaria.
So, was the mythical, parabolic Samaritan the ONLY “good” one? Was the only GOOD Samaritan a fictional one? Not at ALL! In fact, we find that there’s another real-life Samaritan (or two!) who rose above the status quo and also received an honorable mention in the annuls of the Bible.
Later in his Gospel, Luke tells of how Jesus compassionately healed ten lepers, changing their miserable lives forever. “One of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.” (Luke 17:15-16 KJV)
“Now (Jesus) had to go through Samaria.” (John 4:4 AMP)
Later, John the Revelator tells us in his Gospel that it was to none other than a sinful Samaritan woman at a Samaritan well that Jesus first announced that He was the promised Messiah. (John 4:3-29) Honorable mention indeed!
Prayer: Dear Jesus, You don’t care that we may be an outcast—despised, rejected, neglected and abused. In fact, those are words that described You! Rather, You look for real humility, compassion, gratitude, and a true hunger for God. With those traits, we may cancel out a messy heritage and will always be a stand-out success to YOU—never a nobody, but someone SPECIAL. Thank YOU!