The Good Samaritan is such a simple and complex story. If you grew up in church this may have been one of the first Bible stories you remember, and if you teach or preach in church you probably have used this text more than once. It is easy to condemn those that walked on by, and it is easy to know what you should do, but it is easy because we know in advance how this story ends. Nothing Jesus ever said or did was simple, easy, but not simple.
What makes this so complex is the detail of the Samaritan. The kicker is the Samaritan. When you are illustrating a point to a bunch of first century Jews and need a bad guy, you go to the Samaritan. Universally, in first century Judea, accepted as the go to villain. The audience listening to Jesus would have been shocked and stunned by the use of the Samaritan in a positive manner. And never would they have expected the Samaritan to have helped, much less rescued the victim. For you and I to totally appreciate the impact of the story on those hearing it originally, we have to make the Samaritan the person(s) we despise most in the world. Fill in the blank for yourself. It could be the name of a person. It could be a type of person. It could be a nationality or ethnic group. Someone that you would never suspect would rescue you, that’s the person who is your Good Samaritan.
Which reveals the sticking point in Jesus’ command to us. Love your neighbor… Your neighbor. That person you are commanded to love. That’s your Good Samaritan. What’s their name again?