Parable of a Good Samaritan

3_Parable of Good SamaritanScripture Reference: Luke 10:25-37

Story Overview: Each Jew knew the command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” When a man asked Jesus whom exactly was meant by “neighbour” he was trying to get out of his responsibility. By telling the parable of a Samaritan who helped a complete stranger, Jesus made it plain that any person who is in need is our neighbour.

Suggested Emphasis: “Love our neighbour” by helping anyone who is in need.

Memory Verse: “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, Love your neighbour as yourself.” Luke 10:27, NIV

Background Study
Way to Introduce the Story
The Story
Review Questions
Craft and Activity Ideas
Other Online Resources

Background Study:

In the book of Matthew Jesus referred to loving God as the “greatest command” and loving your neighbour as the command like it.  He even said that “all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments”  Matthew 22:34-40.   Being an expert in the law (a lawyer) the man asking Jesus questions would have been familiar with these commands.  He would also have been familiar with the many additions to the law that the Pharisees had made.  He would rather debate the law than think about his own personal obedience.  He tries to test Jesus or trap him in his own words.  Jesus takes this potentially volatile situation and turns it into a teaching moment.

Has this ever happened in one of your classes? Perhaps one of your students is distracted or trying to draw attention to him/herself. It seems the class is slipping out of control. Here is an opportunity to tell your best story! Try what Jesus did and ask the disruptive child their opinion about one point in the story. Perhaps ask them to read a verse and say how they would have felt if they had been there. Or ask them what movie star would be best to play that bible character if there was a movie about this story. Don’t embarrass them but really find out what they think.  Then say, “Now let’s get back to today’s story.”

One way to help younger children regain focus is to give a few simple instructions – any instructions – in rapid succession (everyone stand up, everyone sit down, everyone wiggle your toes, everyone cover your eyes, and everyone open your ears!) “Now we are going to learn about God.” The attention is now on you because they are curious to hear what you are going to do next!

Again Jesus speaks in a parable. This is not an actual event but one that was believable because it could easily have happened. The distance from Jerusalem to Jericho is about 25 kilometres. This familiar road ran through rocky, desert country that provided places for robbers to hide and make surprise attacks on people.

The people listening to this parable would have been able to relate to the trouble that the man in the parable was in. It would have been a relief for the injured man to see a good Jewish priest come along. How must he have felt to see the priest pass by without helping? Another Jew, a Levite, should have also stopped but he did not.

This Jewish audience would have expected other Jews to help a Jew in obvious need. What they did not expect was the next thing that Jesus said. It was not a Jew that finally helped this man, it was a Samaritan! The Samaritans were looked down on by Jews. They were considered half-breeds and not true Jews. This goes back to 2 Kings 17:24-41 when the Jews of the northern kingdom were taken into Assyrian captivity and the King of Assyria made an attempt to resettle Samaria with his own people.

In this parable the Samaritan goes to extraordinary measures to help the man. He not only helped him in the moment of need, he got personally involved in the man’s situation. He spent the night taking care of him and then paid an inn keeper so that the man would be taken care of until he was well. Two silver coins would have been equal to two days’ wages. This would have been enough for up to two months stay in an inn.

We are to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. Neighbours are not just the people who live near us or that are in our circle of friends and family. Neighbours are not even just the people who attend church with us or even just those who believe in God. Neighbours are anyone who is in need.

Sometimes helping our neighbour is very difficult and inconvenient.  Sometimes it means getting out of our comfort zone or even facing some ethical dilemmas.  When Jesus challenged him with this parable even this expert in the law knew that the Samaritan had obeyed God’s command while the priest and Levite did not.

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Way to Introduce the Story:

Bring a few different maps (city, country, world) to class. Help children find where they live on the map. Ask them where their neighbourhood is. “In today’s lesson we are going to learn about a parable Jesus told about neighbours . . .”
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The Story:

Wherever Jesus went people would come to hear him tell about God. They loved to hear him tell parables. Parables were stories that helped people understand important lessons.

Once a man who was an expert in the Law of God asked Jesus a question, “Teacher, what must I do to live forever?”

Jesus knew the man was an expert in God’s Old Testament Laws. He asked the man what the Old Testament Law said that a person must do to live forever.

The man’s answer was, “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, Love your neighbour as yourself.”

Jesus told the man that he was right. That was the greatest commandment. That is the way to live forever.

Then the man asked about loving your neighbour as yourself. Did he have to love all of his neighbours or just the ones that lived close by? He asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbour?”

Instead of telling him the answer Jesus told a parable. This is the parable:

A man was travelling by himself from Jerusalem to the town of Jericho. While he was on the road some robbers attacked him. They beat him up and took everything he had – even his clothes! The man was left all alone on the road. He waited and waited for someone to come by and help him.

A priest came walking by on the road. Priests were God’s helpers in the temple. They knew how to worship God. They knew all of the rules of God. Do you think the priest helped the man? No, the priest went on the other side of the road and passed right by the man without helping.

Next, a Levite came along the road. Levites knew all of God’s laws. They were good Jews. Do you think the Levite stopped and helped the man? No, the Levite looked at the man and then crossed the road and walked right past him.

Finally, a man from Samaria came along the road. The Jews did not like Samaritans. Everybody thought that the Samaritans would never help anybody. But this Samaritan was good. He saw the man on the road and he stopped to help. He put oil and wine on the man’s wounds. (Oil and wine were used for medicine in those times.) Then he lifted the man onto his donkey and took him to a nearby inn. He took care of the man all night to make sure he was going to be well.

The next morning the Samaritan had to leave to continue on his journey. He wanted to make sure that the injured man was taken care of so he gave money to the innkeeper. He gave him enough money so that the man could stay at the inn for two months! He even told the innkeeper that he would come back next time he was travelling and pay more money if the man was still sick.

Everyone was very surprised to hear this parable. When Jesus was finished he asked the expert in the Law of God a question, “Three men went on the road that day: the priest, the Levite and the Samaritan. Which of these men do you think was a neighbour to the man who was beaten and robbed?”

What do you think the expert in the Law of God answered? That’s right, the Samaritan was a neighbour. Helping anyone who needs help is being the kind of neighbour that God wants. We don’t even have to know the person. We should help them just because they need help.
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Ways to Tell the Story:

This story can be told using a variety of methods.  Always remain true to the facts found in the Bible but help children connect to its meaning by using drama, visual aids, voice inflection, student interaction and/or emotion.
Click here for visual aids and story-telling methods.

Click here to download these illustrations and slideshow.  Be selective.  Each teacher is unique so only use the illustrations that best relate to the way YOU are telling the story in THIS lesson. Too many illustrations can be confusing so eliminate any that cover other stories or details you do not wish to emphasise in this lesson.

Review Questions:

  1. What is the greatest commandment? To love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength, and with all your mind.
  2. After loving God, what is the second greatest commandment? To love your neighbour as yourself.
  3. Why is the Samaritan man in Jesus’ parable called the “Good Samaritan”? He stopped and helped the man who had been robbed and hurt.
  4. According to Jesus’ Parable of the Good Samaritan, who is your neighbour? Anyone who needs help.

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Craft and Activity Ideas:

(How to choose the best learning activities for my teaching situation)

  • Assign parts to the children and then read the story from the bible. Let them act out the story as you read.
  • Let one child volunteer be the injured person and show the class how to do simple first aid (plasters, clean and bandage wounds, etc.)
  • Fill a shallow container with sand and recreate the road in the story. Place stones and plants along the road as places where robbers might hide. Let the children draw paper people and cut them out. These characters can be used to tell the story.
  • Memorize Luke 10:27. A fun way to do this is to write words like “fast, slow, baby talk, bass voice, opera singer, etc on small cards. Children can draw cards and then say the memory verse according to the card they choose. Example: Child draws a card with “opera singer” on it so they sing the verse as an opera singer would.
  • Make up character cards with the names (or pictures for younger children) of each character. Let the children take turns drawing the cards and telling what happened to them in the parable. Don’t forget the obscure characters: innkeeper, donkey, man asking Jesus the questions.
  • For older children bring a local newspaper to class and look through it to see what kinds of needs people  have.
  • Help children think of ways to help someone in need. This could be a class project. Perhaps collecting food or items for the poor.
  • Show a map (or use something like “Google Maps“) to show pictures of your neighbourhood.  Talk about who your neighbours are. (Thanks for this idea, Jaime and Amarylis!).

Printables pic
Click here for “Parable of the Good Samaritan” in A4 size paper
Click here for “Parable of the Good Samaritan” in letter size paper (USA)

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Other Online Resources:

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4 Responses to Parable of a Good Samaritan

  1. mary says:

    Mary from Kenya Africa i have liked your material we are using it for Sunday school

    • Mary says:

      Hi. How nice to hear from another Mary! I’m glad you are using the material in Kenya. God bless you as you share God’s Word with children. It is such a wonderful service for the Kingdom of God.

  2. Tyrone says:

    Thank you for the bible study, it was very useful. My views after looking at Calvin’s exegesis on Luke 10, is the understanding that Jesus is to be making a parallel between loving your neighbour and not loving your neighbour. Jesus would not make this parallel using a dead person, because then he would be not be your neighbour as he is dead. Although it is true that Jews cannot touch dead bodies, the scripture is clear that the person is alive and for sure the Levite and Priest knew this. Christ is teaching us that Jews and priests alike hide behind the law although knowing better that the law divides brother and sisters, Samaritan and priest /Levite. Even though the Levite/Priest cannot touch dead bodies, it shows us that they through their own choosing of the law which they believe leads them unto salvation, they deliberately deny obedience to the greatest commandment, and therefore chose not to love God and their neighbour. So the simple reading of the text would lead one to the simple conclusion that Christ is comparing loving your neighbour (Samaritan) and not loving neighbour (Priest/Levite). Christ is saying that Priests and Levites, although they appear to be great religious men of God, they are merely sinners hiding behind the law which leads them to break the greatest commandment of God. God bless.

  3. Mary says:

    Here’s a note I received from another woman named “Mary”:
    “Hi, it’s Mary from England again. We are using your material in our Sunday school classes and find it very helpful. My comment is about the lesson of the parable of the Good Samaritan, as I learnt something recently which throws a whole new light on this story. In your notes you say, ‘How horrible to see him (the priest) pass by without helping. Another Jew, a Levite, should have also stopped but he did not.’ However, this is not quite true. The OT gives definite rules about priests and Levites touching dead bodies. (Numbers 19, Leviticus 21) They had no way of knowing if the naked, bleeding man was dead or not, and if he had been and they had gone within six feet of him, then they would have had to return to Jerusalem and purify themselves. This was not a quick five-minute wash either, it involved days of ceremonies and would have seriously inconvenienced them. They could well have been on their way to an important event and just could not risk getting anywhere near the poor victim on the ground. We are horrified that so-called religious people should pass by, but Jesus’ hearers would have been surprised if they had stopped, and more horrified by who did stop! One way to get round this for modern children is to tell the story as Jesus told it, ie mention the priest and Levite but do not pass comment on their perceived unhelpfulness, but perhaps a better way is to explain that it wasn’t allowed for the priest and Levite to help although that seems very strange to us today. Thanks again for the material, which is excellent.”

    ………………………………………….

    So…Thank you, Mary, for your comments. I’m so glad you find the website useful.

    I went back to the Scripture to read this story again and I always appreciate anyone who leads me to God’s word. As teachers I think each of us must read and study the Scriptures and teach it with sincerity. It certainly sounds like you do.

    I’ve been putting a lot of thought into what this might mean and it seems to me that Jesus was making this difficult on purpose. He was speaking to an “expert in the Law” so the parable involves a very difficult ethical dilemma. On another occasion, recorded in Matthew 22:34-40, when Jesus referred to loving God and loving your neighbour he said that “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” The expert knew the Law. He knew the rules that priests and Levites were bound by. But all the Law and Prophets hung on loving God AND loving your neighbour. This parable seemed to be forcing him to to choose. In the end he had to say that it was the Samaritan that loved his neighbour (showed mercy).

    Jesus has a way of causing us to re-think our understanding. He certainly does this on a number of occasions in the Gospels.

    I hear what you are saying when you say that touching the man on the road would have meant the priest and Levite would have had to go through purification rituals afterwards. You are right when you say Jesus does not elaborate on why they did not stop. Were they trying to obey God, protect their reputation or avoiding inconvenience? Some say it is significant that they were travelling away from Jerusalem (down from Jerusalem) and not toward it. If they had finished their business in Jerusalem then wouldn’t it have been the right thing to stop?

    I found some interesting commentary at https://bible.org/seriespage/good-samaritan. The three attitudes mentioned were:
    Robbers’ attitudes: What’s yours is mine and I’m going to take it.
    Priest/Levite’s attitudes: What’s mine is mine and I’m going to keep it.
    Samaritan’s attitudes: What’s mine is yours and I’m going to share it.

    Anyway, Mary-to-Mary…I did actually have another look at the background notes I had written and decided to take your advice and re-word the one judgement statement you mentioned. It now sounds much better. Thanks.

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