One of the things I value the most in this life is the Holy Scripture, the Bible. It wasn’t that way in the beginning. I grew up where the Bible is only read in church every Sunday.

I wasn’t able to own a complete Old and New Testament Bible until I was in college. I used to have a Gideons New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs when I was in high school. I was so happy for the Gideons International to give me that booklet for free.

Through it I was able to read my favorite verse early in life, John 3:16. The truth of that verse was illustrated in many ways in the New Testament. One of my favorite Gospel stories to read (actually it’s a parable) was the Parable of the Good Samaritan. I’ve heard it read once in church and it was taught in class by our catechist.

I was fascinated by the Samaritan’s exemplary act of mercy on a stranger who was robbed and left half-dead by the bandits. I didn’t understand why the two religious men would pass the dying man by and would not take care of him or help him.

I understand now. Back then, however, I was provoked to anger by the indifference of the priest and the Levite to the dying man. I was in awe though of the Samaritan’s kindness and tender heart. He was my hero, a good example to follow.

During this time of global health crisis when many are suffering and dying due to the coronavirus, some of us become good Samaritans as well. I think of all the health practitioners, for example, who are giving their all, even their lives, to save those who are infected.

Thank you, medical doctors, medical technologists, radiologists, nurses, therapists, social workers, and other paramedics. Thank you all for being good Samaritans to many who are afflicted and tormented by this global virus.

I wasn’t a believer then when I first heard and read this story. I got converted later in life. But this story and the message it conveys became more meaningful to me now than before. As I grow in my knowledge of the Bible’s overall message, I understand that this parable is not only about helping our neighbors in their time of need.

From the vantage point of redemptive history, I see more and more the resemblance of God’s work of rescuing helpless and dying men through the work of Christ in this parable. More and more, I am seeing Christ in the Good Samaritan who rescued not just a needy stranger but really an enemy.

The Samaritans had nothing to do with the Jews at that time (cf. John 4:9). So for a Samaritan to have pity on, to rescue, and to take care of an enemy was mind-boggling. It was an extraordinary, out-of-this-world act.

Reflecting on this story, I realize that its message is no different from the storyline of the whole Bible. It’s a story of rescuing someone from sure death. It’s a story of saving an enemy from danger. It’s a story of salvation and redemption.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan is a story within a larger story. It’s the story of God rescuing and delivering fallen men, in fact enemies, from sin and death, through the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

When we get this bigger picture, we become more thankful to God for giving us new life in Christ and for saving us from the sure danger of eternal death because of our sin.

Reflecting on the Parable of the Good Samaritan

Vic Bernales is an ordained minister in the Pearl of the Orient Covenant Reformed Church. He pastors the Davao Covenant Reformed Church in Davao City, Philippines. He earned his Master of Divinity at Mid-America Reformed Seminary at Dyer, Indiana, U.S.A.

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