During a group counseling session Myra Justin, 15; Jason Jackson, 15; Carlos Mendoza, 15; and Angelina Bustamonte, 15 wanted to know where Jesus got the ideas for His stories. They did not think He just invented all of them though the group was in general agreement that thought Jesus must have had an excellent imagination.
Angelina Bustamonte thought: “Jesus must have listened to the talk of Mary, Joseph and the people in and around Nazareth-in the market place, people around the carpenter’s shop, people visiting Nazareth and wherever people gathered.”
Myra Justin added: “Maybe Jesus listened when he was really young and remembered things over the years.”
It was refreshing to listen to young teens give thought to Jesus’ parables. In the parable of the “Good Samaritan”, Jesus begins, as was his custom, with an action opening statement—“A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves…” Immediately the listener’s attention is stimulated because this opening phrase triggers a question in their mind to ask: “What happened after that?” Silence.
Jesus must have looked into their eyes then told them how the thieves jumped the unsuspecting man, beat him up and stole all that he had to include the clothes on his back, “…and departed, leaving him half dead.” Looking at the parable, Jesus introduced the most powerful of narrative themes—humankind against death. Will the innocent man make it or not? In a single sentence, Jesus was able to capture the attention of anyone able to hear his words.
As was Jesus’ method, he added persons who comprised of the esteemed leaders of the day. The priest (representing the religious community), in a hurry, possibly to keep an appointment, hurried on, uncaring. The Levite (a wealthy person in first century Judea) “…came and looked on him and passed by on the other side.” He probably saw his injuries but if he went on the other side of the road he would not have to face this reality and having to help the injured man. Only the Samaritan (a person of Hebraic and Assyrian ancestry), the racial minority of the day, feared, considered dirty, smelly, misunderstood and despised by Jews, went to the man’s aid who was probably near death by now, cleaned his wound, put him up in an inn, took care of his food bill and did not ask for being re-imbursed.
What Jesus proposed probably stunned his audience (how dare he compare a Jew to a nasty Samaritan) by asking: “Which are you?” Imagine Jews being asked if their behavior was on par with a filthy Samaritan. But Jesus was also asking people then and today—How likely are you to be the one to stop and help someone needing help? Have you looked away from someone who was in trouble or went on the other side of the street to avoid getting involved?
The parables, the group learned, are not just stories. They are invitations to self-examination. They help each and every one of us raise the questions about ourselves and how much of a Christian we really are. The parable of the “Good Samaritan” asks us: “Are we our brother/sister’s keeper?” For many, Jesus’ parable of the “Good Samaritan” may have aroused tremendous self-dissatisfaction as well as shame for their actions or lack of action on behalf of a person in need among others. That is, what He meant them to do—for Jesus has never given up on affecting the conscientious of humankind to do the highest good though sinful as humankind is.