What is a parable? A parable is a fictitious or made up story designed to teach a lesson through comparison. When you hear the story, you can relate it to your own life. It is like an illustration for the points in a sermon. It conveys its message of truth through analogy, through comparison or contrast.
Questions for this week:
- Read Deuteronomy 6:4-6. The lawyer in Luke 10 is asking Jesus about inheriting eternal life. Jesus asks him to answer the question and proceeds to quote the verses in Deuteronomy 6. What do these verses speak to in regard to salvation? What do they say about the actions we are to take as people who claim to possess salvation?
- Shema Yisrael (or Sh’ma Yisrael; “Hear, [O] Israel”) are the first two words of this section of the Torah in Deuteronomy, and is the title (sometimes shortened to simply Shema) of a prayer that serves as a centerpiece of the morning and evening Jewish prayer services. This was a prayer that this man questioning Jesus would have said at least 2 times per day. Jesus is pleased with his answer and agrees that he should live out the content of the prayer. How does your life echo the statements in this prayer? Do you have a daily prayer that you use to keep your heart aligned with God’s?
- Why do you think Jesus uses the story of a man being attacked and left for dead as the context of a story about loving one’s neighbor? Discuss the significance and purpose in the 3 passersbys that Jesus uses to illustrate his point. Who were the Samaritans and how did the Jews feel about them?
- Read Numbers 19:11, Numbers 19:16. Read Leviticus 21:11. Why might the priest and Levite have avoided the dead body? If they were present and were giving a defense of their actions, what might they have said? Given the Samaritan parable, discuss the difference between legalistic religion and Spirit-driven compassion.
How do we fall into this same trap of obeying rules versus living out compassion through Christ? Discuss times when reaching out to others was difficult, or times when you were caught between what was polite/convenient because of your laws or culture, and what you felt God asking you to do.
- Other than the shock value of the Samaritan as “good” in this parable, what is the difference between the spiritual mindfulness of the priest and Levite (must keep oneself clean, as per the law) and the practical mindfulness of the Samaritan’s actions? How does Jesus value the actions of the three (hint: the first two and their self preservation, the third with his selflessness)? If he’s not saying one is righteous and one is not, what point is he making in comparing all three passersby? What is the question he asks the audience at the end? Now read James 2:15-17. Does this apply? Why or why not?