Seven surprising things about the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 video discussion

The Sunday gospel lectionary reading for Trinity 4 in Year C is Luke 10.25-37, most commonly known as the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Because of its familiarity, many people reduce the point of this text to mere social action, telling people what they ‘ought’ to do. But there is much more to this passage, and some interesting surprises.

James and Ian explore the text, the nature of these surprises, and how this issues can help to shape our preaching in a fresh way.

Signup to get email updates of new posts
We promise not to spam you. Unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address

If you enjoyed this, do share it on social media (Facebook or Twitter) using the buttons on the left. Follow me on Twitter @psephizo. Like my page on Facebook.

Much of my work is done on a freelance basis. If you have valued this post, you can make a single or repeat donation through PayPal:

For other ways to support this ministry, visit my Support page.

Comments policy: Do engage with the subject. Please don't turn this into a private discussion board. Do challenge others in the debate; please don't attack them personally. I no longer allow anonymous comments; if there are very good reasons, you may publish under a pseudonym; otherwise please include your full name, both first and surnames.

2 thoughts on “Seven surprising things about the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 video discussion”

  1. Re Margaret Thatcher’s misuse of the text claiming that it supported wealth generation, I think she may have got this from Bishop Bill Westwood who I heard say this very thing on a BBC thought for the day around about that time.

  2. Kierkegaard On “The Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:25-37)


    If anyone asks, “Who is my neighbour?” then Christ’s reply to the Pharisee, who asked this same question, contains the only answer, for in answer to this question Christ turned everything around. Christ says: “Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbour to the man who fell among the robbers?” The Pharisee answers correctly, “The one who showed mercy to him” (Lk. 10:36). This means that by doing your duty you easily discover who your neighbour is. The Pharisee’s answer is contained in Christ’s question. He towards whom I have a duty is my neighbour, and when I fulfil my duty, I prove that I am his neighbour. Christ does not speak about recognising our neighbour but about being a neighbour yourself, about proving yourself to be a neighbour, something the Samaritan showed by his compassion.”


    There is a generally accepted metaphor that compares life to a road. To compare life to a road can indeed be fruitful in many ways, but we must consider how life is unlike a road. In a physical sense a road is an external actuality, no matter whether anyone is walking on it or not, no matter how the individual travels on it – the road is the road. But in the spiritual sense, the road comes into existence only when we walk on it. That is, the road is how it is walked.

    It would be unreasonable to define a highway by how it is walked. Whether it is the young person who walks it with his head held high or the old decrepit person who struggles along with head bowed down, whether it is the happy person hurrying to reach a goal or the worrier who creeps slowly along, whether it is the poor traveler on foot or the rich traveler in his carriage – the road, in the physical sense, is the same for all. The road is and remains the same, the same highway. But not the road of virtue. We cannot point to the road of virtue and say: There runs the road of virtue. We can only show how the road of virtue is walked, and if anyone refuses to walk that way, he is walking another road.

    The dissimilarity in the metaphor shows up most clearly when the discussion is simultaneously about a physical road and a road in the spiritual sense. For example, when we read in the Gospel about the good Samaritan, there is mention of the road between Jericho and Jerusalem. The story tells of five people who walked “along the same road.” Spiritually speaking, however, each one walked his own road. The highway, alas, makes no difference; it is the spiritual that makes the difference and distinguishes the road. Let us consider more carefully how this is.

    The first man was a peaceful traveler who walked along the road from Jericho to Jerusalem, along a lawful road. The second man was a robber who “walked along the same road” – and yet on an unlawful road. Then a priest came “along the same road”; he saw the poor unfortunate man who had been assaulted by the robber. Perhaps he was momentarily moved but went right on by. He walked the road of indifference.

    Next a Levite came “along the same road.” He saw the poor unfortunate man; he too walked past unmoved, continuing his road. The Levite walked “along the same road” but was walking his way, the way of selfishness and callousness.

    Finally a Samaritan came “along the same road.” He found the poor unfortunate man on the road of mercy. He showed by example how to walk the road of mercy; he demonstrated that the road, spiritually speaking, is precisely this; how one walks. This is why the Gospel says, “Go and do likewise.” Yes, there were five travellers who walked “along the same road,” and yet each one walked his own road.

    The question “how one walks life’s road” makes all the difference. In other words, when life is compared to a road, the metaphor simply expresses the universal, that which everyone who is alive has in common by being alive. To that extent we are all walking along the road of life and are all walking along the same road. But when living becomes a matter of truth, then the question becomes: How shall we walk in order to walk the right road on the road of life? The traveller who in truth walks life’s road does not ask, “Where is the road?” but asks how one ought to walk along the road. Yet, because impatience does not mind being deceived it merely asks where the road is, as if that decided everything as when the traveler finally has found the highway. Worldly wisdom is very willing to deceive by answering correctly the question, “Where is the road?” while life’s true task is omitted, that spiritually understood the road is: how it is walked.

    Worldly sagacity teaches that the road goes over Gerizim, or over Moriah, or that it goes through some science or other, or that the road is certain doctrines, or certain behaviours. But all this is a deception, because the road is how it is walked. It is indeed as Scripture says – two people can be sleeping in the same bed – the one is saved, the other is lost. Two people can go up to the same house of worship – the one goes home saved, the other is lost. Two people can recite the same creed – the one can be saved, the other is lost. How does this happen except for the fact that, spiritually speaking, it is a deception to know where the road is, because the road is: how it is walked?



    Suppose that the victim, whom the merciful Samaritan took care of, died in his hands. Then suppose the Samaritan had to report it to the police, and the police had said: Of course we must keep you under arrest for the time being. What then? His contemporaries would have laughed at him for being so stupid as to let himself get into such a scrape. They would think he was crazy. Behold, these are the wages of mercy.


Leave a comment