Love in Action: The Good Samaritan Bible Study

Love in Action: The Good Samaritan – Love Bible Study #3

Pastor Duke Taber

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Introduction

The parable of the Good Samaritan, found in Luke 10:25-37 (NKJV), is one of the most well-known and powerful teachings of Jesus Christ. This parable illustrates the true meaning of love in action, transcending social, cultural, and religious boundaries. It challenges us to redefine our understanding of who our neighbor is and how we should treat them. In this Bible study, we will delve into the context, characters, and lessons of this parable, exploring how we can apply its timeless wisdom to our lives today.

As we study this parable, let us open our hearts to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who can help us understand and apply God’s Word (John 16:13). May we be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2) and empowered to love others as Christ has loved us (John 13:34-35).

The Lawyer’s Question (Luke 10:25-29)

The parable of the Good Samaritan begins with a conversation between Jesus and a lawyer. The lawyer, an expert in religious law, tests Jesus by asking, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25). This question reveals the lawyer’s focus on earning salvation through his own actions, rather than recognizing it as a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Jesus responds by asking the lawyer about the law’s requirements, to which the lawyer correctly summarizes: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself'” (Luke 10:27). This summary, known as the Great Commandment, is found in Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18.

Jesus affirms the lawyer’s answer, saying, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live” (Luke 10:28). However, the lawyer, seeking to justify himself, asks Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). This question reveals the lawyer’s desire to limit the scope of his love and compassion, perhaps hoping to find a loophole that would allow him to love only those who were similar to him or easy to love.

The lawyer’s question is one that we must all confront in our own lives. We may be tempted to justify ourselves by limiting our definition of “neighbor” to those who are like us or who we find easy to love. However, as we will see in the parable, Jesus challenges us to expand our understanding of who our neighbor is and how we should treat them.

Reflective Questions:

  1. How do you define “neighbor”? Who do you consider to be your neighbors?
  2. In what ways do you seek to justify yourself, like the lawyer, rather than humbly seeking to understand and obey God’s commands?
  3. How can we cultivate a heart that is open to loving all people, even those who are different from us or difficult to love?
Love in Action: The Good Samaritan - Love Bible Study #3

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The Parable (Luke 10:30-35)

Jesus begins the parable by describing a man who was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. This road, known as the “Way of Blood,” was notorious for its danger, as it passed through rocky, desolate terrain where robbers often attacked travelers. The man in the parable fell victim to such an attack, as he was stripped of his clothing, beaten, and left half dead on the road (Luke 10:30).

By chance, a priest passed by the injured man, but he chose to ignore him and continue on his way (Luke 10:31). As a religious leader, the priest would have been expected to help the man, as the law commanded love for one’s neighbor (Leviticus 19:18). However, the priest may have been concerned about ritual uncleanness, as touching a dead body would have made him unclean (Numbers 19:11). He may also have been worried about his own safety, not wanting to risk being attacked by the same robbers.

Similarly, a Levite, another religious leader, passed by the injured man and chose not to help (Luke 10:32). Like the priest, the Levite would have been expected to show compassion and care for the man, but he too prioritized his own concerns over the needs of his neighbor.

In contrast, a Samaritan, a member of a group despised by the Jews, came upon the injured man and had compassion on him (Luke 10:33). The Samaritans were considered by the Jews to be unclean and inferior, as they were descendants of intermarriages between Israelites and pagan peoples (2 Kings 17:24-41). The animosity between the two groups was so strong that they often avoided contact with each other (John 4:9).

Despite these cultural and religious barriers, the Samaritan showed extraordinary compassion and care for the injured man. He tended to the man’s wounds, pouring oil and wine on them, which were commonly used for medicinal purposes in ancient times. He then bandaged the wounds, put the man on his own animal, and brought him to an inn, where he took care of him (Luke 10:34).

The Samaritan’s care for the man extended beyond the initial rescue, as he gave the innkeeper two denarii (about two days’ wages) and asked him to take care of the man, promising to repay any additional expenses when he returned (Luke 10:35). This act of generosity and ongoing concern for the man’s well-being demonstrates the depth of the Samaritan’s love and compassion.

Reflective Questions:

  1. Why do you think the priest and the Levite, who were expected to help, passed by the injured man? What might have been their concerns or motivations?
  2. What can we learn from the Samaritan’s actions? How did he demonstrate love and compassion?
  3. In what ways can we show compassion and care for those in need, even when it is inconvenient or costly?
  4. How can we overcome cultural, religious, or personal barriers to love and serve others?
  5. What are some practical ways we can extend ongoing care and support to those we have helped?

The Lesson (Luke 10:36-37)

After sharing the parable, Jesus asks the lawyer, “So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” (Luke 10:36). The lawyer responds, “He who showed mercy on him” (Luke 10:37a). By acknowledging the Samaritan as the true neighbor, the lawyer admits that one’s identity as a neighbor is determined not by cultural or religious affiliation, but by the actions of love and compassion shown to others.

Jesus then instructs the lawyer (and us) to “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37b). This simple yet powerful command calls us to put our love into action, following the example of the Good Samaritan. It challenges us to transcend boundaries and expectations, showing compassion and mercy to all who are in need.

The parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us several key lessons:

  1. Love knows no boundaries: The Samaritan loved his neighbor despite cultural and religious differences. We must love others regardless of their background, status, or identity. As the apostle Paul wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
  2. Compassion leads to action: The Samaritan’s compassion moved him to take practical steps to help the injured man. Our love should compel us to act on behalf of those in need, not just to feel sympathy for them. As the apostle John wrote, “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:17-18).
  3. Go beyond expectations: The priest and Levite, who were expected to help, failed to do so. The Samaritan, who was not expected to help, went above and beyond in his care for the injured man. We should strive to exceed expectations in showing love to others, not just doing the minimum required of us. As Jesus taught, “If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two” (Matthew 5:40-41).
  4. Love is costly: The Samaritan incurred personal cost and inconvenience to help the injured man, using his own resources and time to care for him. We must be willing to love others sacrificially, even when it comes at a cost to ourselves. As Jesus taught, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).
  5. Love is a reflection of God’s character: The Samaritan’s love for the injured man is a reflection of God’s love for us. God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). As we love others, we reflect the character and nature of God, who is love (1 John 4:8).

Reflective Questions:

  1. How can we cultivate a heart of compassion for those who are different from us or who we might consider our enemies?
  2. What practical steps can we take to demonstrate love in action to our neighbors?
  3. In what areas of your life do you need to go beyond expectations in showing love and compassion to others?
  4. How can we maintain a willingness to love others sacrificially, even when it is costly or inconvenient?
  5. In what ways can our love for others serve as a testimony to the love and character of God?

Applying the Parable to Our Lives

The parable of the Good Samaritan challenges us to put our love into action, transcending boundaries and expectations. As followers of Christ, we are called to show compassion and mercy to those in need, regardless of their background or status. Here are some practical ways we can apply the lessons of this parable to our lives:

  1. Expand your definition of neighbor: Recognize that your neighbor includes not just those who live near you or who are similar to you, but also those who are in need, regardless of their background or status. As Jesus taught, “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matthew 5:46). We must be willing to love and serve even those who are different from us, those who we might consider our enemies, or those who cannot repay us.
  2. Be attentive to the needs around you: The Good Samaritan noticed the injured man and took action to help him. We must be attentive to the needs of those around us, both in our immediate circles and in the wider community. This may require us to slow down, to listen carefully, and to be willing to interrupt our plans in order to serve others. As the apostle Paul wrote, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4).
  3. Be prepared to help: Just as the Good Samaritan had the resources (oil, wine, and money) to help the injured man, we should be prepared to help others in need. This might include carrying extra supplies, setting aside resources, or being willing to offer our time and talents to serve others. It also means being prepared spiritually, through prayer, studying God’s Word, and cultivating a heart of compassion and generosity. As the apostle Peter wrote, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13).
  4. Overcome prejudices and fears: The Samaritan helped the injured man despite the cultural and religious barriers that existed between them. We must be willing to confront and overcome our own prejudices, fears, and discomfort in order to love and serve others. This may require us to examine our own hearts, to repent of any attitudes or actions that are contrary to God’s love, and to seek the help of the Holy Spirit in transforming our minds and hearts. As the apostle John wrote, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18a).
  5. Collaborate with others: The Good Samaritan enlisted the help of the innkeeper to care for the injured man. Similarly, we can work with others (individuals, churches, organizations) to meet the needs of our neighbors more effectively. This may involve partnering with local ministries, supporting community organizations, or joining with other believers to serve together. As the apostle Paul wrote, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). By collaborating with others, we can maximize our impact and demonstrate the unity and love of the Body of Christ.
  6. Love sacrificially: The Good Samaritan incurred personal cost and inconvenience to help the injured man. We must be willing to love others sacrificially, giving of our time, resources, and energy to serve those in need. This may require us to step out of our comfort zones, to take risks, or to make sacrifices in order to show love to others. As Jesus taught, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). Sacrificial love is the ultimate expression of our devotion to Christ and our commitment to following His example.
  7. Allow love to transform you: As we love others in word and deed, we will find ourselves being transformed by the very love we express. Loving others has a way of softening our hearts, broadening our perspectives, and deepening our compassion. It can also expose areas of our lives where we need to grow in grace and Christlikeness. As we allow God’s love to flow through us to others, we will experience the joy and fulfillment that comes from living out our purpose as His children. As Jesus taught, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35b).

Reflective Questions:

  1. Who are the “neighbors” in your life that you have overlooked or avoided? How can you begin to show them love and compassion?
  2. What resources, skills, or talents do you have that you could use to help others in need?
  3. What prejudices or fears do you need to confront and overcome in order to love others more fully?
  4. How can you collaborate with others (individuals, churches, organizations) to meet the needs of your community more effectively?
  5. In what areas of your life is God calling you to love more sacrificially?
  6. How have you experienced personal transformation through loving and serving others?

Conclusion

The parable of the Good Samaritan is a powerful and convicting reminder of what it means to love our neighbors as ourselves. It challenges us to transcend boundaries, expectations, and personal comfort to show compassion and mercy to those in need. As we seek to apply the lessons of this parable to our lives, may we be transformed by the love of Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit to love others in word and deed.

Let us remember that loving our neighbors is not just a suggestion or a good idea, but a command from our Lord. As Jesus taught, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). May we take this command seriously, allowing it to shape our priorities, our actions, and our very lives.

As we go forth to love and serve others, let us do so with the confidence that comes from knowing that we are loved by God and empowered by His Spirit. Let us also do so with the humility that comes from recognizing that we are all in need of God’s grace and mercy. As the apostle Paul wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

May our love for others be a reflection of the love we have received from God, and may it point others to the ultimate source of love, Jesus Christ. As we follow in His footsteps, may we experience the joy and fulfillment that comes from living out our purpose as His disciples.

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