What were you taught about parables? Earthly stories with heavenly meanings? True enough I guess. But why would Jesus speak in parables? Why didn’t he just give us a clear cut list of what He wanted us to do? Jesus himself answers that question when he say, “….so that you can know the mysteries of the kingdom”.
According to one of my favorite teachers Bill Cwirla,
‘He will hide the kingdom of God in earthly stories…and you won’t ‘get it’ until you get Jesus…..these parables are a crisis of faith and unbelief and you will not ‘get them’ until you get Jesus and who He is and why He came. “
Lutherans cut right to the chase when interpreting the scriptures. Where is Jesus in this parable? Jesus said ‘these are the scriptures that testify about me,’ so they look for Him—-relentlessly. I was always taught to look for myself in the parable. I was taught that they are little proverbs or stories of advice on how I should live. So the parable of the Good Samaritan would be translated something like,
“You should be a Good Samaritan too and help your neighbor. So what kind of a neighbor are you?”
Is this how you were taught to interpret parables? Inserting yourself into them at every turn?
The story of the good samaritan can be paraphrased as follows.
A lawyer (expert in the Torah) asks Jesus what he must DO to inherit eternal life. (Although we’re already in trouble because isn’t an inheritance a gift). Then Jesus asks him what he thinks he must do.He says, “Love God and love my neighbor”.Jesus says “Yes, do this and you will live”.Jesus knows the lawyer can’t DO that but Jesus is a gentleman and will let us live by ‘the law’ if we choose.The lawyer ‘wanting to justify himself’ says “Well who is my neighbor?”.And then Jesus tells the parable: A priest and a Levite,on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, pass a nearly dead man who has been robbed and beaten and left to die. They pass him by for various reasons (per Jewish law they would have been rendered unclean for priestly duties) and he’s helped by a Samaritan (not bound by Jewish law) who puts him on his own donkey, bandages his wounds, takes him to an inn and pays his bill. (paraphrased from Luke 10:25)
Imagine my surprise when I hear a wonderful gospel interpretation of the parable that goes like this.
Christ is our good Samaritan. He has found us along the road of life, beaten and robbed and desperate. He rescues us, bandages us, saves us and takes us to the inn (the church) and pays our debt. Pastor Cwirla even takes the terms of the parable in an allegorical way to say: Think of Jesus as our good Samaritan. He literally becomes our neighbor in the incarnation. He takes on our flesh and is bloodied by our sin. The punch line of the parable is that he frees us from the law. The hero of the parable is Jesus. And because the Samaritan is not bound by the law, as are the lawyer and the priest and the Levite, he is free to serve. In other words, Christ became my good Samaritan and died to save and ransom me—-to free me from the law—-so that I am now free to serve others.
You can listen to this teaching here.
Is this a new interpretation for you? Does your heart sing for joy at the thought of Christ being your good Samaritan? I’m wowed. Again. Thank you Pastor Cwirla and thank you to Issues.