The spiritual meaning of the parable of Good Samaritan, which reveals the current status of the believers. We, the believers, as of now are afar from the way of eternal life which is the true salvation.
Part II: The Parable of Good Samaritan
As I mentioned in Part I already, this parable is not meant to give us a moral lesson. Jesus meant to reveal the course of salvation. It also shows us the journey of our individual life, which encompasses both the life of flesh and that of spirit.
I will cite the parable again, in order to discuss further details.
Read Luke 10:30-35 below.
A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of 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, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins 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.
We all will agree that the Good Samaritan is the figure of Jesus. However, contradictorily, many of us take a judgmental attitude toward the allegorical interpretation of this passage. But we should remember that Apostle Paul interprets the story of the wives of Abraham, Hagar and Sarah in Genesis as an allegory that reveals the difference between the law and grace, as in Galatians 4:24, “These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar.”
We should understand that basically the contents of the Bible are the symbols and figures that indicate the unseen spiritual world. This story of the Good Samaritan, too, is a parable and allegory which reveals unseen truth. So we should not stick to the literal meaning of it, but we should understand the sign.
Think how the parable came to be given. It was given in answer to the question of the lawyer, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus’ answer would be ‘salvation’ regardless how it was expressed. And so, this parable will reveal to us ‘salvation of Jesus,’ not a command for us to be do-gooders.
As for salvation, it is clearly and exemplarily manifested through how Jesus saved His disciples. The salvation course of the disciple begins from their individual meeting with Jesus, and following Him for about three years to the crucifixion and resurrection. And at the resurrection, the disciple receives eternal life, and such life is grown up at Pentecost.
Likewise, we will be saved, if we meet Jesus individually and go through this course. I will add the salvation of the disciples to my explanation, as necessary.
The parable should read with this basic understanding.
Who is the Man Fell Into the Hands of Robbers?
A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers (v. 30a).
The man who left Jerusalem for Jericho signifies Adam, the representative of all mankind, who left Eden where ‘God is’ to this world where ‘God is not.’ And Adam is me. While living in this world, we will suffer from the guiltiness in our hearts and the inclement situation of the world, because we have left God. When we left God, which means that we are not one with God in our hearts, the method by which we relate ourselves with Him is the law.
The robbers signify the law and its teachers who preach the Bible as the law. However, as you know, even if we keep the law, we cannot become one with God, inheriting eternal life. The law will make us used up and half dead in the long run (Ro 5:20). They are robbers whom we are destined to cling to before Jesus comes to us, as Jesus says in John 10:8, “All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.”
All those who ever came before Jesus function as thieves and robbers, and our life begins under the law since our birth.
Strip, Beat and Go Away
The robbers stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead (v. 30b).
The robbers stripped him of his clothes. The law, which is likened to the robbers, has the ministry of condemnation (2Co 3:9), and so it condemns people who transgress it. By the condemnation of the law, we are stripped of our clothes. Clothes signify our righteousness. That is, under the law all our righteousness, if any, will be taken away, because no one can be declared righteous under the law (Ro 3:20).
The robbers beat him. We will be beaten by the law. This beating means judgment. The Jews beat Jesus and the disciples saying, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath” (Mt 12:2), and they beat a woman caught in adultery saying, “In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women” (Jn 8:5), and so on. We all are being judged by the law and by the people under the law, and we also judge others with the law. We beat people and are beaten by people. In this circumstance, we all will become half dead in the pit.
The robbers went away. This means the law only functions to strip and beat us. The law, after its enforcement, does not care whether men live or die or whatever, just like the sword cuts and pricks men mechanically without mercy or emotion or responsibility. Such an aspect of the law is expressed as the robbers went away after stripping and beating the man.
This reveals our current life in this sinful world.
Why the Priest and Levite Avoid the Miserable Man?
A priest and a Levite passed by the man who was half dead on the other side of the road (v.v. 31-32).
It is unbelievable to read that the priest and the Levite, who were the teachers and models of the ethical behaviors, acted in such obvious misconduct. The priest and Levite, including this lawyer, are the leaders and teachers concerning God.
Then, why is that? They are spiritually blind (Jn 9:40-41) being under the law, and so they cannot see who is half dead and who is dying. In fact, they themselves are the men who are dying under the law. How can they save others? Jesus says “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?” (Lk 6:39). They cannot save their neighbor who is half dead, even if they wanted to do so. Therefore, Jesus said that the priest and Levite shunned the man who fell to the robbers.
Meeting the Samaritan and His Healing
The Samaritan sees the man who is half dead and takes pity on him (v. 33).
The man was under the guidance of the priest and Levite, the law, but now he is under the Samaritan, grace. He is me, the believer. Previously he thought he was following Jesus, but he was the shadow Jesus, not the real Jesus. But now, he begins to follow Jesus truly, because he met the real Jesus. He came into grace from the law.
As we can see ourselves through this man, strictly speaking we cannot claim that we believe in Jesus until we encounter this situation in our lives and are found by Jesus. Only when we meet Jesus in this way, we begin to be a follower of Jesus, and after the crucifixion and resurrection we become the real followers of Jesus, as we become one with Him by receiving the spirit of Christ at that time.
Robbers First, Then the Samaritan: The Law First, Then Grace
Note that the man met the Samaritan only after he was robbed of and was half dead. This sequence is not an accidental setting, but the natural order of the law and grace. In order for us to resume our relationship with God whom we have left after eating the forbidden fruit, we’ve got to know God through His law first. And when we are half dead by the hands of the law (Ro 5:20), we will then be found by grace, the real Jesus.
Unless we are not used up and half dead we will not obey Jesus who will take us to our own cross for salvation. So God is waiting for that time to come. And only then, God will send the Good Samaritan to us.
If the Jesus who you follow gives you the teachings that you should help the half-dead man as the final aim, he must be the shadow Jesus whom you self-created in your heart. This means that you do not realize, like this lawyer, that you are half dead, so you cannot meet the real Jesus and follow Him. Whatever your current situation may be, you need to meet and follow the real Jesus if you want to be truly saved.
Let us think about the case of the disciples. In Luke, Simon’s confession of catching no fish all the night (Lk 5:5) and his being a sinner (Lk 5:8) signifies that he was used up and half dead under the law. Then Jesus came to him, and he followed Jesus, forsaking all (Lk 5:11) for his salvation, even though he did not yet know what was what.
Before Jesus came to Simon, Simon could not be saved by the traditional priests and Levites, because they did not have eternal life in them. They passed Simon who was spiritually half dead, by on the other side.
Bandaged, Pouring On Oil and Wine
The Samaritan bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine (v. 34a).
This signifies the works which will be done by Jesus while we are following Him to the cross. During this period, He will teach us a fresh meaning that was hidden in the superficial meaning. And such fresh meanings will reveal to us the correct way to salvation, replacing and correcting the existing misguided doctrines. This is depicted as the Samaritan ‘bandaged his wounds’ in the parable.
Pouring of oil signifies the coming of indwelling Holy Spirit, and wine, His sacrificial bloodshed on the cross. In fact, the wounds are healed by pouring on oil and wine, as we will be healed by His crucifixion and the subsequent coming of the indwelling Holy Spirit into us.
So, the ‘bandage’ is the sign of the ‘way’ of healing/salvation, and ‘oil and wine’ is the sign of ‘actual processing’ of healing/salvation in accordance with the ‘way.’
The disciples were bandaged, pouring of oil and wine, while they were following Him for about three years, and were finally saved at the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
Putting Him On His Own Donkey to Inn
The Samaritan put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him (v. 34b).
Putting the man on his own donkey to the inn means that the man is being united with Jesus to go to the cross, as Apostle Paul says “If we have been united with him like this in his death” (Ro 6:5a). His own donkey means the fleshly body of Jesus.
The inn is the symbol of the man himself, his body, where his spirit dwells. At the same time, the inn, his body, is the kingdom of God where the Holy Spirit dwells after the salvation process of Jesus.
This scene in which the man was carried by Jesus to the inn signifies the coming of Jesus into himself, which is his salvation. Previously the inn was occupied by the demons that seized his spirit, but now through the salvation process of Jesus, rooms in the inn will be made for Christ, casting out the demons. Consider John below.
In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
In the above verses, the rooms/place refers to the individual bodies of the disciples. Jesus worked three years, including crucifixion and resurrection, to make His place in each of the disciples and to go there. And that work can be expressed as “Jesus put the disciples on His own donkey to take them to the inn” if we use the expression of the parable.
In the parable, this event is described as sequential to the acts of bandaging and pouring on oil and wine, but spiritually this scene also signifies the same salvation process of the ‘period of following Jesus’ with different angle. That is, ‘bandaging and pouring on oil and wine’ represents healing aspects of salvation, and ‘putting him on his donkey to take to the inn,’ which means the death of his old self on the cross represents the destroying aspect of salvation. Apostle Paul says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2Co 4:16).
Taking Care of Him That Day
The Samaritan took care of him on that day (v. 34).
This means that Jesus was together with him on the night when he went through his cross whereby his old self was destroyed. Ironic as it may sound, the man was half dead by the robbers, and the remaining half would be dead by going through his cross together with Jesus. This is the ‘death of death’ in Christ, which is the ‘second death’ (Rev 20:6) and thereafter, he would joined the ‘first (Jesus) resurrection’ (Rev 20:22). In this way his old self/life is completely destroyed to gain subsequent eternal life.
As for the disciples’ case, they were half dead under the law when they first met Jesus (Lk 5:5), and were dead completely at their cross, which is, at the same time, the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
Apostle Paul expresses the above process as follows:
Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
The Next Day: The Day of Resurrection
The Next Day the Samaritan Leaves
The next day the Samaritan took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper (v. 35a).
‘The next day’ signifies the time when the man is resurrected to eternal life by receiving the Holy Spirit, in him. At this moment, Jesus in the flesh leaves him, and the resurrected Jesus comes. The man is now saved and born again.
As for the disciples, this time corresponds to when they received the Holy Spirit through the breath of the resurrected Jesus as in John 20:22.
Two Denarii to the Innkeeper
Who is the innkeeper? The innkeeper is the man himself. We discussed that the inn was his body. Then the keeper or the host of the inn must be he himself. Then, why does Jesus call him the innkeeper, a new name? Because after the resurrection of Christ in him, His kingdom came into him and he is now born again as a kingdom-keeper, the innkeeper.
What is the significance of two denarii that were given to the innkeeper?
Two denarii shall mean substance of Jesus Christ, because they came out of Him. When the spirit of Christ comes into him on the next day, it means that he is given ‘grace’ and ‘truth,’ which are the substance of Jesus. John 1:17 says, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” Therefore, grace and truth–these two corresponds to two denarii.
Also Consider John below.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
As for the man in the parable, the Word became his flesh and made His dwelling among him on the next day. We see the man full of grace and truth, because of Christ in him.
However, he needs to be further taken care of until the Samaritan returns. This means that his new life should grow further to be mature.
For the disciples’ case, this growing period from ‘next day’ to the ‘time when the Samaritan returns’ corresponds to the period from the ‘resurrection of Jesus’ to the ‘Pentecost.’ During this period, the disciples were yet weak and timid (Jn 20:19) even thought they were born again. This means their born-again life needs to increase further to be mature at the Pentecost.
His Return: The Perfection of Salvation
The Samaritan said to the innkeeper “When I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have” (v 35).
The return of the Samaritan signifies the second coming of Jesus into the man. When the man met the Samaritan, being half dead, it was the first coming of Jesus to him, and after complete healing when Jesus comes into him as the Holy Spirit, it is the second coming of Jesus to him.
By the second coming, his eternal life is perfected and fully grown up to be the life-giving spirit, and he is full of grace and truth as Jesus is. Now, at last, Christ lives in him, as Apostle Paul says “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20a).
The same was fulfilled in the disciples at Pentecost.
Reimbursement for Extra Expense
What will be the reimbursement to the innkeeper? Nothing.
Until Pentecost comes to us, we will have the desire, even the slightest, to get rewards from heaven for the good works we have done. However, when the Holy Spirit comes into us, we will realize that such hearts are absolutely misguided.
Then, “why the Samaritan said, ‘When I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have?’” It means that “Only when I return as the Holy Spirit into you, you will realize what salvation is and what grace really is. You will be ashamed of what you have thought.”
The only way Jesus can reimburse those who think Jesus owes them something is to give them true salvation by returning to them as the Holy Spirit. In other words, Jesus reimburses them by giving them salvation which will make them realize the fact that no reimbursement is obligated at all at His end when He gives eternal life. This is how Jesus reimburses our efforts, we think if we need any.
Thus, the parable tells us the way of salvation which we will receive by following Jesus. It is not meant as a command for us to help the half dead in Jesus’ name. We have to grow spiritually as the man in the parable to be truly saved.
What Will Be the Loving God With All Heart, Soul, Strength, and Mind?
Now we will consider the lawyer’s the summary of Old Testament in two sentences, in conjunction with the parable. The lawyer’s summary is as follows:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.”
To us, the above summary and the parable of the Good Samaritan has same message; that is, “Love neighbor.” However, as discussed so far, the parable is meant to say “Meet Jesus, a Samaritan, and be saved,” not “Love neighbor.” The same is true to the word “Love God and love neighbor,” which is the bottom line of all the Scripture. It means “Meet Jesus and be saved,” not “Love God and love neighbor literally.”
Therefore, all Scripture is grace, not commandments. Grace because God will re-create us through Jesus who are half dead, struggling to love into a being who can love naturally. This procedure is explained with the parable. As you can see, the wounded man is finally saved and has grace and truth in him. But during this course he did not do anything; the Samaritan did it all. This is grace, and we will be saved by grace.
Strangely, however, we refuse to come to Jesus–to grace. Instead, we insist to search the Scripture with eyes that makes us stumble and struggle to practice it accordingly all our lives. Jesus says to these people:
You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
We and the lawyer are ready to read the Bible and work diligently, but never agree to follow Jesus, a man, around us. If we do not follow this Jesus, we can easily expect what the outcome will be.
To sum up, in order to inherit eternal life, we need to meet our neighbor, Jesus, and follow Him, forsaking everything, to our own cross. And after that, Jesus resurrects in us, and we will receive the spirit of Christ, eternal life, in us. Now we can love and give life to our neighbor as Jesus did to us. Jesus, therefore, says to us now “Go and do likewise.”
Do not be deceived that you are following Jesus because you work according to the command of the Scripture. That is how you are following the law, not the living Jesus. As iron sharpens iron (Pro 27:17a), man saves man. Now is the time for you to meet a good Samaritan, falling away from the life of the lawyer who does not yet recognize that he is half dead.
Jesus is calling you again.
Taken from the book: “The Second Call of Jesus”