Welcome back to Between Two Pews! Buckle in– this episode is a doozy.

Today, we cover what is perhaps the best-known parable that Jesus told: the parable of the Good Samaritan. (Our guest, Rabbi Abie Ingber, points out that there are probably more hospital signs labeled with “Samaritan” than there are actual Samaritans living in the world today!) All kinds of morals and lessons have been derived from this parable: “Take care of your neighbors.” “Be selfless to those who have been harmed without expectation for anything in return.” “If ‘church people’ like the priest and the Levite won’t work for justice and mercy, God will find someone who will.” “Don’t judge people by who you think they are; judge them by how they reveal themselves to be.” Put those on the back burner, because we’re digging into what the historical context of what this parable means, and it’s sure to subvert your expectations as much as it did ours!

An expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” But wanting to vindicate himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and took off, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came upon him, and when he saw him he was moved with compassion. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, treating them with oil and wine. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him, and when I come back I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Luke 10:25-37