Charles Simeon Commentary - Luke 10:30 - 10:35

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Charles Simeon Commentary - Luke 10:30 - 10:35

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Luk_10:30-35. A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow, when he departed, he took out two-pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him: and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again I will repay thee.

MUCH address is necessary in dealing with persons of a captious spirit: we should speak to them with faithfulness, yet avoid giving them any unncessary offence. Our Lord was continually beset with persons of this description, but in nothing was his Divine wisdom more conspicuous than in the answers he gave them. The parable before us admirably illustrates this observation—

I.       Explain the parable—

We cannot enter into the full meaning of the parable without attending particularly to the occasion of it

[A teacher of the law had interrogated our Lord respecting the way to life, and was desired by our Lord to state what the law required [Note: ver. 25–29.]. The lawyer gave a just summary of its requirements, not doubting but that he had fulfilled them all. Our Lord suggested in reply, that though obedience to the law would entitle him to life, he was little aware of the extent to which that obedience must be carried. The lawyer (whether from fear of conviction, or confidence of having fulfilled it, we cannot say) passed over the first commandment, and asked for an explanation of the second. To convey the desired information, and to correct his self-justifying spirit, our Lord spake this parable.]

The circumstances of the parable deserve also to be noticed—

[A Jew is represented as having been robbed and wounded between Jericho, and Jerusalem [Note: This was probable enough, as a desert much infested with robbers lay between them.]. A priest, and a Levite (thousands of whom dwelt at Jericho) are supposed to have seen him in their way to Jerusalem; but, though from their very office they were called to exercise compassion, they passed by him without administering any comfort or relief [Note: The latter from curiosity “came and looked on him;” but turned away as the priest had done before him.]. A Samaritan is then introduced as performing the kindest offices towards him [Note: There was a most inveterate hatred between the Jews and Samaritans (compare Joh_4:9; Joh_8:48.), but the minute relation of the circumstances was well calculated to disarm the lawyer’s prejudice.], and as engaging for the whole expense of his maintenance and cure [Note: Two-pence was equal to about fifteen-pence of our money, and might be the amount of the expense already incurred; or perhaps might be as much as the Samaritan could spare at that time. His liberality was sufficiently manifest by his engagement to defray the whole sum that might become due.]. Thus our Lord shewed, that any person, of whatever nation, or whatever religion, must be esteemed our neighbour. By his artful statement also, he drew from the lawyer himself an express, though reluctant, acknowledgment of this truth [Note: The lawyer, though compelled to give honour to the Samaritan, studiously avoided mentioning his name.].]

But the peculiar suitableness of the parable to the occasion is that which most needs explanation—

[The lawyer was manifestly of a proud self-righteous spirit [Note: ver. 25.]. Though he knew the letter of the law, he was ignorant of its spiritual import. He supposed that he had merited eternal life by his obedience; yet he was far from shewing a loving disposition even towards our Lord himself. The parable opened to him more extensive views of the law: it shewed him that, so far from having practised his duty, he had not even understood it. Thus it destroyed at once all his self-righteous hopes, and, at the same time, inculcated the necessity of practical, and universal benevolence. Mild as the rebuke was, it could not but convince his judgment; yet was it so conveyed that it could not reasonably give offence.]

The parable thus explained, we may now proceed to,

II.      Improve it—


1.       In a less appropriate way—

[This good Samaritan was not intended to represent our Lord; and to put such a construction upon the parable, is utterly to pervert it. Yet, when contemplating the love of a fellow-creature, we may, without any impropriety, bring to your remembrance the infinitely richer love of our most adorable Redeemer. We justly admire the conduct of the benevolent Samaritan; and the consideration, that his kindness was shewn to a detested Jew, greatly enhances its value. How then must we admire the love of Christ towards our ruined race! We were robbed of the image of God in which we were made: we were left altogether “dead in trespasses and sins: no created beings could administer any effectual relief; but Jesus beheld us lying in our blood [Note: Eze_16:6.]; yet, though we were his enemies, he pitied us [Note: Rom_5:6; Rom_5:8.]. He not only took care of us, but “laid down his life for us:” he has taken upon himself also the whole charge of our cure: there is nothing that we want, which he has not freely bestowed upon us. Let us then magnify and adore our generous Benefactor. While we respect the exercise of love in a fellow-creature, let us study to comprehend the unsearchable love of Christ [Note: Eph_3:18-19.]; and let us make his love to us the model of our love to others [Note: Joh_15:12.].]

2.       In the way expressly intended by our blessed Lord—

[We have observed that the parable was intended to correct the lawyer’s self-righteousness, and to unfold to him the true nature and extent of Christian charity. Let us therefore learn from it these invaluable lessons. Let us learn the folly of self-righteousness.The law requires us to “love God with all our hearts, and our neighbour as ourselves;” and if we obeyed it perfectly without the smallest defect throughout our whole lives, we might be justified by it. But who ever loved and served God to the utmost extent of all his faculties and powers? Who ever incessantly occupied himself in labours of love towards those who hated and despised him? Who has not felt some backwardness to communion with God, and some want of sympathy with his neighbour? Yet the law can be satisfied with nothing less than perfect obedience: it denounces a curse against us if we transgress it in one single instance [Note: Gal_3:10.]. Hence we are told that no flesh living can be justified by it [Note: Rom_3:20.]. Let us then cease to expect life by our own obedience. Let us for ever shut our mouths and stand guilty before God [Note: Rom_3:19.]. Let us acknowledge ourselves to need mercy as much as the Apostles [Note: Gal_2:16.], and adopt the language of St. Paul [Note: Php_3:8-9.]— Let us learn also the true nature of Christian charity. We are apt to imagine that persons of our own nation, sect, or party, are the proper objects of our love; but Christian charity extends itself to all mankind. The distinctions of religion or politics should be forgotten, whenever an object stands in need of our assistance; and we should sympathize as truly with our bitterest enemy, as with our dearest friend. Thus did St. Paul compassionate the unbelieving Jews [Note: Rom_9:2-3.]; and our Lord weep over their murderous and devoted city [Note: Luk_19:41.]. Let us then endeavour to mortify our narrow, selfish principles, and to abound in disinterested, self-denying offices of love [Note: If this were the subject of a Charity Sermon, it would be proper, in this place, to advert to the particular circumstances of the charity.].]