The parable of the Good Samaritan is one of the most popular and well known parables of the Bible. It is so well known that the phrase “good Samaritan” has worked itself into our culture to describe anyone who goes out of their way to help a stranger in need. As well known as that parable is, what sometimes goes unnoticed is the motivation behind Jesus’ telling of the parable.
The narrative account — found in Luke 10:25-37 — begins with a lawyer coming up to Jesus and asking him what he must do to inherit eternal life. There are several things to note right off the bat. First, this man is a lawyer. The concept of a lawyer back then in first century Palestine is much different than the concept of a lawyer here and now. A lawyer in Jesus’ time was someone who was an expert in Jewish law — more of a scholar than a lawyer in the modern understanding.