The Good Samaritan

The Good Samaritan is a beautiful "human interest" story whose driving force is lost to modern hearers who don't understand the background of relationships between Jews and Samaritans. In the past, preachers have tackled this in one of two ways. We have either gone into an explanation of the presence of the Samaritans in Palestine and the Jews' deep resentment and hatred towards them, or made, say, a Vietnamese refugee the good Samaritan to convey the "feel" for modern Australian hearers. The incident itself - on a road notorious for brigand bands until very recent times - was typical enough for the first hearers. The shock to them was in the reactions of the priest and Levite - and the Samaritan! This drama, in contrast to most of the others, deliberately tells the story from the viewpoint of the innkeeper and his wife - on the way painting in the background and a suitable Jewish reaction - before the scripture passage is read.
For many years now, Neziah and his wife Judith have run the inn along the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. At times it has been a lonely life, for the road is dangerous and wild bands hide in caves along the way to molest travellers. It is just over thirty kilometres from Jerusalem to Jericho, but the road is steep and narrow as it descends 1000 metres in altitude. Travellers are always glad to stop, sometimes for food and lodging, sometimes just to gather information about the safety of the road.
JUDITHIt's been a bit quiet lately, Neziah.
NEZIAH:The word is out that another band of wild and lawless men are at work. Only on the gravest necessity will people come through - and then often in groups.
JUDITH:I don't understand why the Roman soldiers don't patrol the road more often. It should be in their interests to keep down lawlessness!
NEZIAH:They do round up some rebels here from time to time - make a public example of them - nail them to crosses - then things are better for a while!
JUDITH:But they don't keep it up. Then other bands come in and it's as bad as ever!
NEZIAH:The Roman patrols are always safe - and I don't think they worry too much about us! Anyway, perhaps it serves their purposes to have a road like this!
JUDITH:Serves their purposes?
NEZIAH:If they don't patrol it too much, it's almost certain they will be able to catch any criminal they want here!
JUDITH:That fellow who was brought in this afternoon - he was in a bad way!
NEZIAH:Immer the priest dropped by earlier in a big hurry - had spotted some evidence of another robber band.
JUDITH:Must have passed this fellow, surely?!
NEZIAH:Saw no one - or so he said!
JUDITH:You were talking to Shallum the Levite around lunch time too!
NEZIAH:Not much more information from him, either. After all, I could hardly say, "By the way, you didn't see someone lying beaten up and half-dead beside the road by any chance, did you?"!
JUDITH:What would they have done if they had seen him?
NEZIAH:What would we have done ourselves?
JUDITH:Hurried on, I guess!
NEZIAH:I think you're right!
JUDITH:Who was the fellow who brought him in?
NEZIAH:Don't know his name! Comes through here from time to time!
JUDITH:And you don't know his name?
NEZIAH:He's... he's a... Samaritan!
JUDITH:Oh... I see!... We gladly give our charity to this injured Jew. But - brought here by a Samaritan!
NEZIAH:Not charity, Judith! The Samaritan has paid us well - and offered to pick up the tab if it costs us any more!
Reader:Luke 10.25-37.

From Between the Lines. Dialogues for Worship by Peter J. Blackburn published by Testimonium Fellowship 1992, (c) Peter J. Blackburn.
Permission is given for copying of this document for local use with this copyright notice intact. For any other proposed use the specific permission of Peter J. Blackburn must be sought.

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