Let me share a few comments on this one.
Luk 10:25 And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" 26 And He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?" 27 And 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." 28 And He said to him, "You have answered correctly; DO THIS AND YOU WILL LIVE." 29 But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" 30 Jesus replied and said, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. 31 "And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 "Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 "But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, 34 and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 "On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.' 36 "Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers' hands?" 37 And he said, "The one who showed mercy toward him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do the same."
The message of this parable reaches the audience on different levels. The parable of the Good Samaritan teaches a clear message on the level of a child. But does it challenge the minds of the learned? Because Christian scholars often misunderstand the Jewish background to the teaching of Jesus, they frequently miss the deeper level of meaning in the story of the Good Samaritan.
In the Lukan context of the parable of the Good Samaritan, the Torah scholar approach Jesus and ask him a question, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus answered him by asking another question, "What is written in the Torah? How do you read?" Because of the way Jesus presented his questions, the Torah scholar could arrive at the proper approach, "love the Lord your God" and "your neighbor as yourself."
The dialectic discussion between Jesus and the scholar was not characterized by hostility or confrontation, as many New Testament scholars have assumed. The question is a genuine inquiry. Jewish learning involved asking questions and answering questions with more questions. In regard to the conclusion of the parable of the Good Samaritan. When Jesus asked him who was the neighbor to the man in need, the Torah scholar answered correctly, "The one who showed mercy." He concluded that even one's enemy, could be a neighbor. The astonishing conclusion of the parable demonstrates that the Torah scholar was sincere, because he arrived at the proper answer after hearing the parable.
The colorful cast members of the mini-drama provided insight into the plot of the story. A man is stripped and left half dead. With out identifying clothes, one cannot recognize to which cultural community he belongs. Is he a Pharisee? Is he a priest? Is he Roman? Jesus does not tell listeners. He is simply a dying man in urgent need.
The inner structure of the parable is seen in the other three characters. The Lukan context of the parable would indicate that the Torah scholar asking Jesus questions was one who accepted the oral law, perhaps a Pharisee. In contrast, the first two characters who passed by the injured man do not embrace the oral tradition. The priest and the Levite were probably Sadducees, who would have not accepted the validity of the Oral Torah. They would, however, follow the written law with literal exactitude. Here one begins to appreciate the artistry in the parable.
The three key actors, the Priest, the Levite, and the Samaritan, have both similarities and distinctions within the diverse religious cultures of the first century C.E. The original audience of the parable would have been keenly aware of these distinctions.
The religious men make no effort to help him because of their understanding of biblical law. The leading characters of the story play significant roles in the structure of the parable's plot. The Priest and the Levite continue the actions of the robbers; the robbers abandoned him to die and they passed by in a like manner. The Samaritan, however, reverses the actions of the thieves and makes every effort to restore the man whose life was at risk.
The tremendous importance given to the oral interpretation of the Torah in Pharisaic teachings can hardly be overemphasize. The Torah was delivered to Moses with its oral commentary and practical application in every aspect of human experience. The Sadducees rejected the teachings of the oral law. They were literalists in the sense that they followed only the written law.
The difference between the scholar asking Jesus a question such as "Who is my neighbor?" And the leading characters in the parable is decisive. The oral interpretation of the written law, which were so very important to Jesus and the Torah scholar, have little meaning for the Priest and the Levite.
The people listening to the parable are keenly aware that the Sadducees in the priestly service are extremely concerned about their ritual purity. In the eyes of a Sadducean literalist, the prohibition in the written Torah (Lev 21:1) "And the Lord said to Moses, 'speak to the Priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them that none of them shall defile himself for the dead among his people'" superseded all humanitarian concerns.
The met mitzvah is a law concerning a dead person who has no one to bury him. The oral law require is even a high priest to pollute himself with ritual and purity in order to bury a met mitzvah. The written law states clearly, "The priest… shall not go into any dead body, nor defile himself, even for his father or for his mother" (Lev 21:11). The priest in the Levite acted properly according to the literal meaning of the Torah. In the Oral Law, however, as preserved in the later codification of the Mishnah, the early tradition presents a different approach for the met mitzvah.
In fact, even in pagan thought it was an acceptable ethic of civilized conduct to provide burial for an abandon corpse. However, the more important issue was saving a life.
In the parable, Jesus criticizes a Priest and a Levite for not being willing to risk coming into contact with a corpse. The point seems to be that they did not know whether or not the man by the side of the road was dead, when they were unwilling to risk incurring corpse-impurity simply on the chance that they might have been able to help.
The oral law teaches proper ethical conduct whether the man was dead or still alive. The priest in the Levite could ignore the teachings of the oral law in good conscience because of the literal approach to the Pentateuch.
In the Jewish oral tradition, the principal of saving life at all cost gained unsurpassed and uncompromised priority. All written laws of the Torah must be violated to preserve life. Clearly a dying man's life is more important than ritual purity. The priest in the Levite treated the dying man as if he were already dead. They did not except the oral tradition concerning the preservation of life at all cost, and they feared that their ritual impurity was at risk.
Clearly, when Jesus referred to the Samaritan in a positive manner, it was an ingenious shock element in the parable. Even a Samaritan cared more for human life than the Priest or the Levite. The guardians of the Temple neglected basic human values.
The meaning of "neighbor" must include not only those who are near but even an enemy. Jesus wanted the Torah scholar to understand the point. He chose three characters to play leading roles in the parable. He asked the scholar, "Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fail among the robbers?"
He did not respond by saying "the Samaritan" instead he answered with profound wisdom, "The one who the showed mercy." The Torah scholar did not categorize the Samaritan according to his cultural and religious community. He saw him for what he did. He realized from the story of Jesus that every human being, whether friend or enemy, is of inestimable value and must be esteemed according to the biblical commandment "you shall love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus made his point clear enough for the Torah scholar; one should interpret the verse in the broadest sense: "you shall love even your enemy as yourself."