He [the Lord] teaches that the man going down was the neighbor of no one except of him who wanted to keep the commandments and prepare himself to be a neighbor to every one that needs help. This is what is found after the end of the parable, “Which of these three does it seem to you is the neighbor of the man who fell among robbers?” Neither the priest nor the Levite was his neighbor, but—as the teacher of the law himself answered—“he who showed pity” was his neighbor. The Savior says, “Go, and do likewise.”1
Indeed, “guard” is signified by the name Samaritan. The interpretation means this. Who is the Guard, if not, “The Lord preserves the infants”? Thus, as there is one Jew in the letter and another in the spirit, so there is one Samaritan in public, another in secret. Here the Samaritan is going down. Who is he except he who descended from heaven, who also ascended to heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven? When he sees half-dead him whom none could cure before, like her with an issue of blood who had spent all her inheritance on physicians, he came near him. He became a neighbor by acceptance of our common feeling and kin by the gift of mercy.2
One of the elders wanted to interpret the parable as follows. The man who was going down is Adam. Jerusalem is paradise, and Jericho is the world. The robbers are hostile powers. The priest is the law, the Levite is the prophets, and the Samaritan is Christ. The wounds are disobedience. The beast is the Lord’s body. The pandochium (that is, the stable), which accepts all who wish to enter, is the church. The two denarii mean the Father and the Son. The manager of the stable is the head of the church, to whom its care has been entrusted. The fact that the Samaritan promises he will return represents the Savior’s second coming.…
The Samaritan, “who took pity on the man who had fallen among thieves,” is truly a “guardian,” and a closer neighbor than the Law and the Prophets. He showed that he was the man’s neighbor more by deed than by word. According to the passage that says, “Be imitators of me, as I too am of Christ,” it is possible for us to imitate Christ and to pity those who “have fallen among thieves.” We can go to them, bind their wounds, pour in oil and wine, put them on our own animals, and bear their burdens. The Son of God encourages us to do things like this. He is speaking not so much to the teacher of the law as to us and to everyone when he says, “Go and do likewise.” If we do, we will receive eternal life in Christ Jesus, to whom is glory and power for ages of ages. Amen.3
God our Lord wished to be called our neighbor. The Lord Jesus Christ meant that he was the one who gave help to the man lying half-dead on the road, beaten and left by the robbers. The prophet said in prayer, “As a neighbor and as one’s own brother, so did I please.” Since the divine nature is far superior and above our human nature, the command by which we are to love God is distinct from our love of our neighbor. He shows mercy to us because of his own goodness, while we show mercy to one another because of God’s goodness. He has compassion on us so that we may enjoy him completely, while we have compassion on another that we may completely enjoy him.4
CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA:
“Anyone who tries to act high-handedly annoys God,” says Scripture. For bombast is a spiritual vice. Scripture tells us to repent from it as from the other vices by turning from disharmony and by linking ourselves to a change for the better through the three instruments of mouth, heart and hands.5
But what does Scripture say? The Word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart. And to these the Savior also kindly points out the matters pertaining to the kingdom of God, that they may not seek it outside themselves or say, “Behold here or behold there.” For he says to them, “The kingdom of God is within you.”6
The “kingdom of God,” according to the word of our Lord and Savior, “comes not with observation”; and “neither shall they say: Behold here, or behold there”—but “the kingdom of God is within us” (for “the Word is very nigh unto” us, “in our mouth and in our heart”). So it is clear that he who prays for the coming of the kingdom of God rightly prays that the kingdom of God might be established and bear fruit and be perfected in himself.7
Be like the image on the coin, unchangeable, keeping the same habits every day. When you see the coin, see the image; when you see the law, see Christ, the image of God, in the law. And because he himself is the image of the invisible and incorruptible God, let him shine for you as in the mirror of the law. Confess him in the law that you may acknowledge him in the gospel. 8
- HOMILIES ON THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 34.2. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 179). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- EXPOSITION OF THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 7.74. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (pp. 179–180). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- HOMILIES ON THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 34.3, 9. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 180). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- CHRISTIAN INSTRUCTION 33. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 181). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- STROMATEIS 22.214.171.124. Lienhard, J. T., & Rombs, R. J. (Eds.). (2001). Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy (p. 325). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN 19.77. Lienhard, J. T., & Rombs, R. J. (Eds.). (2001). Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy (pp. 325–326). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- ON PRAYER 25.1. Lienhard, J. T., & Rombs, R. J. (Eds.). (2001). Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy (p. 326). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- Letters 20. Gorday, P. (Ed.). (2000). Colossians, 1–2 Thessalonians, 1–2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon (p. 12). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.