Good treatment of the Good Samaritan parable?

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Jash Comstock

Puritan Board Freshman
Recently read this article by Tullian Tchividjian, and it has stuck in my mind, kind of explained this parable like I have never seen it.. How do y'all think he treated the text here? Liberate

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
I hate to be too critcal because there are some insights there that I agree with, and I sympathize with the desire not to put burdens on people, but...

I do wonder if that article fails to give due consideration to Jesus' command to "go and do likewise." I can't quite buy that Jesus is only condemning the lawyer with that remark. It seems more likely that Jesus really is challenging the guy (and us) to do like the Samaritan.

But doesn't that leave us looking for wiggle room like the lawyer, stymied by a strong command that seems impossible? That's a very real problem with this parable, and one the article's author rightly brings up. The author is correct when he says we mustn't simply hunker down and try hard to do it, as has too often been taught.

Here's what's missing, though: The reason that it IS possible to go and do likewise is seen in how Jesus assigns the characters in the story. If Jesus had merely been trying to tell his Jewish listeners to love thier enemies, wouldn't he have made the hurt man a Samaritan (an enemy) and the helper a Jew (the person his listeners would relate to)? But he made the hurt man a Jew. With this in mind, the story doesn't say "love your enemy." It says, "your enemy loved you."

Now the command to "go and do likewise" makes sense, and doesn't seem so impossible anymore. If you really had been loved that fully by your enemy, you might indeed be motivated to love an enemy yourself—to go and do likewise.

I suspect the lawyer Jesus was speaking with didn't get it. After all, when had any Samaritan shown him that sort of love? What a silly story! But WE should get it. We know that Christ died for us while we were still his enemies. We know (or ought to know) that this is the source of our ability and our motivation to love others as well. We can obey that command, and do so joyfully. It is not just there to condemn us.

The article you linked to sees some of that... but it could be better if it more strongly affirmed that Christ's love does compel us to love others, making commands like this one sweet to hear rather than merely burdonsome. As I know something about the article's author, I suspect that's an idea he would gladly embrace.

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
For the life of me, though, I fail to understand the need to have a large picture of a statue of a nude man towering over the piece.
Oh, that's priceless. What? You don't appreciate fine art?


Ordinary Guy (TM)
Is this really a "new perspective" on the parable? And if so, I automatically want to test it and I have an automatic suspicion of it. Did all the Church Fathers and Reformers miss this perspective?

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
It is a great loss to parse out Redemptive/Historical applications of a text and, yet, fail also to point out (or worse, poo poo) the applications/uses which should be made by Christians in their conversation and carriage.
Joshua, your soul is an appalling dump heap overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of deplorable rubbish imaginable, mangled up in . . .

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