Here we explore the parable of the Good Samaritan, its meanings and how you can apply it to your life.
Luke 10: 30-37: The Parable of the Good Samaritan
Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.
So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.
He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
The Good Samaritan story: What does it mean to love your neighbour as yourself?
Loving your neighbour as yourself is something we all want to do. It’s the second greatest commandment. And one of the most quoted verses in the Bible.
Mark 12:30-31: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.
But in a world full of need, it can feel like an overwhelming call. If I’m honest, I struggle to follow Jesus’ call to love my neighbour as much as I love myself.
- What if my neighbour is someone I disagree with?
- What if my neighbour is different to me?
- What if my neighbour is antagonistic towards me?
But praise God, He is grace-filled and compassionate as we learn the lesson of how to love others again and again. Thankfully He gives us His word, including the Good Samaritan story, which gives us powerful and practical lessons about how to love our neighbour:
1. The Good Samaritan sermon ideas: He chose to see the need
The Good Samaritan was moved in his soul by the need in front of his eyes. When he saw the stranger, he took pity on him – he didn’t just look away.
This is exactly what Jesus did – He saw the need of others:
- Matthew 9:36 “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
- Luke 10:20 ‘While he was still a long way off his father saw him and had compassion on him’
Loving the Lord God with all our heart means allowing Him to touch our emotions and saturate our soul with compassion. This way, when we encounter brokenness, the love of Christ wells up in us and we respond rather than retreat.
Reflect: When you encounter broken humanity, do you close your eyes out of fear or open your eyes in faith that God can use us to bring healing into someone’s life?
2. The Good Samaritan answered the cry
But it wasn’t enough to see the need and have pity, the Good Samaritan chose to answer the man’s cry and take action. The Samaritan was aware of the danger and the inconvenience of helping the robbed man, but he reached out anyway – the parable describes how “he went to him.”
“One act saved my life”
“Poverty had told me I am hopeless, I am nothing and I believed that. But right in the middle of this desperation, it was then that Compassion intervened … What joy and dancing filled my home at the news that I’d finally got a sponsor. One act and one teenager changed my life.”
At Compassion, we give people the opportunity to take action against poverty and sponsor a child in extreme need. Sponsoring a child is a powerful way of helping your global neighbour.
It gives a child born into vulnerability the stability of nutritious food, healthcare, education and the lifeline of a local church-based Compassion project where they’re known and loved.
Reflect: It’s one thing to have faith but the The Bible tells us that, “faith without deeds is dead”. What simple and decisive action can you take to help the poor today?
3. Who is my neighbour? The Good Samaritan overcame difference
The Good Samaritan wasn’t hindered by the fact he was different to the man in need, he simply had a heart to make a difference to him.
I have clear memories of hearing the command “love thy neighbour” in Sunday School and singing “when I needed a neighbour were you there” in primary school.
At the time I always thought Jesus was calling me to show love to my next door neighbour. But our neighbour isn’t just the person next door. Our neighbour is the person God has placed right in front us. And no matter how different, how inconvenient or how unexpected, we’re asked to love.
The Good Samaritan was willing to cross political, racial, cultural and social barriers and risk prejudices and the fear of the unknown because he saw someone with a need and he had the resources to meet that need.
Reflect: How can you help your neighbour? Both the person in need on your doorstep and your global neighbour who you’ve never met. What has God placed in your hand to help the poor?
4. The Good Samaritan refused to give up
Verses 34-35 of the parable tell us that the Good Samaritan didn’t just patch up the injured man on the side of the road and move on.
Instead, he put him on his donkey and took him to an inn where he took care of him. What’s more, he was willing to pay the price by giving two day’s wages and then promising to pay for any further expenses when he came back.
So often when we seek to love people we start off with good intentions but we struggle to follow through. Instead of becoming half-hearted, we need God to do a work in our lives: when we love God with all our strength we will follow through in our commitment by doing whatever it takes.
Reflect: Are you already helping the poor and loving your neighbour? Don’t give up, even when things get tough. If you already sponsor a child with Compassion, don’t give up on that child. Press through, and just as you started well, finish well.
Real-life Good Samaritans to inspire you
At Compassion, we hear incredible stories of the selfless love shown time and again by our incredible project staff and the children in the Compassion programme. Thanks to child sponsorship, children who were born into poverty are empowered not just to overcome poverty themselves, but bring change to their families and communities.
How to love your neighbours: Moses’ story
It was a cool day in Kenya, near Homa Bay, an eastern inlet of Lake Victoria. Moses’ mother was given a food parcel packed with sugar, flour, oil, beans, rice, tea and a box of biscuits – essential items for a family that often struggled to gather together enough food for one meal a day.
Seeing other hungry children around him, Moses was moved with compassion. Without thinking, he took one of the packets of biscuits from the box and started giving them out to his neighbours. It was as if there was no question in his mind – if he had something and his friends did not, the obvious next step would be to share it.
Showing Jesus’ love to people: Magnim’s story
Magnim owned only one skirt, a second-hand t-shirt and a pair of shoes when she was registered into Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Programme. A special financial gift from her sponsor soon changed that, though! Her parents used the money to buy their little girl some new clothes.
The brightly patterned dresses looked beautiful on her. But as thrilled as Mangim was, she wished her friends had new clothes to wear, too. On Sundays, they wore their school uniforms to church: the only clothes they had. Wanting to bless her friends too, she insisted on giving away five of her new clothes – half of what she owned – to her friends. They were overwhelmed at her generosity.
“It takes only love to do that because even for us adults it is difficult to share our goods with our friends,” says Esso, mum to one of Magnim’s friends. “Magnim’s gesture is an act of love.”
You may also be interested in:
- 40 Inspiring Bible Verses About Love: Discover what the Bible says about love
- 37 Encouraging Verses to Inspire you With Hope and Strength: Be equipped and encouraged today