In the story of the Good Samaritan the story is not quite as straight forward as it appears and would have had additional meaning for those of that time. Some scholars believe that the lawyer may not have been testing Jesus in an adversarial way but was truly seeking out information. One of the reasons is that he asks questions that a legalistic in nature who exactly is my neighbor?
It’s easy to say that the priest and Levite did not want to deal with the man in the road and are an example of passing by those in need. In reality it may have been hard for them to tell from a distance if the individual was alive or dead. If the person was dead, it would have made both the priest and Levite ritually unclean and would not be able to perform their duties for a while. The Samaritan is the one person Jews despised if not hated, yet he was the one who helped. It is also interesting that Jesus made the Samaritan the hero in this story since they would not let him stay with them when he was making his way to Jerusalem. Lastly, Hebrews of the time tended to view only their immediate communities as their neighbor and Jesus shows us that everyone is our neighbor. He also shows that loving God and neighbor is paramount and is more important than ritual. This parable can be a tough one since at various times we can see ourselves in the story good and bad. The parable shows us that it doesn’t matter what group you belong to we are all one and worthy of love.