“In the story of the good Samaritan, Christ illustrates the nature of true religion. He shows that it consists not in systems, creeds, or rites, but in the performance of loving deeds, in bringing the greatest good to others, in genuine goodness” (The Desire of Ages, 497). Through the parable, Christ shows us two things: (1) who is our neighbor, and (2) what it means to love him/her as ourselves. There are several factors that make this Samaritan good in the eyes of Jesus
He Came and Saw
One of the distinctions between the Samaritan and the priest/Levite is how they approached the injured man. Regarding the priest, the Bible says, “When he saw him, he passed by on the other side” (Luke 10:31). The Levite, as well as the Samaritan, came and saw (Luke 10:32–33). The difference is that the Samaritan didn’t just come, he came over to the injured man. The Samaritan is contrasted with Levite, who avoided the man, failing to recognize an injured neighbor worthy of compassion. One of the key elements that distinguishes the Samaritan is that he came and saw the wounded individual while not drawing back in disgust. Likewise, the real child of God will look for and come to people who are wounded and see in their wounds their humanity as sons and daughters of God.
Jesus also tells us that when the Samaritan saw the certain man who fell among thieves, he had compassion on him, bound his wounds, poured oil and wine on them, and set him on his own beast to carry him to an inn. What is noticeable about this response is what the good Samaritan does not do. He does not question whether this man is a Jew or a Gentile. He doesn’t consider what would happen if the roles were reversed. He doesn’t even consider the fact that by remaining there to help his injured man, he is putting himself in danger. All that he considers is the need and suffering. This is enough to arrest his attention and support a person in need. Religion that does not manifest itself in unselfish love for others even at the expense of personal inconvenience or even harm is not the religion of Christ.
“Thus the question, ‘Who is my neighbor?’ is forever answered. Christ has shown that our neighbor does not mean merely one of the church or faith to which we belong. It has no reference to race, color, or class distinction. Our neighbor is every person who needs our help” (The Desire of Ages, 503).