A teenager named Aldi was working alone on a fishing hut anchored about 125 kilometers (about 78 miles) off Indonesia’s Sulawesi Island when heavy winds knocked the hut off its mooring and sent it out to sea. For forty-nine days, Aldi drifted in the ocean. Every time he spotted a ship, he turned on his lamp to try and get the sailors’ attention, only to be disappointed. About ten ships passed the malnourished teen before he was rescued.
Jesus told a parable to an “expert in the law” (Luke 10:25) about someone who needed to be rescued. Two men—a priest and a Levite—saw an injured man as they were traveling. But rather than help him, both “passed by on the other side” (vv. 31–32). We aren’t told why. Both were religious men and would have been familiar with God’s law to love their neighbor (Leviticus 19:17–18). They may have thought it was too dangerous. Or perhaps they didn’t want to break Jewish laws about touching dead bodies, making them ceremonially unclean and unable to serve in the temple. In contrast, a Samaritan—who was despised by the Jews—acted nobly. He saw the man in need and selflessly took care of him.
Jesus wrapped up His teaching with the command that His followers should “go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37). May God give us the willingness to risk reaching out in love to help others.
The question-and-answer session in Luke 10:25–37 was initiated by an “expert in the law” (vv. 25, 37). In some translations this term is rendered lawyer and comes from the Greek word nomikos (“pertaining to legal matters”). The focus was the law of Moses. The law experts were also known as “scribes” or “teachers of the law”; they occupied positions of authority (Matthew 23:2) and were thereby respected. These religious scholars, the theologians of that day, were the preservers, interpreters, and judges in matters of the law. Early in Luke’s gospel, when Jesus was twelve years old, He became separated from His parents for three days. They found Him in the temple courts sitting among the teachers, interacting with them and confounding these experts (Luke 2:46). Later in Jesus’ life those of this guild were ripe for His rebuke (11:45–54).