The Blue & Gold

The official newspaper of Chamblee High School, preserving the past for the future today!

The official newspaper of Chamblee High School, preserving the past for the future today!

The Blue & Gold

The official newspaper of Chamblee High School, preserving the past for the future today!

The Blue & Gold

What is a Good Samaritan?

A group of Chamblee High students volunteering on a recent service project. Photo by Eli Ritchey

An elderly man is struggling to carry groceries to his car, so a person comes to help him. Later around the dinner table, a spectator of this earlier event tells their family of the Good Samaritan they saw today at the grocery store. The term “Good Samaritan” has been used for TV show titles, hospital names, state and federal laws, and everything from tree demolition services to elderly care companies. With this term so widely used, it is important to understand what a Good Samaritan is and how you can be one. Merriam Webster defines a Good Samaritan as, “a person who is generous in helping those in distress,” but I find that this definition deprecates the true meaning of what a Good Samaritan actually is.

In order to determine the meaning of a Good Samaritan the best place to look is where the term originates, in this case, it was in the Bible in the book of Luke 10:30-35.

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.35 The next day he took out two denarii[a] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.” (NIV)

Reading this parable told by Jesus to “an expert in the law” (Luke 10:25 NIV) might seem straight forward—the Good Samaritan was the only person who helped the dying man. This thought would bring you back to the dictionary definition of a Good Samaritan, but there is context in this parable that the majority of the modern, especially the Western, world does not comprehend. 

First, the audience is extremely important to “The Parable of the Good Samaritan” as this parable is spoken in Judea to an Jewish leader. In Israel, at the time of this parable, the Jews from Judea hated the Samaritans from Samaria, and hate is being generous. Furthermore, the robbed and beaten man is implied as Jewish because the parable is shared between two Jewish men (Jesus and the expert), and he is traveling between two Jewish cities (Jerusalem and Jericho). Therefore, the thought that a sworn enemy of the Jews (a Samaritan) would help a Jew was egregious. 

Secondly, the story mentions that a priest and a Levite passed by the dying man before the Samaritan arrived. A priest was a man who’s life was devoted to God, they would make sacrifices to God on the people’s behalf in order to repent for the people’s sins. However, in this story the priest does not help the man who he represents before God, but walks on the other side of the road. Similarly, Levites were the descendants of the Tribe of Levi, and they were in charge of the Mosaic laws and the tabernacle. This made Levites the elites in society either being a priest, government official, or temple guard by trade. However, in the parable the Levite also passes by the dying man on the other side of the road. Finally, the Samaritan, a title of a hated ethnicity rather than one of social status, sees the dying man and helps him.

Furthermore, the Samaritan man not only helps the dying man, but he truly cares for him. Helping the man would look like bandaging him and bringing him somewhere to be cared for, but the Samaritan uses oil and wine—expensive items—on the man’s wounds and pays two days wages (two denarii) for his supposed enemy’s care. Then, the Samaritan says that he will return for the man and cover any other expenses he might incur. The Samaritan not only uses costly healing products and helps the man, but pays a substantial amount of money for his care and states that when his business is finished he will come back and provide additional care for the Jewish man. These actions are far more than just helping the man.

In summary, the Good Samaritan was not just a man “generously helping those in distress” because he did so much more. So what is a Good Samaritan? I believe that a Good Samaritan is anyone of any background that goes against the grain, or the commonalities of the time, and cares for people no matter the cost or the outcome because they love their neighbor as themselves. Yes, helping the elderly man with his groceries is the right thing to do, but a Good Samaritan doesn’t just do the “right” thing, they go above and beyond to do the loving thing. I cannot help but think that maybe, just maybe, if we were a society of Good Samaritans loving all “neighbors,” hated or not, as ourselves, the world might, just might, be a better place.

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About the Contributor
Elijah Ritchey, Staff Writer
Elijah Ritchey ('25) is a junior and a staff writer of the Blue & Gold. In five years, he hopes to be crazy rich- but don't we all? His three favorite things are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

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