PARABLE OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN
A Sermon by Rev Frederick M ChapinMay 15, 1994
One of the most famous stories in the New Testament is the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Nearly everyone has heard of the Good Samaritan at some point in their life. All can recognize that the Lord was teaching about how we are to be a good neighbor to our fellow-man. In fact, this parable was given in response to the question, “Who is my neighbor?”
Just on the surface, we can see many important aspects of what is involved in doing good things towards other people by this narrative. We are taught to do good things even for our enemies, by the point that a Samaritan helped a Jew, who traditionally despised each other. There is an illustration of sacrifice in the Samaritan giving up his donkey for the wounded man. We are not to look or focus on a reward for our efforts of kindness. This principle can be seen in the Samaritan paying the innkeeper money for the man to be healed, without expecting any type of repayment. And we are to seek to have a good and sound reputation. This is shown in the trust and the confidence that the innkeeper had towards the Samaritan. There are many important details that stand out in this wonderful story of kindness towards another human being. Certainly, the people understood the Lord’s basic message when he told it. They realized that the Samaritan was the true neighbor, and not the Levite or the priest, who just passed by when they saw the man in need.
However, this parable can also be examined on a deeper and more personal level. We can penetrate beyond what we learn on the external degree. When we examine this story from a spiritual view, we can see important teachings of how we can love ourselves. The parable of the Good Samaritan can be turned inward and provide important considerations that will enable us to be effective in our dealings with other people. We must have a strong and positive self image. We can regard ourselves as useful without having conceit or feeling superior over others. The two basic principles of charity that we are to apply towards others are also to be applied towards ourselves: that we are to love that which is from the Lord in us and we are to love what can be united with the uses of others towards the establishment of the Lord’s Kingdom on earth. The Parable of the Good Samaritan can teach us how we can have a proper self-analysis
The parable begins with a man travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho. Jerusalem was a place of learning. The temple was located in Jerusalem and this was where the law was kept. Jerusalem represents our learning truth from the Word. Jericho represents the doing of good. Therefore, the journey from Jerusalem to Jericho pictures the application of truth in our everyday lives. The only way we can love ourselves in the right way is to have a sincere desire and effort to love a life that is in compliance with the Word.
However, along the way, the man was beaten and robbed. The man represents our conscious mind. He is the thoughts and affections that we are actually aware of. There were three specific things that happened to the man on his way to Jericho. These three things point out the traps that can prevent us from having a proper love of ourselves that is consistent with the teachings from the Word. He was stripped of his clothing. This refers to the disillusionment in truths that we sometimes experience. Evil spirits came and put doubts in our confidence that the Word really can work in our lives. When there is a doubt about truth, there is also a doubt that we are capable of living a spiritual life. This can lead to a negative impression bout ourselves. Secondly, the man was wounded. This pictures the infiltration of falsities of the world into our minds. Quite often, we may judge a situation or difficulty by the standards of the world. When things happen, it can cause us self doubt and guilt without seeing how we can be delivered. And the man was left half dead. This has reference to such a feeling of despair that there is the thought of giving up. Our desires to follow the Word are half dead. And when we feel like abandoning our efforts in doing what the Lord wants us to do, our self image will deteriorate.
After the man was beaten, a priest and a Levite passed by and ignored the man in need. These pictures the attitude of the natural tendencies. Just ignore living a good life. Let it die. Just do what is comfortable and the most convenient. This may sound very appealing approach to take in life, but when we are faced with deeper reflections upon ourselves, our internal condition will not be very enjoyable to look at.
However, a Samaritan came to the man and helped him. He had compassion upon him. The Samaritan represents the part of ourselves that we all have: the affection of truth. This is the genuine heavenly loves that have been established by the Lord in us since infancy. These states allow us to respond to and love the Lord and His teachings. This affection will come and strive to bring a healing to our wounded condition. It will seek to restore our joy and confidence that we can live a life that will bring the Lord’s presence to the earth.
The Samaritan bandaged the wounds of the man. This pictures the removal of the falsities that inflict us with a negative self attitude. The heavenly influence removes this false idea and shows what we can do to live a meaningful and spiritually productive life. Also, the Samaritan poured oil and wine upon the wounds of the man. These are the works of charity that brings healing as well. When we are active in performing the works of charity, that will bring a renewed confidence in ourselves. Doing good things will bring a healing to the image we have of ourselves.
Next, the Good Samaritan placed the man on his own animal and took him to an inn to recover from his wounds. The animal represents being instructed in truths from the Word. And the inn represents the place of instruction. We simply cannot have a strong self esteem without guidance from the Word. The Word gives us the proper standards that we are to measure our life according to. It also gives us guidance and direction on how to get rid of our faults and weaknesses that impede our spiritual progress and growth. Yes, the Word will show our bad affections and desires, which will be very disturbing to confront. But the Word will also give us a vision of the type of person we can become when our disorders are removed from us. If we have an extensive knowledge of the life we are to live from the Word, we can have to a firm awareness of our talents and what we can do that will make this world a better place. We can have a strong confidence in ourselves while confronting the things that we need remove from our lives. But we must be on the donkey and be placed in the inn. We must be willing to be instructed in order to be able to love and appreciate ourselves without having the attitude of being better than others. The more we know what the Word says, and more importantly, the more the Word is the foundation of our conduct, the more we are in a position to value our role for the Lord’s Church upon the earth.
Finally, the Samaritan left some money with the innkeeper for the man’s recovery and he promised to come back to make sure his healing was provided for. This shows that we are provided with the means to deal with our difficulties and that we will not be deserted from the influences of the heavens. Everyone has the necessary ingredients to love the Lord and the neighbor unselfishly. Those same ingredients allow us to regard ourselves as worthwhile human beings. The heavenly affections that have been stored up by the Lord since infancy allows us to look at ourselves from a spiritual perspective. When we have a vivid sense of our spiritual value, we will love what the Lord is able to accomplish by our own inviduality.
The love of self is not necessarily a bad love. In fact, it is a necessary and a vital love to have in order to perform spiritual uses. It is only destructive when it is out of order. But when the love of self is subordinated to a love of the Lord and a love to serve others, it can motivate us to live our lives according to Divine order. We can insure that we have a positive and orderly love of self when we focus on what is from the Lord in us. We are to look upon our talents and gifts as blessings from the Lord that can be used to spread the Lord’s message of love and wisdom. If we are focusing on the orderly affections and delights within us, the Lord is creating a new self awareness which is called in the Writings a new or heavenly proprium. This means that we regard ourselves differently than we did before. We now look upon ourselves as a means to help promote the Lord’s teachings upon the earth. From time to time, we will enter periods of self doubt that we can accomplish anything towards the establishment of the Lord’s kingdom. The barriers, physical, mental, and spiritual seem to strong to overcome. It is during these times that we can remember the internal message of the Parable of the Good Samaritan. We can always be instructed in the genuine truths that are contained in the Word. And the Lord has created affections within us that can respond affirmatively to the Lord’s guidance. If we recognize what if from the Lord in us and love that, we will have a positive self image whereby we will be able to enjoy eternal life. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”