The story of the Good Samaritan as found in the Bible is, for good reason, a favorite of so many. I’m not going to do a play-by-play of the story since you can read for yourself. I just want to point out a small, but significant, observation that may be helpful.
There seem to be two main ways to look at this story:
1. We should help those that we would not normally help. The people listening to Jesus tell this parable would have been surprised to have the Samaritan being the hero, especially if he was helping a Jew. The Samaritan’s willingness to bless another is inspiring.
2. According to John Welch, this story may have originally been a vehicle for teaching the Plan of Mercy and the mission of the Savior. I’ll let you study that one out, but I love this interpretation.
Both interpretation #1 and #2 can be correct. They probably both are. There is one other small point I think we should focus on:
If the Samaritan hadn’t had oil, wine, a donkey, and some money, this wouldn’t be much of a story.
It is almost as if the Samaritan assumed he would cross paths with someone who was in the middle of a struggle, so he prepared himself to be helpful. The path on which this story takes place is actually named “The Way of Blood” because of the frequency of attacks that happened along the route. If the Samaritan was familiar with the path and the likelihood of happening upon a person who had suffered an attack, the wisdom of carrying oil and wine (for healing purposes), bringing a donkey (for transportation purposes), and carrying some coinage (for lodging purposes) are obvious and well thought out.
I don’t know why the priest and Levite weren’t as well prepared and were unwilling to help. There may be some cultural reasons that I’m not aware of. And I don’t really know exactly why they chose not to stop and help the suffering man though that item has been addressed by others. What I do know is that the Samaritan not only desired to help the sufferer, but was prepared to help the sufferer.
President Henry B. Eyring shared the following:
When I was a young man, I served as counselor to a wise district president in the Church. He tried to teach me. One of the things I remember wondering about was this advice he gave: “When you meet someone, treat them as if they were in serious trouble, and you will be right more than half the time.”
I thought then that he was pessimistic. Now, more than 40 years later, I can see how well he understood the world and life. (“In the Strength of the Lord”, April, 2004)
If more than half of those you meet each day are in some kind of need, wouldn’t it be wise to stock up on oil, wine, money, and donkeys as you make your way out of bed, out the door, and out into the world each day?
How can I help others today if I’m nothing bringing my testimony with me, out the door, and ready to share. What if I’m not bring charity–the pure love of Christ–with me as I start of the “Way of Blood” we refer to as life? Physically, can I help a stranded motorist if I don’t have jumper cables or a jack?
Physically and spiritually, we can gear up for our trip down “The Way of Blood”, where, surely, we are going to cross paths with someone in the middle of a struggle. Are we prepared to bless them? What can I do, today, to be more prepared, physically and spiritually, the help others?