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There Goes the Neighborhood: The Good Samaritan Story

Jul 17, 2008
(Luke 10:25-37)

As we prepared for this article, we Googled the words "Good Samaritan" and the request brought us over 281,000 references of the Good Samaritan on the Internet. It included thousands of hospitals and medical centers named Good Samaritan, hundreds of Good Samaritan awards, scores of charitable trust funds named Good Samaritan, and a multitude of newspaper articles on Good Samaritan heroics and helpfulness. But where do all these references come from?

Let's take a peek at the Biblical Good Samaritan story, and then look at it metaphysically, to introduce the real main character to you. You may want to read the whole story before going with this article. When you're finished, come on back. We'll wait for you!

Let's start by taking a look at a few specific verses from Luke 10:25-37, to offer some historical background.

* v27: The legal expert responds easily, reiterating the passages from the Torah (Deut 6:5 and Lev 19:18). He wanted to prove he was a student of the law, that he knew his Torah.

* v29: He desired Jesus' approval to abide by the letter of the law and to restrict who he considered a neighbor. It would be like asking for permission not to help a member of a hate group who was hurt (like a neo-Nazi or a clansman.) The Greek work for neighbor is plesion which is interpreted as "the close one." It meant people similar to you in social status, religious faith, ethnicity, etc. The lawyer hoped that's what Jesus meant.

* v30: In this verse, the phrase "a certain man" derives from the Greek Word anthropostis, which means somebody/anyone. Jesus wasn't going to give him a way out. The road between Jericho and Jerusalem was treacherous and notorious for bandits. Jericho was below sea level.

* v32: The law was if a person touched a dead body or came into contact with the blood of someone unclean, they would be defiled for seven days and not permitted to carry out their assigned religious duties.

* v33: The Jews hated the Samaritans. Samaritans were the descendants of those Jews who remained in northern Israel after it was conquered by Assyria in the 8th Century B.C. They were uncircumcised, intermarried Gentiles, and refused to acknowledge the temple in Jerusalem.

* v37: The lawyer probably paused before he responded to Jesus' question. He, like other Jews, detested the Samaritans so much he couldn't bring himself to say the word Samaritan. He said, "He that showed mercy." And Jesus responded, "You got that right." We are paraphrasing, of course.

For Jesus, there were no untouchables in the Kingdom of God. And the point He wanted to get across to the lawyer - and to us - is to not let our religion take the place of our spirituality or compassion. If the whole point of Jesus' parable had been simply promoting a sense of civility and goodwill, it would have been a good message. But it has a much deeper meaning. Let's take a metaphysical look, so we can add a higher consciousness perspective to the story.

* Lawyer = our inclination to use the letter of the law to justify our behavior

* Injured Man (the main metaphysical character) = human consciousness; the thoughts, feelings, and actions in each of us

* Jerusalem = Heart-centered consciousness of peace and spirituality

* Jericho = Materially-focused desires which spring from the ego's fears and selfishness

* Robbers = our selfish, destructive thoughts that deplete our body of its energy and vitality

* Priest and Levite = religious inclinations that fail to see the connection between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law

* Samaritan = the Christ of us

* Oil and wine = oil is love; wine is abundant life

* Inn = pure, receptive Divine thoughts

* Innkeeper = the Holy Spirit

* 2 denarii = the price we pay for reconnecting the human personality with Spirit

* Neighbor = our physical body and emotions which are impacted by our thoughts

The metaphysical implications of this parable are straightforward. When we decide to leave the peace and serenity of our spirituality (Jerusalem) and follow the temptations of our material sense consciousness (Jericho), we rob ourselves of our strength and vitality. Our error thinking can take us over dangerous emotional and physical ground, oftentimes resulting in life-threatening illnesses.

Our wholeness will return when we build our consciousness (the Inn) and accept the wisdom and support that comes from our inner Divinity, which provides comfort through the Holy Spirit.

So you see the parable is not about the Samaritan at all. It is about us.

* It is about our relationship with the Christ of us.

* It relates to our falling in and out of a state of grace.

* It reminds us of our awesome and unfailing oneness to Spirit.

* It encourages us to have Christ thoughts so we can make Christ choices.

* And -- it assures us that we shall be comforted.
About the Author
Drs. Bil & Cher Holton are Spiritual Leaders at Unity Spiritual Life Center in Durham, NC, where they practice positive, practical, progressive Christianity. Visit their website at Unity Spiritual Life Center and sign up to receive a complimentary 4-week e-course.
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