Monday, July 16, 2007

good samaritan

Two things keep hitting me in the face wrt to the Parable of the Good Samaritan. The first is that the context of the parable is a discussion about receiving eternal life, down to the teacher of the law trying to justify himself; i.e., to show that he had the eternal life he was talking about.

The person Jesus held forth had a deeply flawed understanding of God's nature, yet his understanding of God's heart was such that Jesus is indicating that he had eternal life. (This is reflected in other parables, like the Sheep and the Goats, where the group that thought they hadn't known the Son of Man discovered that they did.)

The second thing is that Jesus took a familiar story, about a highly respectable Pharisee stopping to help a wounded man, and subverted its whole meaning by presenting the hated, unclean, and despicable Samaritan as a hero and role model.

It'd be as shocking as if someone like James Dobson went on the air with an openly gay guest and presented him as a role model of fatherhood and manliness; or if an evangelical leader encouraged people to follow the example of one Muslim or another in charitable giving or making peace. Shocking, but wholly needed, and ultimately healing.

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