THE PARABLES OF JESUS

But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side.

So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’

Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”

He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Luke 10:29‭-‬37 RSV

One of the favorite slanders of Jesus by the Pharisees called him a “Samaritan” (John 8:48).

But in this parable Jesus touched that slander with the genius of his divinity and changed it into the most glorious encomium, an accolade of eternal praise.

They called him a Samaritan; very well, Jesus defined “Samaritan” for all generations in this incredibly beautiful parable.

THE PARABLES OF JESUS

The parables of Jesus are excellent beyond all excellence.

The hymns of Wesley, dramas of Shakespeare, novels of Scott, eloquence of Churchill, stories of O. Henry, philippics of Demosthenes and the scope of the ILIAD and the ODYSSEY are all surpassed and exceeded by the parables of Jesus.

“The Sextette” from “Lucia di Lammermoor,” the “Hallelujah Chorus,” the “Chant of the Pagan Priestess” from “Aida,” the marches of Sousa, and all the harmonies of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and Handel NONE of these nor all of them are as beautiful as the parables of Jesus.

The whole world for nearly two millenniums has loved the parables.

They are the essence of all philosophical and moral wisdom, the distilled knowledge of all that characterizes human behavior, and the most influential words ever written.

They live in the hearts of millions, monitor the activities of all mankind, judge the secrets of men, reveal their motives, disclose their sins, and announce their destiny.

They are at once simple and profound.

The parable of the Good Samaritan has alone built a thousand hospitals, or a million; it has fed orphans, relieved the poor, and poured its blessings upon all the wretchedness and disease of this earth.

Thorvaldsen’s statue of the Good Samaritan symbolizes the relation of this parable to the science of medicine, but the connection with all the sciences of human service is just as real and dramatic.

If there is anything ever written that compares with the parables of Jesus, why does not someone identify it?

Good Samaritan hospitals all over the world honor this parable.

Where is its rival?

If the sacred parables of Jesus are not indeed of God himself, why have twenty centuries of human genius been unable to write another?

The conceit that a parable has only one point is a human device for the reduction of infinity to a smaller theater for the purpose of accommodating inadequate understanding of God’s word.

When man is bewildered, challenged, perplexed, and amazed at the scope of one of Jesus’ parables, he may console himself and reduce embarrassment by the allegation that, after all, there is only one point anyway!

The inability of men to agree on which is the “one point” proves there are many.

Jesus allegorized the Master Parable (Matthew 13:18f); and here is another parable of the same type, displaying the same quality of exciting analogies.

I will open my mouth in a parable;

I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us.


Psalms 78:2‭-‬3 RSV

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