I had an interesting experience today. Since it's dumb and cold now I was all bundled up and I noticed that all of the stuff I had was given to me by someone else. My hat, scarf, bag, both shirts, and gloves, and even some of the stuff in my bag had all been given to me as gifts and even though the rest of my clothes like my boots, and pants hadn't been formally given to me as gifts they were purchased for my by my parents and so were gifts in a sense. The only thing that I had with me that I had purchased with my own money were my socks. It kind of made me think about all of the stuff that I get from other people and how indebted I am to others and their kindness. It also reminded me of an in depth study we had done of the parable of The Good Samaritan in my New Testament class.
So, I assume that you all know the story. A Jew gets robbed and left for dead, he is passed by a levite and a priest, but then is eventually helped by a Samaritan. Jesus tells that parable to a lawyer who asked who his neighbor is and the lesson we learn from the story is that everyone who needs help or really everyone is our neighbor. In class though we looked at a few more elements.
The man who is left for dead falls among thieves, this is symbolic of the world and the fallen state of man. He is first passed by a Levite and a Priest who are on their way to the temple but don't stop to help because doing so would make them unclean and unable to do their temple duties without first going through some sort of purification process. They sacrifice the greater law, or the greater good of helping a dying man, for the lesser law of doing their temple duties without delay. This is symbolic of the Law of Moses, which is the lesser of the two laws and while it is good, living by it can never bring you to salvation. Then comes along the good Samaritan. Samaritans were rejected by the Jews, much like Christ was, and yet also like Christ, this Samaritan is willing to stop and help someone in need. Samaritans are half Jewish and half Gentile just like Christ is half the son of God and half the son of man. The Samaritan treats the wounded man with wine, which is symbolic of the atonement and with oil, which is symbolic of the Holy Ghost. He then takes the man to an inn where he leaves him in the care of the inn keeper while he is away. The inn keeper represents both ourselves and our need to care for others and the prophets, who are sent to care for and direct Christ's people while He is away. The Samaritan was willing to pay for the cost of caring for the man. In fact, he was willing to pay any price, symbolic of the atonement and Christ paying the price of sin and finally, the Good Samaritan promised that while he had work to do elsewhere, he would later return again.